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Former @phillybarrage, WC East standout Horsey reflects on push for social justice, being an African-American lax player

Thursday, 24th September 2020

Categories Boy's/Men's, Pro, Posted 9/24/20 – From Press Release

Former Philadelphia Barrage, Loyola and West Chester East standout midfielder Bobby Horsey never thought he would return to Major League Lacrosse (MLL).

Bobby Horsey

That all changed when current Barrage head coach Spencer Ford called Horsey before the summer and asked if he would like to coach for the Connecticut Hammerheads.

While Horsey was ecstatic that he was able to come back and coach, this summer was more than lacrosse. Yes, it was a time to reflect on his lacrosse experience, but also on what’s happening in our country. 

Growing up, Horsey never felt like he was isolated from just being an African-American lacrosse player, but as he got older, that changed. 

“At the end of my career, when I turned 30, I looked back at all of my team pictures, and noticed that I was always the only [black player],” said Horsey, an All-American at WC East and Loyola and now the head coach at St. John’s College High School in D.C. “When I coach now, and when I talk to my students in the classroom, I make sure that they understand my color.

“I make sure they understand that even though you may not feel like or realize you’re the only one, you represent a group of people that has been oppressed in this country for over 400 years.”

The killing of George Floyd and other Black men and women ignited a spark of social justice movements across the world this summer.  The Black Lives Matter movement brought copious amounts of awareness to this issue.

“It’s all about awareness and education,” Horsey said. “A lot of this has been focused on police brutality and killings, but it’s way deeper than that. It’s micro-aggressions, stereotyping, and these instincts and feelings that people don’t even realize they have.” 

Horsey said having the MLL 4 include him when they came together to stand at half-field in support of racial injustices in this country was extremely special.

“For me, it was a reflective moment, but for them, it was an opportunity to take action, and I applaud them for it,” he said. 
This summer also brought a time of contemplation for Horsey about his MLL career. Horsey knew he couldn’t pass up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come back and coach. 
“I didn’t even talk to my wife,” he said. “I didn’t even look at my schedule. I  just said yes, I’m in, I’ll make it work. After that first practice, I felt at home. It was a cool experience, and I hope I can do it again.” 
After losing the first two games, Horsey helped bring the Hammerheads back to win their next three. His experience at the professional level helped guide the young team.
Throughout his professional career, Horsey played seven seasons and won two consecutive Steinfeld Trophies with the Barrage. The West Chester, native said winning those championships meant a lot to him, the city, Barrage fans and Philly lacrosse fans. 

“We went into every practice and every game wanting to represent them to the best of our ability,” Horsey said. “It was nice to win a championship for this city.” 
Winning a championship requires a high level of tenacity, but winning back-to-back championships is extremely difficult. 
Horsey emphasized that the Barrage’s attitude and the future, and current Hall of Famers that were on this team was a key factor in getting them those trophies. They had Brian Dougherty (former Episcopal and Maryland great and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy coach), Ryan Boyle, Kevin Cassese (now Lehigh coach), Brian Spallina, and many more talented players, backed by former Barrage Head Coach and legend Tony Resch.
“As a coach now, and leading my youth and high school teams, I have to step back and say ‘you played with some of the best to ever play the game. You’ve got to lower your expectations a little bit for this 9th grader,” Horsey said. “I pinch myself every now and then and say ‘did I really play with these guys and win these championships?’

“It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
While Horsey will always be grateful for lacrosse and all it’s given him, it goes beyond the sport. 
“It’s a game where I slept with my stick,” Horsey said. “Even now, I walk my dog, and I take my stick with me and just cradle it. It’s more than a game and the flash and the flow. I think that’s what it needs to be for everybody. “


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