World Lacrosse Women's Championship Opening Ceremonies Showcase Growth


TOWSON, Md. — Finally.

Dana Dobbie turned and scanned the field. This time, it wasn’t to find a teammate for a pass. Standing in front of a sea of color, an array of languages, cultures and backgrounds, Dobbie addressed a diverse crowd during the opening ceremony of the World Lacrosse Women’s Championship.

“Finally,” Dobbie said, turning to face the record 29 nations represented at Towson University’s Johnny Unitas Stadium, all of which waited anxiously for this 2022 world championship after it was delayed one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2005, the last time this event was on U.S. soil, there were 10 teams. In less than two decades, that number has essentially tripled. Over 500 athletes sauntered onto the turf Wednesday afternoon. Some wore traditional garb. Others sang songs. A few more danced.

It was a fitting cultural showcase for an event that will feature over 100 games in the next 11 days. With six games on ESPN linear and every game available on ESPN digital platforms, there will be over 7,000 minutes of lacrosse on ESPN in the next week-and-a-half.

Talk about a grand display of the exponential growth of women’s lacrosse.

“Thank you all for being part of the lacrosse family,” World Lacrosse president Sue Redfern said as she addressed the fans and players.

While not newcomers to the lacrosse family, four new teams are set to compete in their first world championship. Uganda was set to be a fifth new team, but the nation was unable to attend due to visa procurement issues, World Lacrosse announced Wednesday. Head coach Colin McSharar and others from Uganda were announced during opening ceremonies to a raucous applause and a show of support from the 29 other teams.

The other first-time participants — Argentina, Jamaica, Norway and Puerto Rico — basked in the bright Towson sun. Puerto Rico players are living a dream.

“For us, it’s been a dream come true,” said team captain Monica Negron, a defender. “When we were little, there was never an opportunity to play for Puerto Rico. Now, being able to play for our family and our culture, being able to show off our attire to the world, that’s us living out our dream.”

Outside of the host United States, there wasn’t a louder fan contingent than that of the Puerto Ricans. Decked in traditional “Bomba” dresses, the 20 women representing Puerto Rico were introduced in what became an emotional moment.

“It’s an absolutely breathtaking environment,” said captain Kristina Clayton, an attacker. “Being able to be with the different countries and spend time with them, get to know them and really understand their culture, it helps us become a unit and grow the game together. It’s overwhelming, but in the most wonderful sense, to see that this game has grown worldwide.”

Puerto Rico head coach Natalie Bermudez knows that this is the grandest stage her team has ever played on. It’s her third event with the team, but the first world championship. With that comes nerves. But it also comes with opportunity.

“On an individual level, I want this to be the stage for every girl to play as free as they can and as comfortable as they can,” Bermudez said. “I just want them to showcase who they are.

“The wins will come. When we’re playing our game, we’re going to do well.”

The world championship is as much about on-field play as it is the exchange of values across cultures. That’s where that individuality comes into play. With women’s lacrosse at an all-time high (and still growing), displaying the many styles with which the game can be played will only attract new audiences.

The Puerto Rico contingent has only grown stronger since Puerto Rico Lacrosse, the national governing body, was founded in 2015.

“We are proud to be Puerto Rican, and you can tell by our fan section that we are loud,” Negron said. “When we show up, we want to be known. It’s part of our culture.”

“That’s the Boricua way,” Clayton added.


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