Welcoming All Walks: Why Jacksonville Fields its Diverse Roster


Jacksonville midfielder Jeremy Winston regains his balance while dodging downhill against Robert Morris defenseman Owen Down during a Feb. 23 game at US Lacrosse’s Tierney Field in Sparks, Md.

This article appears in the April 2020 edition of US Lacrosse Magazine. Don’t get the mag? Head to USLacrosse.org to subscribe.

John Galloway wants to move past the idea of color.

“Our guys are green and silver in the locker room,” he said. “That is what we believe in.”

Still, Galloway understands the interest in his Jacksonville men’s lacrosse team. Not only are the Dolphins the only Division I team in Florida, but they also stand out with one of the most diverse collections of players competing at the top level of a predominantly white sport. Jacksonville’s 45-man roster includes eight people of color. Many of them play significant minutes, meaning it’s no token nod.

We asked Galloway about the commitment not only to diversity, but also inclusion at Jacksonville.

Why is diversity important to you as head coach? How does it strengthen your program?

I don’t look at our roster or recruiting philosophy as “diversity being important.” I believe it is our job to look past the idea of color and put together a roster that dreams to play lacrosse at the highest level. Our guys are green and silver in our locker room, and that is what we believe in. I do feel that the amount of diversity on our roster does give every guy in our locker room a different perspective. We have kids from every corner of the world. I want their experience to be holistic so when they leave here, they are prepared for anything.

What lessons do your players learn from being around a diverse group of teammates and student-athletes?

They learn not everyone is cut from the same cloth. Some of our guys have never experienced the challenges others have faced, and it opens their eyes to different realities in our world. Ultimately, they learn to become brothers with men who come from vastly different backgrounds. That is an important trait we should be helping build within our 18- to 22-year-old kids. 

How do you celebrate diversity in your program?

We don’t celebrate diversity. Our job is not to point out their differences, but instead show them just how similar they can be. We have missions set in our program, and once you put on that jersey, we are all pulling in the same direction. 

Why do you think Jacksonville is an attractive option for minority student-athletes?

Our campus is built on welcoming all walks of life. Again, we make sure not to talk too much about this in recruiting because it shouldn’t be the difference. I told our parents this fall that when they drop their kids off on this campus, we have a responsibility to love and look out for them, as we become an extension of their family. We have made our mistakes in the past, but we know that is the most important thing — to create an environment that welcomes people from all walks of life.

What do you think it would take for the college lacrosse landscape to look more diverse?

The lacrosse community has to stop talking so much about how to handle diversity, and instead act. Go out of your way to make sure every young man has an opportunity regardless of color. Don’t make predetermined decisions just because of the race of a young man or woman, and instead get to know them as a person. That should be the standard.

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