By Ottawa Sports Pages, For Gloucester Lacrosse Association
The Gloucester U17 Lady Griffins are a group of inspiring young leaders, and they are helping shine a light on the opportunities available in box lacrosse for girls of all ages in the Ottawa area.
Their efforts mirror the Ontario Lacrosse Association’s Ambassador Program, where the girls and women who play, ref and coach the game share their experiences in lacrosse to help bring others into the fold.
Many of the U17 Lady Griffins came to lacrosse seeking to work on crossover skills for their winter sports during the summertime, but discovered a sport that gives them so much more.
“You just make so many good friendships,” underlines Leine Biro, who was first a ringette player. “When I come back to lacrosse season, it’s like you start right where you left off. It’s like coming home. Everyone needs to feel that.”
Team Coach Jarrett Chalmers has watched his players develop some great moves on the floor over the years, but has also seen a rise in their self-confidence, strength, toughness, teamwork and social interactions.
“With the game of lacrosse, there is a lot that translates to life in general,” he highlights. “You know, these girls are sisters. And they go to the wall for each other. I think they’re really learning the importance of family and friendship.”
Jarrett’s daughter Chloe Chalmers is “a pretty introverted person” who was “not a very social person, but with lacrosse, I feel like everyone’s my friend,” she indicates. “Everyone’s so nice and we all get along. It’s a really great atmosphere.”
The U17 Lady Griffins are also great examples of what’s possible. Their program started from scratch around 6 years ago, they lost all but one game in their first season, and now they’re winning provincial tournaments.
Competitive play is just one avenue – there are also opportunities in house league and introductory lacrosse programming.
Many of the U17 Lady Griffins are now helping out with those grassroots programs, eager to give back and show newcomers the ropes.
“I love teaching young players,” signals Annika Lafreniere, also an Ottawa Lady 67’s hockey player in winter. “Lacrosse is such a fun sport, and I would love to see more girls playing.”
Before COVID hit, the Gloucester Lacrosse Association held girls’ sessions one after the other, starting from the youngest age group up to the oldest.
“It is nice to see the groups bump up against the next group coming in,” reflects GLA President Stephanie Pagan. “You get a real feeling of cohesion, and you know there’s a connection to the next level. In this way, the younger girls are given an opportunity to look up to the next group of older girls and see the opportunities that lay before them.”
GLA Girls Program Director Colette Caines says it was especially powerful to see members of the U17 team helping the new players and demonstrating different skills.
“It was such a great environment, and helped us create some great momentum that we want to get back now,” Caines adds. “The girls on this team really are exceptional ambassadors for the GLA.”
The Gloucester Lacrosse Association (GLA) is offering programming throughout the summer so that anybody new to the sport can come and play lacrosse. Visit gloucester-lacrosse.com for more information.