Brian Silcott is the head of player experience and lacrosse administration for the Premier Lacrosse League.

Just My Life: Brian Silcott a Man of Many Roles

The belief that sports and the arts are opposites is misguided. There are commonalities beyond just being a viewing experience for fans or theatergoers.

There’s often drama and conflict. Heroes who lead the home team and villains whose antagonistic play incites a response from the crowd. The thrill of the closing act and the post-show curtain call in which the team celebrates its victory.

Brian Silcott lived in both worlds. A theater major and lacrosse player during his time at Nazareth College (1991-93), Silcott’s first true love was the stage. Something about the escape enthralled him. On the stage, he could be anyone he wanted.

Professional lacrosse, coaching vacancies and other opportunities eventually came calling, closing the curtain on his theater career before it could truly start.

But Silcott still exhibits the traits of a polished performer and orator. That’s not to say he’s always acting. Silcott speaks genuinely and thoroughly. He boasts a hearty laugh and a big vision for what he wants lacrosse to be. When Silcott speaks, you listen, waiting for the next thought or turn of phrase just like a Broadway patron who paid top dollar to sit in the orchestra.

“For me, being engaged as a performer, it was very much like sports. You step onto the stage, and you get to perform in a way you don’t get to in normal life,” Silcott said. “If I behaved in normal life the way I do on the lacrosse field, I’d probably be in jail. You take off your Brian Silcott hat and go fully into this other being.”

While he might have moved on from acting, Silcott didn’t move on from performing. After graduating from Nazareth — where he was a two-time All-American and won the Fran McCall Award as the nation’s top midfielder in 1993 — Silcott wowed arenas and stadiums for 10 years as a professional lacrosse player in the National Lacrosse League and Major League Lacrosse. After he retired, he became the first Black coach in MLL history in 2005 when he took charge of the San Francisco Dragons.

His stint ended in 2007 when he went back to the NLL, this time as the executive vice president of the Portland LumberJax. He took a brief hiatus from lacrosse from 2009-11 to serve as the director of the Oregon Exposition Center and State Fair before returning to the sport as the men’s game director at USA Lacrosse.

He hasn’t left the game since.

“Lacrosse has always presented opportunities to me,” Silcott said.

“My hope is that over the next 10 years, we come together more as a sport.”

— Brian Silcott

Now on the board of directors for USA Lacrosse, Silcott is also the director of operations for Jamaica Lacrosse and the head of player experience and lacrosse administration for the Premier Lacrosse League. His goal has always been to make a difference. Like any good actor, he can sway a crowd. Silcott’s demeanor and commitment to the role allow him to connect with just about anybody he crosses paths with.

In his role with the PLL, Silcott’s primary duty is making sure the players are spoken for. He’s the go-between for the league and its players, but he’ll often go out of his way to make sure the athletes are comfortable and in lockstep with the league when it comes to policies and procedures.

He also goes off script to deliver even more. When Canadian border restrictions last summer made it difficult for the PLL’s athletes from up north to travel to each tour stop, Silcott helped Brodie Merrill, Ryland Rees and others find temporary housing in the U.S.

Despite not knowing Rees very well, Silcott set up the Waterdogs long-stick midfielder in the guest house of a family he coached outside San Francisco.

“It’s not his job to find me somewhere to stay in the summer,” Rees said. “He’s got a lot more jobs than that. For him to take the time, reach out and find connections, just doing whatever he can to help me, that’s something I’m very grateful for.

“Just having somebody who legitimately cares about the players and wants everybody to succeed, it’s really hard to say that the PLL would be running as smoothly as it is without Brian.”

SILCOTT REMEMBERS WATCHING THE MINISERIES “ROOTS” IN MIDDLE SCHOOL. The series, which aired in 1977, is a dramatization of author Alex Haley’s family line from ancestor Kunta Kinte’s enslavement to the liberation of his descendants.

Silcott said his school was trying to do the right thing by creating a safe environment to learn about slavery. But, despite the school’s intentions, it actually made Silcott’s experience worse.

“For me, as the Black kid in the classroom, it was a little awkward. Being in sixth grade, sitting in a classroom with a bunch of white people, watching ‘Roots’ and knowing that all of them are just thinking about you,” he said. “The world was trying to do something for the better, but in the end, it didn’t make my life easier.”

