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Athletes Unlimited director of sport for lacrosse Abi Jackson

See Us, Be You: How Athletes Unlimited Empowers Its Athletes

July 1, 2024
Abi Jackson

To celebrate Pride Month, USA Lacrosse partnered 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.

This editorial is by Abi Jackson, the director of sport for lacrosse at Athletes Unlimited.

It’s summer. June to be exact, and with June comes Pride Month and Juneteenth.

I grew up in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, an extremely diverse neighborhood, surrounded by people of all races, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations and gender identities. I was lucky to have my formative years in such a place, where humans of all kinds were represented in my day-to-day.

I am also very aware that there are millions of others who did not have the luxury of being exposed to this type of environment, where each person felt and knew that it was alright to be themselves.

The professional sports landscape looks much different than it did even 10 years ago, thankfully. More and more athletes are comfortable with who they truly are and feel safe in sharing their identity with their teammates, their organizations and the world.

There was a time, for both men and women, that even the slightest accusation or suspicion of identifying as anything other than straight and cisgendered would signal the death of careers and the destruction of reputations. Even a few years ago, a pregnancy could mean the loss of endorsements or being cut from a team at a time when community and a support system would be most important.

Athletes Unlimited provides a welcoming environment for all of our athletes, and everyone within our organization comes to work every day as their full and authentic selves. Powered by the diverse community within AU, we are able to develop and provide programming, resources and support systems for our athletes and staff that allow them to do the thing they do best, without having to worry about who they are and what it might mean for their careers.

I’m so fortunate to work for a company that embraces and supports everyone, exactly as they are. I can be myself, show up to events with my partner and know that everyone in the AU community will fully embrace us.

Representation is so critical today, particularly in the professional sports space. With all of the change, derision and decisiveness that we face today as a society, the saying “if you can see it, you can be it” has resonated poignantly with me of late. The knowledge that our athletes are role models to millions of young athletes drives me in my work every day.

As one of the few queer sports executives of color, my goal is to provide a positive example and ensure that our fans both new and old know that lacrosse is a space for everyone.

At AU we are constantly striving to provide support and resources to the lacrosse community and help develop ways for our athletes to utilize their platforms for positive visibility and be engines for change and growth within our sport. Our hope is that our fans will see us, all of us, just as we are, and be empowered to show up in their own lives as authentically themselves.

See us, be you. 

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