Isaiah Davis Allen, the midfielder for the Chesapeake Bayhawks, a Major League Lacrosse (MLL) team in Baltimore is making an effort to bring his experience, knowledge and love of the game to African-American children growing up in the inner city of Baltimore and Washington, DC. Learn what he thinks the youth can learn by participating in field sports and in particular lacrosse.
Why did you choose lacrosse?
The people that play the game. It’s always been focused around being tight knit and family oriented. I think that’s something that’s hard to find anywhere else. That my number 1 one reason.
What was it like growing up in Springfield, Va?
It’s diverse. My team members joke because they don’t understand. It’s really just a big melting pot of different cultures.
What made you want to bring lacrosse to inner city children?
It’s tenfold. Most of the people in the inner cities tend to be African-American. I would say growing up I had a few small role models— Jovan Miller, Chaz Woodson, and Kyle Harrison. That was pretty much it not so much on the coaching side. I don’t believe that I was coached by an African-American coach growing up. I felt like that was the easiest way to give back at the end of the day. One way to get through to kids is through athletics, rather than the classroom. I think that I could make a bigger difference on the field. What’s that classic quote? “Men’s lacrosse is a white boys game”. From the outside looking in, it does seem that way, but that’s not the case. I’m trying to build club teams to change that perspective on the sport.
What are some of your strengths and weaknesses?
My strengths would have to be honesty, leadership, and at the end of the day being consistent. That’s the best thing to bring to a team environment. Off the field, I’m not physically the biggest or strongest guy, but based on my skill set I’m not always the most affectionate or touching kind of person. This way during my two years as Captain at Maryland. It comes from the fact that I was raised on tough love.
How do you juggle working a 9 to 5 and being a professional lacrosse player?
Well, I currently work as a contractor. I’m a general contractor/project engineer within the Baltimore/DC area. I started out of college as a way to set up long term goals and forge a career path. The MLL is flexible with the schedule, and they understand that most guys have to have a 9-5 job. BUCH construction has done a great job teaching, and they also understand that I enjoy playing, so my schedule couldn’t work any better.
Do you think you’re making a impact with the children going to the inner cities?
Lacrosse has grassroots, and it’s still growing. I don’t think that I deal with the problems that most think I do. The area that I work in is so athlete-driven and/or has the athletic mindset. There are PG (Prince George) County and/or DC areas that have produced notable football and basketball players from the past few decades. I feel like it’s nothing to introduce a new sport in an area where athletics is already put up on a pedestal.
In your childhood, can you name a big support system for you?
My mother passed away late in high school, and my aunt pretty much took on the role. So definitely those two. Also Coach Trig, who coached me in high school. He runs a club called Blackwolf. From high school up to college, he helped through the transition. We actually still talk to this day. Me losing my mom going into college definitely helped me step up and I was thankful to have been provided support by the juniors and seniors on my team in college.
Besides teaching lacrosse to the youth, is there any other reason to go back and help out?
It’s funny you should say that. I recently told my teammates that with us playing a pro sport and being able to be 100% healthy and or being, for lack of a better word, “a freak of nature” athlete, we are more than blessed given our talents. It’s only right to give back to kids who can be the next best thing.
What’s your diet like?
I use to be better now with it but for now I really try my best to stay in shape. Staying in the weight room as much as possible and running as much as possible helps me stayed on top that. The diet is kind of tricky though, so I’m the wrong person to ask.
If you could talk to yourself 5 years ago, what would you say?
You only get one moment, and it could be gone in a blink of an eye.
What’s your greatest accomplishment as a person?
My greatest accomplishment as a person would probably have to be becoming the player I am after my mother’s passing. When you lose a parent, it could either go one of two ways. You can use it as a excuse for what one would call too long or it can build you back up to becoming a tougher person, That’s what I did— I pushed myself to be the best at everything I touched. That was definitely a big turning point for me; I wasn’t a little kid anymore.
What is your greatest achievement as an athlete?
Winning the national championship at the University of Maryland College Park. Up until my senior year, the team had not won a national championship since the 70s. They have been at the final four numerous times. Although I don’t know how many. The game was more of a mental battle rather than a skill battle because Maryland always had talent, but the team needed to turn the corner mentally. This is something we can actually do and that year it was different and be able to do it with a great team was a special moment for me.
Isaiah’s winning the national championship may be a special moment for him, but the steps that he’s taking now may provide a similar special moment for one of the children that he’s coaching. What he’s doing for urban communities is nothing short of spectacular. His consistency and genuine nature behind the cause is what makes all the difference. With Isaiah and Harlem Lacrosse changing the lives of many youths. The beginning of something great is happening right now.