More than a Medal: U.S. Women Set Sights on World Championship Opportunity

PHOTO BY MASON PERRICONE


The members of the U.S. women’s national team had just finished breaking open a box of freeze pops when Dottie Hayden approached the crowd sitting at midfield at USA Lacrosse headquarters.

Hayden, a member of the undefeated 1975 U.S. women’s training team and a 2005 Hall of Fame inductee, wanted to drop off a letter written by the team that helped kickstart the women’s national team program and offer a few words to the newest installment of a sisterhood that has spanned almost 50 years.

“This moment you have right now is wonderful,” she said. “But it extends far beyond these two weeks.”

In a short speech littered with humor and encouragement, Hayden detailed the 1975 team’s lifelong friendship — the Zoom calls during COVID, the reunion trips and the drive for success they’ve shared over decades. 

Hayden made sure to draw the comparisons between the two teams, both founded with unique chemistry and fighting for something beyond themselves.

Back in 1975, Hayden and her team fought for the legitimacy of women’s lacrosse, both at home and abroad. Some 47 years later, this version of the U.S. women’s national team is looking to take the sport to the next level.

The mission for Jenny Levy’s team was clear before they met Hayden, but her speech put the task at hand in perspective.

“When the 1975 team reached out to me and said ‘Hey, we just wanted to let you know how many similarities with this team and what we represent and what our team represented,’” Levy said. “It’s been 47 years. How crazy is that? They see similarities with this team from what their team represented in that era.”

Levy echoed the same themes in the team’s opening meeting on Saturday afternoon in Sparks Md.. kicking off a four-day training camp before the World Lacrosse Women’s Championship. As much as her eyes are focused on a gold medal, she made sure her team knew that this 10-day campaign represents far more — in light of the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the fight for women’s rights across the country.

“It’s awesome to be able to play for something bigger,” she told the team. “But what is the legacy after your playing career us over? What are you leaving in the game? What are you doing to the people that you touch when you play? We are where we are today because of all the previous groups that have come to us and they’re still spreading through us.”

The similarities between teams that played half a century apart are endless. However, the group of 18 women that moved into the dorms at Towson University on Tuesday afternoon represents the strides that women’s lacrosse has made, particularly in the last few years.

On this team are professional lacrosse players with years of experience, recent NCAA champions and the reigning two-time Tewaaraton winner. There are veterans of the world championship process, like Cummings, Kayla Treanor, Marie McCool, Alice Mercer, Becca Clock and Meg Douty. Another world championship getting underway is a chance to reflect on the progress made over the past five years.

Cummings, once a recent college grad in 2017, is now one of the vocal leaders for the U.S. women.

“The last time I was a newbie and now I’m a vet,” she said. “Seeing the personalities on this team mesh on and off the field is exciting. The culture is the same, but we have new people adding their flavor to what we do.”

There are newcomers like Molly Hendrick and Liz Hogan, years away from their college careers but relishing in a chance to play at the sport’s highest level. For Hogan, making the U.S. women’s national team after three near misses was a pivotal moment in her career.







However, stepping onto the field at Johnny Unitas turned a vision into a reality.

“It’s all coming full circle,” she said. “The hard work has been put in. Everyone around us has done the job, so now it’s almost relief and excitement to be there and know you have the best players around you.”

The move-in process at Carroll Hall on the campus of Towson University took a good two hours, with multiple runs to Target and Sam’s Club. Alice Mercer delivered snacks to each room on the floor. Molly Hendrick, Lizzie Colson and Emily Parros invited teammates to come to their room, which boasted a panoramic view of the common grounds below. Red, white and blue decorations went up on the walls of each quad.

Less than 24 hours before the U.S. national team’s matchup with Canada to open the world championship, players were making memories that they’ll hold for a lifetime. A team that met on Zoom monthly throughout the pandemic now gets 10 straight days to continue building team chemistry.

“I love this game but I love the people I compete with every day,” Cummings said. “When that’s done, I know those friendships will last a lifetime. You won’t always remember scores and stats, but you’ll have people in your corner forever.”

The experiences of the last few days had Cummings and Hogan thinking about where they’ll be 47 years from now — and whether they will share similarities with the future U.S. national teams.

“I’m picturing Caylee [Waters] leading the Zoom call,” Cummings said. “She’ll be a crazy grandma.”

“She’s going to be leading us through some crazy yoga,” Hogan said. “She’ll be that person. She’s our hypewoman.”

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