Here in Nica, our style of lacrosse is a little different. Girls and boys play together. In past years, all of our players at Chiquilistagua and Club Hope played with men’s sticks as their only equipment. This made it easy for girls and boys to play equally and competitively on the same field. They had the same rules, the same gear, and the same love for the game.
This past fall, due to several generous donations and the rapid expansion of our programs, we were able to add helmets and gloves to all of our practices. With this addition, the game we play reaches a higher and more competitive level each day. Our players have the equipment to play harder while staying safe. While there are quite a few girls who enjoy this aspect, and continue to dominate the field, we are straying from the gender-neutral version of lacrosse we were once able play. Our practices are becoming more and more like the regulated boys’ games we know in the States. These recent changes combined with the presence of myself and local girls’ coach, Darian, have provided us with the opportunity to expand LtN Nicaragua to offer lacrosse instruction exclusively for girls.
We currently have 26 girls participating in co-ed practices. These girls will be able to continue to do so, with the additional option to attend girls-only sessions with women’s equipment. Princeton Women’s Lacrosse was generous enough to donate the first round of goggles and sticks to make these practices possible. The creation of a women’s program will take some time. Interest for the sport needs to grow organically – similarly to how we started our co-ed programs years back. I spend time at Chiquilistagua on Monday and Thursday afternoons, so that girls can join during recess or come outside of the co-ed practice time to receive girl-specific instruction. Right now, we have five girls who have been attending outside of co-ed participants, with new ones showing interest.
I think once more girls see these afternoon sessions, more interest will be generated. Lacrosse is still very much a foreign sport here. To a middle or high school aged girl, playing in full mens’ gear can be pretty intimidating. Being able to see girls throw around in space dedicated solely to women’s lacrosse, women’s instruction, and the building of a women’s team environment will attract more girls to explore this new and exciting sport. Once number rise, we can begin holding a full practice using all girls’ equipment and rules. Considering our recent program growth and current staff, this is the perfect time to make this expansion. With the experience of our old players and excitement of our new ones, I believe the girls’ program is going to take off with record speed!