Tina Sloan Green is all about exposure. Just not hers.
The first African American college women's lacrosse coach in the United States, Sloan Green is already in the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame, the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and in September she received the Philadelphia Legacies Award for her contribution to sports.
On the field, Sloan Green won three national women's lacrosse championships at Temple in the 1980s, compiling a 207-62-4 record in 18 seasons.
These days, Sloan Green, 74, still focuses on introducing players of color to the game she grew to love — and then dominate.
"We try to get our girls out" to see lacrosse games, Sloan Green said, referring to the girls she meets through the Philadelphia-based Black Women in Sport Foundation she helped found in 1992. "Go to Penn. Go to Temple. Go out and see games, and it might be one or two [black] people out there playing. But at least they are seeing somebody. Exposure. Exposure."
Growing up in the Eastwick pocket of Southwest Philadelphia with seven siblings, Sloan Green didn't get much exposure to organized sports. The kids on her block played their own games — hopscotch, stickball, and kick the can. It wasn't until she attended Girls' High that Sloan Green discovered lacrosse. It's been her mission ever since to share her love for the sport.
"It was really important to her to provide women of color opportunities, how we can figure out how to do that a little more in the recruiting process for our program," said Bonnie Rosen, the current Temple women's lacrosse coach.
There is plenty of room for more people of color to compete in lacrosse. Since 2012, lacrosse has seen a 35 percent increase in participation in the United States, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association of Silver Spring, Md. But the increase in college players of color has lagged. Based on a 2011- 2012 NCAA.com report, male athletes of color represented 5.7 percent of the total, and women were 8 percent. This year, male participation is 9.5 percent, and women is 8.4 percent.
In 2012, blacks made up 2 percent of Division I male lacrosse players and 3 percent of female players. This year, both black men and women are at 3.2 percent.
"She reminds me every time I see her," Rosen said. "How can we do a better job of creating the opportunity at the younger levels and actively finding women of color who will come and play lacrosse at Temple?"
In 1958, when she was a freshman in high school, her family moved to Chichester. It was then, at Girls’ High (Philadelphia High School for Girls), that a physical education teacher asked Sloan Green to try out for the field hockey team even though she had never played the game.
"She knew I was a good athlete," Sloan Green said.
After high school, Green attended West Chester University. During her sophomore year there, the women's lacrosse coach asked her to go out for the team for many of the same reasons as the high school field hockey coach.
“I had never played lacrosse, but, again, I was fast,” said Sloan Green.
Green went on to become an All-American at West Chester and was inducted into the West Chester Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988.
"It was great to have caring coaches who recognized talent and directed me to the right situations," Sloan Green said.
While at West Chester, Sloan Green began to foster her coaching skills during frequent visits home to Chichester. She had three younger foster sisters and frequently took them to swim lessons and other activities at the YMCA.
"I think it was good for me because I had the opportunity to really practice coaching," said Sloan Green. One of her sisters went on to play field hockey at Temple while Sloan Green was coaching there.
After graduating from West Chester, Sloan Green worked as a physical education teacher at Unionville High School. Then she returned to Philadelphia to coach basketball at William Penn High School.
In 1970, a sorority sister from West Chester recommended Sloan Green to Lincoln University officials, and she got a job there coaching cheerleading and basketball. Her schedule was busy as she also competed as a member of both the U.S. national field hockey team — she was the first black woman on the team — and the U.S. national women's lacrosse team. She even started a women's lacrosse team at Lincoln.
"They told me I could start a lacrosse team if I wanted because they really wanted me to come," said Sloan Green.
In 1974, Sloan Green took a job at Temple to coach badminton, women's lacrosse and field hockey, and she earned six teaching credits. During that time, Sloan Green developed a coaching course for students relating to the sports she coached.
Her first year at Temple was rough, with the lacrosse team going 1-4. But Sloan Green recruited some talented players, and the wins began to pile up. Nine years after she started, Sloan Green guided the women's lacrosse team to its first NCAA national title.
"We were told, 'All you have to do is to is make regionals,' " Sloan Green said. "The main sports were going to be volleyball and basketball. I was used to going for the top. I wanted to be a national champion. That was a challenge."
As for recruiting, Sloan Green could not find many local women of color playing lacrosse. So she started her own recruiting camps.
“Field hockey and lacrosse are preppy sports, and a lot of the rural areas didn’t have lacrosse and field hockey,” she said. “Since we were never invited to the preppy camps, we decided to start our own camp.”
In her personal life, Sloan Green went on to marry Frank Green Jr., January 1978. The couple has two children together, Frank Green III and Traci Louise Green, who are both collegiate tennis coaches.
Sloan Green's best season at Temple was in 1988 when the Owls went 19-0 and beat Penn State for the NCAA championship. She also oversaw 29-game win steaks in the 1983-84 and 1984-85 seasons and took the team to 11 consecutive NCAA Final Four appearances. She coached Temple's field hockey team from 1974 to 1979.
Aamina Thornton, a black lacrosse player Sloan Green recruited and a key player on the 1988 national championship team, said Sloan Green wanted her players to be good students as well as winning athletes.
"She treated us like young women, and she wanted us to experience college life. So she encouraged us to work together as a team but also find your other passion," said Thornton, who was inducted into Temple's Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. "She was a fair but tough coach."
Thornton runs her own club lacrosse team and is the varsity coach at her alma mater, Phoenixville High School. Like Sloan Green, she is working to get lacrosse seen and played by more people of color.
"I would like to see more diversity at Temple," Thornton said. "That was one of the things that helped me decide [to play there], because she didn't see colors."
In Sloan Green's first eight seasons there, Temple was not a member of the NCAA. In 1982, the Owls went 16-2-1 and won the national championship in their last season in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. The next season, Temple competed in the NCAA and won two more national championships, in 1984 and 1988.
Sloan Green and the Owls also made it to the national championship games in 1983 and 1987 but lost.
These days, Sloan Green, who left Temple in 1992, continues to be active at Temple, helping Rosen recruit more women of color.
Rosen recalls the message Sloan Green delivered when Rosen first arrived: "Bonnie, make a difference."