Britt Read, left, and Crysti Foote with their son, River. | Kait Devir / Athletes Unlimited

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.

Britt Read is entering her fourth season in Athletes Unlimited lacrosse and has made 311 career saves in the pros with a 52% save rate. Crysti Foote is a facilitator with Athletes Unlimited and coached the U.S. women’s sixes team to a gold medal at the 2023 World Lacrosse Women’s Super Sixes tournament. She’s also an assistant on the U.S. women’s box staff set to compete later this year in Utica, N.Y.

Read and Foote began their relationship in 2017 and married a few years later. They have a son, River, who is 19 months old.

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?

Britt Read: My mom put me in lacrosse because she wanted to get me away from playing baseball with the boys. She threw me into lacrosse, and I ended up falling in love with it.

Crysti Foote: I’m from Canada originally, and my father’s in the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame. My whole family played. I was kinda just thrown into it. I actually played box lacrosse to start and transitioned to women’s field.

What about lacrosse made you fall in love with it?

BR: The speed of the sport, for sure. Everyone gets to touch the ball. It’s a fast sport. You’re always busy. There’s no time to think. You just go out there and play.

CF: For me, it’s the same thing. I played a lot of other sports, but lacrosse just came naturally for me. I love how it’s continuing to grow and develop and there are new disciplines. You’re constantly learning.

BR: And I would add into that that you’re taking the IQ of different sports and putting it into lacrosse and a faster pace.

What is it like coaching in the U.S. national team program?

Crysti: It’s been awesome. I’m an assistant for box, so when I was asked to do that, I knew it would be a big undertaking considering this was the first women’s box team. It’s been really rewarding, really challenging. … It’s been really cool to see the transition from field players, mostly, who didn’t know much about box. We’ve been teaching them almost from the ground up.

Where did you meet for the first time?

BR: Through lacrosse. The lacrosse world’s small.

CF: Everyone kinda knows each other, so we just knew each other through coaching, through playing.

What was it like to get to know each other?

BR: It’s cool when you see someone in the lacrosse world and then see someone outside lacrosse. We’re all humans at the end of the day. People aren’t just defined by their sport.

CF: It’s easy when you have a sport that unites you. We had very similar friends, similar backgrounds. It’s just really easy to connect and live your life. We’re both coaching, we both travel a ton, but we both understand the nature of what it takes to be successful. It makes the relationship a lot easier. We can really have a partnership in making it successful for both us.

What was the wedding like?

CF: Britt had been working in Denver and we moved to Colorado and bought a house in May 2020. We just decided to go to the court and get married and make it legal. But we are planning on having something [bigger] once our schedules slow down.

BR: I just want a party with an open bar. That’s good enough for me.

What has been your experience being part of an inclusive league like Athletes Unlimited?

CF: They’ve been amazing. The support they have, I think it’s just for people. You can be whoever you want to be, do whatever you want, and you’re always going to be comfortable. It’s just easy. You don’t think about it twice. It’s just who they are and what they do.

BR: They definitely created a very open environment and a safe place. People go there and they feel safe. I think people find themselves at AU when they’re able to be who they want to be. AU also does their homework to be the best they can be to give parents or players the best support. They pay for our nanny to be there.

CF: It allows you to just play lacrosse and not hold you back from anything.

How have you balanced competing with and against each other in the pros?

CF: This is Britt’s fourth season and this is my third as a facilitator. I always want the best for Britt, but I want my teams to win and compete. We actually don’t talk about any of this stuff outside the field. We are competitive, but we both want each other to do well. During the weeks we aren’t on the same team, we don’t really talk about it. We’ve found a way to balance it.

BR: We’re both very competitive people, and we want to beat each other. But at the end of the day, we want the best for each other.

What’s it been like to have River along for the ride?

CF: Living in Colorado, if we lived on the East Coast, it would be different. Having to transport our whole life there for five, six weeks, without that support, it would not be possible.

BR: He lives at the field.

CF: He runs around with the lacrosse stick. He’s always on the field. He picks it up in the house.

BR: [The other AU athletes] are absolutely awesome. We can bring him for a practice, and we can take our eyes off of him, and we know someone else has him and he’s in great hands.

CF: He’s like the mascot. Everyone’s like, ‘Is River going to be there?’ It’s cool to have that.

BR: And everyone at AU can watch him grow up.

CF: It went from me being pregnant the first year to him being seven months last year. Now he’s talking.

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

BR: I think it’s about surrounding yourself with people you feel good around and knowing you don’t have to fit into a certain mold in life.

CF: It’s definitely tough, but I think lacrosse has helped both of us grow and develop. It’s who our friends are and who our support system is. … For me, it definitely took longer and there were more internal struggles than anything.

BR: I would say for me, it definitely took a little longer to voice it out to people. But I feel like I am lucky to grow up, like when I was in college, the time to start to find yourself, it started to become more of a public thing. You started to have more support. I hope that we, as a community, can make it better and better for kids in our situation.

Kenny DeJohn has been the Digital Content Editor at USA Lacrosse since 2019. This story originally ran on USA Lacrosse and has been lightly edited.