(Photo Courtesy of UVSI Lacrosse)
Lacrosse has seen tremendous growth in the Caribbean in recent years, with Puerto Rico and Jamaica having success at the world championships, and programs in countries such as Barbados and Haiti starting to come to fruition.
The U.S. Virgin Islands appears to be the next spot where lacrosse could find success in the region, as Rich Carter and his wife Leslie, who is from St. Croix, are working to bring the game to the US island territory.
Carter, a New Canaan, Conn. native and Villanova lacrosse alum, who serves as the Executive Director of the USVI Lacrosse Association talked to Lacrosse Bucket earlier this week about the association and their efforts in growing lacrosse in the islands.
“I had taught lacrosse, along with some other sports, in PE classes on St. Croix when I lived there and the kids seemed to enjoy it, but the idea of really bringing lacrosse to the Virgin Islands stemmed from me being involved with Ireland lacrosse and seeing the success of Puerto Rico and Jamaica at the World Championships in Netanya, Israel in 2018,” Carter said. “I saw the success of Puerto Rico, in particular, and said if they can have a successful lacrosse program then there is no reason why the Virgin Islands can’t.”
The USVI Lacrosse Association was officially established in October of 2019 and while they are still in the early stages and the COVID-19 pandemic has has slowed their efforts down a bit, they have made some real progress thus far. The association currently has a lacrosse club set up on each island – St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix.
“We have lacrosse clubs set up on the three islands and now we just have to get the equipment down there and start hosting clinics. Obviously, we have been slowed down a bit due to the health situation, but we are all ready to go once things open back up,” Carter said.
The next step, or phase two, in USVI Lacrosse’s efforts of growing the game on the islands involves getting the game into schools. USVI Lacrosse wants to be able to introduce the game through the four clubs they set up and then move things towards schools. That will include establishing school teams and providing those schools with all the necessary equipment needed to have a lacrosse program.
USVI Lacrosse is in its mere infancy, but Carter says that he hopes they see as much growth as possible in the coming years, and that eventually the U.S. Virgin Islands will be represented in international competitions.
“Our overall goal is to use lacrosse as a tool to provide opportunities for kids in the Virgin Islands. Whether that means providing and outlet for a kid or giving them an opportunity to go to college stateside through the game, we just want to make in impact and provide those opportunities,” Carter said.