USCGA & PBA Partner for Diversity InitiativeMarch 16th, 2011

USCGA & PBA Partner for Diversity Initiative

West Palm Beach, Fla. – A fixture in the South Florida community – the Coast Guard is well known for its bright orange helicopters and its white boats with red “racing stripes” driving in to pull someone out of the water. What is not so well known in South Florida is the sport of lacrosse. A team of future leaders from the United States Coast Guard Academy found themselves uniquely poised to change all that, while using the sport of lacrosse to market the Coast Guard and tackle the issue of diversity head-on.

In an aim to reach more diverse communities the men’s lacrosse teams from the Coast Guard Academy and Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBAU) partnered in a day of community outreach and fellowship last Saturday at Currie Park in West Palm Beach, Fla. The cadets and student athletes were paired up with children from the West Palm Beach community where they were able to make a positive impact on the local youth as they mentored them during a hands-on clinic. The clinic was hosted through the U.S. Lacrosse Building Relationships to Initiate Diversity Growth and Enrichment (BRIDGE) program. This nationally established program brings the sport of lacrosse to the forefront of creating positive influences and life-skill lessons to youth in communities not previously exposed to the sport.

Chief Petty Officer Phillip Blackwell, a Coast Guard recruiter in Miami, hopes that the past weekend’s event and others in the future will serve as a connection to many of the culturally diverse communities that would otherwise not be exposed to the Coast Guard and its vast career opportunities. “Establishing this relationship through initiatives such as what was achieved this past weekend serve as a bridge to the community,” said Blackwell. “By partnering and building relationships with the West Palm Beach community we are fostering the diversity so necessary for our service.”

Bill Allen, president of the local BRIDGE affiliate, Palm Beach Lacrosse Foundation, also saw this as a significant event for both teams. “We promote lacrosse to any underserved player in our area – this event was great for exposing these kids to more lacrosse and to a prestigious military service like the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Allen. “As some of our student-athletes look for future endeavors via the sport of lacrosse I will whole heartedly recommend that they choose the Coast Guard as a very viable option.”

The Coast Guard Academy Lacrosse team was in town over spring break for the 2011 Sailfish Shootout Lacrosse Tournament hosted by PBAU. The Diversity Open House included a fly-in and static display by an MH-65C helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Miami, a mobile training trailer and seven Tactical Operators clad with the latest weapons and tactical gear from TACtical Law Enforcement Team (TACLET) – South and a recruiting and information booth manned by Recruiting Office Miami.

The Coast Guard Academy Men’s Lacrosse program hopes to further the diversity goals of the Coast Guard through the sport of lacrosse by increasing awareness among all minorities of the career and education opportunities in our service. Coast Guard Team Captain, Cadet 1/c Matt Chase said, “the basic message is that you can get a great education and you can tap into a great network, and you can be successful in the Coast Guard – we just send that message through the sport of lacrosse.” By sharing the excellent Coast Guard career and education opportunities, the hope is to increase the number of applications from qualified minority candidates for the Coast Guard Academy and for other Coast Guard civilian, active duty and reserve jobs.

The Coast Guard Academy Men’s Lacrosse program, in their partnership with PBAU, has taken the call for diversity as a leadership commitment to heart. The valuable lessons they learn as cadets and athletes will have fleet-wide impacts, as they will soon be propelled directly into positions of leadership as junior officers in the United States Coast Guard.

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As the smallest of the five U.S. service academies, the Coast Guard Academy offers the elite higher education, rigorous professional development, and honor and tradition of a military academy but with a more personalized approach.

The CGA offers an integrated life experience which emphasizes academics, physical fitness, character and leadership, in order to graduate officers of the highest caliber. Graduates go directly to positions of leadership in “The Shield of Freedom,” one of the most admired organizations in the world. The Academy also features an impressive teacher-student ratio and picturesque waterfront campus that instills a traditional small college feel.

Cadets devote themselves to an honor concept and graduate to work at sea, on land, in the air, and even in space, in meaningful careers of selfless service to others.