The Israeli men's national lacrosse team may soon have an openly gay player. The team has reached out to former professional lacrosse goalie Andrew Goldstein to join the team for an exhibition game Sept. 29 against the Iroquois Nationals team.
Hoping to find a starting goalie for the upcoming Lacrosse World Championships in Denver next July, Israel Lacrosse founder Scott Neiss contacted Goldstein last week. Goldstein knew Neiss when the two were in Major League Lacrosse, and Neiss has contacted several American-born Jewish athletes who could potentially secure an Israeli passport.
It will be the first world championship competition for Israel. Goldstein is used to firsts. When he came out publicly in 2005, he was the first Div. 1 lacrosse player to do so. He was, at the time, the most accomplished male athlete to ever come out publicly while still competing. Later that year he became the first openly gay male to be drafted by a professional sports league, when the Boston Cannons selected Goldstein in Major League Lacrosse's draft. This weekend, Goldstein was inducted to the first class of the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame.
For Goldstein, this is just the latest example of his sexual orientation having no effect on his sports career.
"It says, at least in this area of sports, sexual orientation is far from an issue," Goldstein said. "I've already played in the professional league. So them coming to me to play in this tournament had nothing to do with me being gay."
Goldstein last played professional lacrosse for the Long Island Lizards in 2006. He has continued to play competitive ice hockey but has not tended goal in a lacrosse game in some time. To get back in lacrosse shape, Goldstein will be playing pick-up games and practicing with other elite-level lacrosse players in Southern California over the next two months.
"I'm ready to be back on the field wearing the jersey," Goldstein told Outsports. "I'm ready for [my partner] Jamie to get to see me play, to be on the field running around and making saves. For an athlete, once you have it you never lose it."
If he's selected for the team, he will need to travel to Israel to apply for a passport. He has not been to Israel since he was young.
"The only time being gay came up was when Scott said I should go to Tel Aviv to get my passport because it's the gay capital of the Middle East," Goldstein said.
The game against the Iroquois will take place in Syracuse, N.Y. It was in Syracuse that Goldstein made NCAA history as the first lacrosse goalie to score a goal in an NCAA Div. 1 tournament game in over two decades.
Goldstein is a regular speaker with the You Can Play project.
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