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“It’s a challenge to play something that is completely different and no one knows anything about,” Lancer Girls’ Lacrosse coach Jill McDonald said. “When someone first asked me to play [lacrosse], I was like, ‘What’s that?’”
This is not the first year that East has had a girls’ lacrosse team, but it is the first that the team is really focusing on getting lacrosse sponsored by the school. Getting the team sponsored would help them receive benefits like increased school interest, more players and more field time — but the process is much more complicated than you might think.
According to co-captain Jocelyn Worner, the sponsorship requires that each school in the district has enough interest in the sport to start their own team. Getting sponsored is a difficult task since it would require the district to purchase each teams’ equipment, which can cost around $100 per player, and requires that each school in the district have it’s own team.
Since the team is not yet sponsored by the district, the players have to purchase their own equipment and aren’t allowed to use the weights room unless accompanied by a school-sponsored sport. Until this year, they couldn’t play home games on East turf. On top of that, the team’s only got two seasons under their belt.
“We got killed our first few games and the majority of our first season,” creator of the team and East graduate Marissa Horwitz said. “I don’t think we won a single varsity game… We were the newest team with the least amount of experience.”
As one of the youngest teams in their league, the Lancers had to start completely from scratch. Not only did they have to find girls who were willing to play and fields to practice on, but they also had to learn the basics of a complex and confusing game. At the beginning of their first season, less than a quarter of the team could teach those fundamentals.
“[The first few practices freshman year were] awful,” Worner said. “It was cold and muddy and we played really late at night, like 5:30 to 6:30, sometimes 7:30, and at that time in the winter it’s really cold and dark out. We had a hard time seeing the ball because it was so dark and we didn’t have lights and nobody knew how to play except for five people.”
The games themselves didn’t go much better. The team knew they were disorganized. They knew they had next to no experience. They knew that people laughed at the idea of a girls’ team and said it was impossible for a girl to play lacrosse. But they also knew that they had already jumped through a million hoops just to get the team started, and they weren’t going to stop trying now that they were finally there.
“People made jokes… said that we were too girly or that cheerleaders couldn’t play lacrosse,” Horwitz said. “But I think [the girls] kind of liked the challenge of people saying… ‘you won’t last a day.’”
But the team did last. First days, then weeks. A season later, they had made it through the team’s starting year. Though it had been one full of tough losses, they knew that they had nowhere to go but up.
“[Our very first few games], nobody knew what they were doing,” senior Caroline Wooldridge, co-captain of the team, said. “There were fouls, some yellow cards… but the next season, my junior year, we got 4th overall, so we did a lot better.”
After being ranked last in their league, they rose to 4th place in their second season. Veteran players from the season before were able to teach the new girls. The varsity and junior varsity teams were becoming more organized and developed, not only allowing the advanced girls to get down techniques and skill instead of just reviewing basics, but also allowing the smaller teams to bond.
This year, the team says they have established even stronger leadership with Jocelyn Worner and Caroline Wooldridge as new co-captains. The two have been a part of the program since its beginning three years ago, and are setting new goals for the team’s improvement this season.
This year, the team is going to continue to try and become school-sponsored in hopes to get more school involvement. The team is counting on their new Board of Directors, a group of parents created this year, to provide structure and keep the team organized. They also anticipate becoming more prominent in the community simply by stimulating school awareness through playing their home games at East.
Though the upcoming season will no doubt bring challenges to the Lancer Girls’ Lacrosse team, they’re confident that the leadership system they’ve established this year will help the team be more organized. And Mcdonald, who feels lacrosse doesn’t have to be expensive, thinks they’re on their way to becoming a school sanctioned sport.
“It’s cheaper to set up a girl’s lacrosse team than a basketball team,” Mcdonald said. “I don’t think [getting school sponsorship] is that far off.”
Differences in Boys and Girls Lacrosse
Equipment: Unlike boys, girls do not wear pads and helmets. Instead, they wear goggles.
Fouls: Because girls wear less equipment than boys, there are more potential fouls. Girls cannot hit other players with their sticks and if their stick comes too close to another player’s head, a foul is called.
Face-off: Boys face off with the ball on the ground and two players battle to pick it up. Girls face off holding the ball between two players’ sticks and they both try to flick it up.