HAMPTON (WAVY) – Lloyd Carter spent most of the morning with a smile on his face, hugging just about anyone he came across, while the Hampton University student body braved the frigid cold temperatures to cheer on the school’s first ever men’s lacrosse team.
“I never expected a day like this,” said Carter, the head coach who’s team is the first Historically Black College or University (HBCU) ever to field a Division I team.
“I think it’s a historic day for Hampton University,” said Hampton Athletics Director Eugene Marshall.
And how the team, and the university, was able to celebrate such a day is a miraculous story in and of itself. As a freshman in 2010, Michael Crawford lobbied to start a club program. Just three months later, Crawford went into cardiac arrest and died due to complications from an enlarged heart. He was only 21 years old.
His grief-stricken mother decided to carry on her son’s mission, and contacted Carter about the coaching opportunity. Five and a half years later, with ESPN broadcasting its flagship program Sportscenter at Louis Armstrong Stadium, the team jogged onto the field as a full-fledged Division I program.
“[Michael Crawford] had a vision and before this even got here,” said Carter.
The Pirates lost to visiting Roberts Wesleyan 20-3, but the significance of the day went far beyond the scoreboard. For the first time in history, a HBCU program fielded a lacrosse team; a sport played predominantly by white athletes. Marshall hopes the Pirates prove to be pioneers for future programs. “We hope to have a diverse group of players in the future and we hope that young kids that want to play lacrosse will go to other universities and be accepted as well,” he said.