Ally Kennedy, left, and Taylor Moreno met first in junior high and reconnected later through lacrosse. | USA Lacrosse

In honor of Pride Month, USA Lacrosse is 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.

Taylor Moreno, who played at North Carolina, is the two-time defending Athletes Unlimited pro lacrosse champion and Ally Kennedy is one of the best players in Stony Brook University in New York history — as well as an Athletes Unlimited staple herself.

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?

Ally Kennedy: I got my start in lacrosse because my two older siblings played. My sister’s nine years older than me and my brother’s five years older than me. I was just dragged to tournaments and got my introduction that way. My older sister also went to Stony Brook and I just grew up around lacrosse and fell in love with it. I’ve had a stick in my hand for forever. I started off playing soccer, and my parents decided that they wanted me to branch out and play a different sport.

Taylor Moreno: I picked up lacrosse in about third or fourth grade, and I was a midfielder at first. Then, I decided to start playing goalie when I was in sixth grade. I just grew up around lacrosse. It was a big sport that was played in my town and I fell in love with it from day one.

What about lacrosse made you fall in love with it?

AK: The people that I met playing lacrosse drew me to the sport. Once I started to play and joined my summer team, I loved the speed, the pace, the physicality, the IQ of it all. I think it was something that I naturally liked to do. I played soccer just as Taylor did, but there’s just something about lacrosse and I can’t put my finger on it. I fell in love with it and continued to play.

TM: The biggest thing was playing the position, as a goalie, I fell in love with the adrenaline rush. I love the speed and the pace of the game. I felt like soccer was a little bit slower, and I saw a couple of shots, but in lacrosse, I saw way more. So, I don’t know. In the position I played, I had such a big impact on my team.

Where did you meet for the first time?

TM: Junior year of high school?

AK: Yeah, junior year, we got selected to play on the Long Island Under Armor Underclass team.

TM: That was where the friendship started. From then on, we ended up on other teams and would speak to each other. We had a lot of things in common and gravitated toward each other. That’s where the friendship started to sprout.

How did that friendship go when you went off to play college lacrosse? Did you play each other?

AK: Yeah, she ended my career.

TM: I honestly should apologize.

AK: She didn’t even give me a hug after the game. She was scared of me.

TM: I thought she was going to be mad at me.

AK: So rude.

TM: We didn’t play each other until 2021, when Stony Brook bused down to play us. Then, we played in the elite eight. It was a great game. Between then, we didn’t get a lot of opportunities to see each other.

AK: I’d do random check-ins and then we’d run into each other at a tournament, or one of the U.S. tryouts would be like, ‘Oh my God, we have to hang out when we get home.’

When were you able to reconnect?

TM: We saw Stony Brook again, my sixth year at [North] Carolina, and in the Elite Eight again. At the time, Ally was a grad assistant. I made up for my lack of comfort the first time. I walked up to her and we had a nice conversation, and our friendship rekindled very quickly. We started talking to each other more. We had a lot more of the U.S. training camps going on. She became a comfort zone for me.

When did you know that you were attracted to women? And to each other?

TM: I came out to my parents in my sophomore year of college. It was funny because you usually have that reaction of, ‘We probably could figured that out’ or, ‘We had this feeling.’ I was fortunate enough to have a team at Carolina that was very receptive and very supportive of it. That gave me the ability to want to truly be who I was. I felt like it was a part of me that I was holding back. My parents were supportive of it. I’m super grateful to have such a supportive family who embraced that side of me. It felt like I had a weight lifted off my shoulders. I would have been fine doing it earlier, but I still needed that time to develop and figure myself out on my own. That was what the college experience did for me.

AK: I was new to the club. Brand new. It was way different than Taylor, because I was way older when I came out and I had past relationships before, all with men. I didn’t know until Taylor and I became closer, and I’m having these feelings of an emotional connection to her and attraction. I told my mom first. I was 23. It was pretty shocking for my family. But to give them so much credit, they were so supportive and didn’t even bat an eye. I was so nervous to tell my dad. I remember talking to him in a restaurant about it, which is probably the worst place to do it. We both got super emotional and cried because he’s like, ‘I just love you and I don’t care. I just want you to be happy.’ When I told them I’m with Taylor, they’re like, ‘That’s sick. We’ve known her for so long and she’s a great person.’

How powerful was it when you got that support from your family?

