The World's Best Lacrosse Moms


Laura Warren fell stick over cleats for lacrosse the moment she learned about the game in primary school in Wales in 1990. She went on to play for Maryland and made the Wales national team.

But in 2013, Warren was ready to hang up her jersey.

Less than four months removed from having her first son, Louis, Warren rushed back to the field for a U.S. tour ahead of the 2013 world championship. Juggling diaper changes, feedings, mom guilt and the demands of playing against the best lacrosse players in the world caused her to lose more sleep.

And as anyone who has gone through the demands of parenting an infant knows, it’s not like she was getting much sleep to begin with.

“My mind was constantly worrying about my little child,” Warren said. “I was just showing up to the pitch. It was 50-percent lacrosse, 50-percent mom, and I struggled with that.”

Warren’s coaches and teammates tried to support her the best they could, but none were mothers. Louis’ father was a different story.

“I didn’t have a supportive partner at the time,” Warren said. “I was getting a lot of guilt and stress put on me from playing. I felt the February tour was exhausting. I kept listening to the voices of the people telling me to stop.”

Initially, those negative voices won out. Warren quit. But other voices were more persistent. Her teammate, Lloyd Rout, and coach, Raj Rout (Lloyd’s husband), kept nagging her. They wanted her on the team for the 2013 world championship.

Warren ultimately listened to them, helping Wales to a sixth-place finish. After having her second child, Toby, in 2015, she didn’t think twice about playing in the event in 2017.

Now a single mother preparing for her sixth world championship, Warren, 40, hopes to be a voice and ear for other parents. She’s no longer the only mom on the team, and she’s also linked up with parents from other squads.

“It’s nice of them to have me to come and talk to them because I’ve experienced it,” said Warren, whose most recent comeback includes rehabbing from a torn ACL she suffered in the 2019 European Championships. “I can tell if they are struggling. I know what their energy is going to be like. I know they are worried about handing over their little kid to someone. I can help them.”

One of those players is Laura Merrifield, a captain and midfielder for England. In January 2020, Merrifield gave birth to a daughter, Riley, joining the sisterhood of motherhood. Warren’s support has been invaluable.

“She was like, ‘If you still love your sport and enjoy it, you can make it work,’” Merrifield said. “That was really powerful to me.”

Powerful, in part, because Merrifield, who also starred at Maryland, didn’t bounce back immediately. It was a surprise to her — she had never struggled so much at the sport. It took her nine months to feel like herself again on the field, and she hopes her story helps other mothers understand that the immediate bounce-back narrative that often lands headlines and social media is a myth for many.

“I think we need to talk about it a bit more,” Merrifield said. “Some people are able to come back and smash it. It took me longer, and that’s OK.”

Sweden attacker Natalie Aranda can relate. She had her first, Iris, in 2017 and second, Elise, in 2020. After Iris was born, she played through pelvic girdle pain that did not resolve until early this year. It forced her to adjust her game.

“Before I had my kids…my strength was that I was fast,” Aranda said. “I ran a lot. I remember my coach saying, ‘What if your head was as fast as your legs?’ Playing but not being able to sprint has made me a smarter player. Now, my legs and head are equally as fast.”

Aranda considers it her new superpower.

“I prefer this kind of lacrosse player that I am now,” Aranda said. “It’s more fun to be a bit smarter and not just try to run past everybody, and I think I can contribute more to my team now by making other players play well.”

Adjustments are par for the course for new parents, who go from having the flexibility to stay late at practice or add in a strength workout to having a tiny human rely on them for everything.

“Your priorities [change],” Merrifield said. “They are your No. 1.”

For Merrifield, that has meant training at night so she can bond with Riley in the morning. Warren has found talking about the mental struggle has helped her balance motherhood and lacrosse.

“I’ll tell my teammates if I am missing my kids,” Warren said. “When I had Louis, and he was eight months old, I may not have done that, but now I will speak up if something is worrying me.”

Aranda says women often face more questions and pressure when it comes to balancing kids and athletics. But in her home, gender roles don’t exist, partly because of the Swedish parental leave policy. Whereas the U.S. doesn’t have federally mandated leave, Sweden gives new parents 480 days of leave (or 240 days for each parent if there are two). That has meant everything to Aranda in the build-up to this year’s world championship, and she advises other new moms to raise their expectations of their partners.

“Make your partner do his or her part of the job,” Aranda said. “They’ll get a happier and more interesting wife — someone who comes home after games and practices with energy. It’s really important in relationships to have your own interests and take time to yourself to do things you really like.”

Warren hasn’t gotten the same support. But she hopes that by continuing to play lacrosse, she shows her sons the importance of advocating for their own needs — and, perhaps someday, they’ll be better partners and co-parents.

“I am one of the happiest people you’ll ever meet, and I am certain it’s because I am doing what I love,” Warren said. “I want them to know you should never stop doing what you enjoy. If you are a happy mommy, you are a better mom.”


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