The first to admit that he grew up with “tremendous privilege” in the greater Rochester area of New York, Silcott acknowledges that Black children in underserved communities have suffered far greater than he has. But for him, being Black has always been part of his identity.

“My life was truly incredible,” he said. “But the reality is, being Black hung over my life in all times anywhere. There’s the overarching presence of being a Black man in a white world.”

Silcott never thought of himself as a “Black lacrosse player.” Or the Black swimmer, baseball player or student. “That was just my life,” he said.

But because of his status in the sport — Silcott earned a spot on the Blaxers Blog/USA Lacrosse Magazine All-Time Black Lacrosse Team last year and also was recognized in "A Timeline of Black Lacrosse History” produced by the content partners — he still finds himself speaking on behalf of Black Americans within the predominantly white lacrosse community.

Last Friday, exactly one week after he was interviewed for this story, Silcott’s tweet about a group of spectators harassing the Howard women’s lacrosse team became the flashpoint of a renewed discussion within the sport about racism and the Black experience.

The Bison — coached by Silcott’s wife, Karen Healy-Silcott — traveled to North Carolina to play Presbyterian in their season opener. Healy-Silcott told Inside Lacrosse publisher Terry Foy that the team was met by “pickup trucks full of white boys” who hurled racist and misogynistic words in their direction. Presbyterian has since issued a statement claiming an investigation of the “hateful” incident is under way.

“Lacrosse is in an interesting place. We’ve become hyperaware of race in our sport. It’s a topic that’s on the tip of people’s tongues all the time. But you can’t look at this as a problem in lacrosse,” Silcott said Feb. 4. “Unless we start having a system where we don’t allow racist parents to let their kids play lacrosse, there will always be racists in lacrosse. There are racists across America.”

As a member of USA Lacrosse’s board of directors, Silcott has his hands in making sure the future of the sport is diverse, inclusive and less fragmented. Hate is not an option. Conversations about safety, in all of its forms, are paramount.

“My hope is that over the next 10 years, we come together more as a sport,” he said.


At Nazareth, Silcott was the Fran McCall Award winner as the nation's top midfielder in 1993.

AS A THESPIAN, SILCOTT HAS PLAYED SEVERAL ROLES THAT HAVE RESONATED WITH HIM. He portrayed the title character in “Othello,” an iconic part in an iconic play written by William Shakespeare. He dived headfirst into the part of Caliban in “The Tempest” and found satisfaction in his role as C.C. Showers in “The Diviners.”

“Othello” might have been the boldest. In the play, most characters exhibit some sort of racism toward Othello, a Black general in the service of Venice during the Ottoman-Venetian War.

In the tragedy, Othello is tricked into suspecting his wife, Desdemona, who is white, of adultery. The mixed-race marriage causes incredible conflict among the characters, simply because Othello is Black. Othello lives in two worlds. He claims noble parentage but still experiences racism because of his skin color.

To some degree, it echoes Silcott’s experiences. Afforded opportunities as a youth, Silcott can still recall experiences on the field in which he heard things said about his race. He chose not to respond. No matter what, he said, the burden is on the Black person.

“When the whole George Floyd thing happened, I was getting asked every day about what it was like to be a Black man. Positive things came out of it, I think? But in the end, why was the burden on me [to educate others]? That’s an ongoing battle that many Black people have internally. Why am I the voice of Black people?”

The conflict of being Black in lacrosse — or in the world in general — is not one resolved on the field or on the stage. For Silcott, he thinks it starts at home. He hopes lacrosse can become an outlet for those to find solace, just like an afternoon in the theater. For Silcott, the sport became a passport. In addition to his stops in the U.S. as a lacrosse player, coach and administrator, he coached Scotland’s national team in the 2018 world championship in Israel and has high hopes for his Jamaica Lacrosse team at the U21 World Championship this summer in Limerick, Ireland.

“It’s an escape,” he said of theater, though his words could just as easily apply to lacrosse. “It’s a different way of telling stories and creating emotion in people and bringing people to places they weren’t completely prepared to go.”