TM: Having the initial feeling of, ‘This is who I truly am,’ and that feeling of, ‘I’m not sure if they will be fine with this,’ is a scary place. I wanted to tell somebody, but I didn’t know how. It was building up the courage and looking to my inner circle of friends and family and saying, ‘I know that this is who I am and this is who I want to be.’ Knowing that I had those people supporting me was something that gave me the confidence to tell the people that I knew it would have a huge impact on. I ended up telling my sister first, just to get it off my chest. I was halfway there. Once I was able to tell my parents and get that support, it made the transition so much easier.

AK: I think my approach to it was a little different because I was more of an adult. I thought my parents were going to support me. They’ve supported me my whole life. I know other people that have gone into that same situation with that same mindset, and then the rug is ripped out from under them when they don’t get that support. I’m so lucky that my core support system doesn’t treat me any differently and doesn’t even bat an eye. All of them love me regardless, and love Taylor too. And our two dogs.

Let’s talk about the dogs.

TM: Ally actually cried about Rocky. She misses him so much.

AK: I gave birth to him, that’s how I feel. I got Rocky in 2020, so he’s more like a stepdog for Taylor. He is super energetic and desperately needed a brother. In April of last year, I’m like, ‘I have an adult salary. I have a townhome. Taylor is living with me now. Who’s going to tell me I can’t get a puppy?’ I drove up to Pennsylvania and bought a puppy and didn’t give Taylor a chance to say no. Rocky was a boxer, so we ended up getting another boxer [named Tyson]. Now, I think she understands how I feel about Rocky.

TM: Tyson feels like my child now. Having the two dogs and this little quaint family that we have going right now has been the best thing that’s ever happened to both of us. They have so much love for each other. The running photo album we have right now is the moments in which the two of them find themselves cuddling or laying on each other.

Ally Kennedy and Taylor Moreno with their boxers, Rocky and Tyson. Photo courtesy of USA Lacrosse.

How have you balanced being together with playing professional lacrosse?

TM: I’m a stay-at-home mom. I watch the dogs while Ally goes to work. I keep them occupied all day. The moment at which they finally calm down, Ally walks through the door and the energy in the room explodes. I love being around not only her, but being able to share the sport of lacrosse with her. I feel so much better traveling, between the U.S. events and the Athletes Unlimited season. It’s a realm of comfort and support that you don’t always get. Having that constantly and how much we’re able to train with each other in the offseason has been super beneficial not only to my game, but my overall love for the sport.

AK: We do a good job balancing it because we both go to our respective gyms to work out and do strength training. When it comes to lacrosse, I have the best goalie in the world in my living room. I’m like, we’re going to come and you’re going to stand in net and I’m going to shoot on you. My shooting has completely taken off. There are days where she has my number and days I have her number, but usually it’s her receiving more of my shots.

What has been your experience playing in an inclusive league like Athletes Unlimited?

AK: They do an unreal job. Everyone goes to the inclusivity training, which is great. What’s even better is that the players do something called ‘In the Crease.’ There are different subjects or topics discussed and like talked about, including LGBTQ players. We’ve also hosted Pride Nights, which is something that I love. The biggest part of playing for Athletes Unlimited is that we’re not alone in our sexuality, our preferences, or even dating a teammate. We just try to allow the space to share those stories and be ourselves.

TM: Not even in the space of lacrosse, but in the space of all the other sports that Athletes Unlimited is involved in, it is a topic in which they continue to promote the sport and continue to grow the community that we’re a part of. Having that support and walking into a space where we can play our sport at the highest level and truly be who we are, is something that takes a lot of weight off of your shoulders.

What would you tell someone who was in your position, struggling with the decision of sharing who they are?

TM: Whether it’s your sophomore year of high school or your sophomore year of college, truly valuing who you are as a person is freeing. It’s exciting and it is scary, yet humbling at the same time. Find your group of people who you can confide in and you can trust. They are the people that deserve to love you the most. While sometimes some people may need a little bit of time adjusting, it doesn’t mean that they don’t love you. It means that they’re working through it just as much as you are, and that’s OK. That leap of faith is going to be how you truly become the true version of yourself.

AK: I didn’t even realize I was acting differently. When I did make the decision to come out, everyone was pretty much like, ‘Oh my God, you seem so much more relaxed.’ I was finally myself and I didn’t have to put on a face. It’s so freeing and there’s going to be ups and downs. It’s realistic to say that not everyone is going to be OK with it, but as long as you’re OK with it and you have a good core supporting group, you’re going to be fine.

Matt Hamilton is the content marketing manager at USA Lacrosse, having served as a staff writer for four years. This story originally ran on USA Lacrosse and has been lightly edited.

You can follow Ally Kennedy and Taylor Moreno on Instagram.