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Charlotte North says her partner is the best thing that's ever happened to her.

For Charlotte North, Coming Out is 'Something I'll Never Forget'

June 27, 2024
Kenny DeJohn
Charlotte North, Kait Devir

In honor of Pride Month, we are partnering with Athletes Unlimited and Outsports to share the stories of players, administrators and leaders of the women’s professional lacrosse league that are proud members of the LGBTQ+ community.

We hope to shine a light on the ways the league is helping foster an inclusive environment, while showcasing the unique perspectives of those that will take part in the league this summer.

Charlotte North is a two-time Tewaaraton Award winner and one-time national champion at Boston College who held the Division I women’s all-time goals record until Izzy Scane broke it in 2024. North is a gold medalist on the U.S. women’s national team and a member of the U.S. women’s box inaugural training team.

North can also be seen this summer playing in the fourth season of Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse. North lends her expertise to ESPN as a gameday analyst, too.

Lacrosse is a game for all. USA Lacrosse is committed to fostering a national lacrosse community that encourages understanding, appreciation and acceptance of all. We believe that broad representation and participation, through accessibility and availability to everyone, add significant value to the lacrosse experience of each of us.

How did you get into lacrosse?

I got into lacrosse in seventh grade when my best friend at the time played for the school team, and I wasn’t participating in a spring sport. She encouraged me to try out for the team. She lent me her backup stick. It was bright pink with green tape.

Ever since I went out there with them, I loved it. I became obsessed.

What about lacrosse made you fall in love with it?

The biggest thing was the creative aspect to it, the ability to develop your own style — the ability to have so much fun with that process and dive into the learning process.

What is it like being part of the first U.S. Women’s Box Training Team?

At the Fall Classic the year that we won in 2022 at Towson with the senior national team, I remember talking at a team meal and someone had mentioned that there was going to be the women’s box discipline. I was so excited because I always wanted to play, but there were no opportunities for me to play growing up in box.

I watched a lot of indoor games and also a lot of college teams would practice in a box setting, whether it be in fall ball or a random day in practice, because it helps your game in so many different ways.

My first love was basketball, and a lot of that comes into play with the box discipline. I love the different things that go into it.

What has it been like having a platform with ESPN?

I always had dreams to play professionally, dreams to play at the highest level and that be my life. I love the sport so much, the things it’s taught me, the people and relationships it’s brought me and the places it’s brought me to.

I also have had a passion and a love for all sports. Some more than others, but watching sports and playing sports, has been my whole life. I’ve been drawn to sports broadcasting and journalism, growing up watching it on TV and seeing what goes into it.

I was very lucky the season after I graduated college to call some men’s and women’s games and some PLL as well. It’s been a really, really fun experience.

Charlotte North and Ryan Smith
Charlotte North and her partner, Ryan Smith, celebrate Boston College's national championship in May on the field in Cary, N.C.
Charlotte North

'The Best Thing'

Charlotte North on her relationship with Ryan Smith: "There are so many ups and downs in the journey of life, and it’s something that is so special to me. It really just shows that no matter what it is — a boring day, a busy day, a hard day — everything is something I want to share with her."

What is your Coming Out story?

It was right after I graduated college. It kinda happened over time, but primarily after college. My girlfriend and I told people that we were together. That’s something I’ll never forget, just being surrounded by the people that we love and telling the people that we love our story.

It’s not something we take for granted, because not everyone receives that. And for some, it’s quite the opposite.

It’s been a little over two years, which is amazing. It doesn’t always go that way, so we recognize that and want to help in any way that we can.

What has been your experience being part of an inclusive league like Athletes Unlimited?

It’s amazing. They do such a good job as a league of allowing us to use our platform and use our voices to shed light on things that matter to us. They’ve done that for so long in not just lacrosse, but across all of their leagues. We really value that and really appreciate that they do that.

There are so many leaders within our group of players that we all lean on each other and communicate and amplify each other’s voices. We feel we become a lot closer as a group when we get to really hear each other’s stories and learn about each other’s journeys.

What has been your experience being part of an inclusive team like the women’s national team?

Very similar. Every single weekend or tryout or training camp and every person I’ve been around has been so welcoming and inviting. It’s a community of people who really just put their arms around each other and lead each other in certain ways. It feels like a bond that you’ll have forever, no matter what team you played on.

How would you describe your relationship and your partner?

I would describe the relationship as “the best thing that’s ever happened.” There are so many ups and downs in the journey of life, and it’s something that is so special to me. It really just shows that no matter what it is — a boring day, a busy day, a hard day — everything is something I want to share with her.

She is just so supportive of everything, really loving and caring. She’s the most fun person to be around and makes me laugh every day. She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

What would you say to someone who is struggling with their identity as a member of the LGBTQ community whether they are figuring out how to tell their loved ones or facing negativity for living as who they are?

The best advice I would give would be not being afraid. It sounds a lot easier than it is, but I think that if you go through life and you find out who you really are deep down and what you value and what you’re passionate about, that is so valuable.

But as a woman, especially in the world of sports, it can be hard to find the place that you’re most comfortable to show and be who you are. It can be hard to find that sense of self-confidence and self-belief.

The most important thing is to not be afraid to find those people and that environment where you do feel that way.