Players Sound Off on First Co-Ed Scrimmage in U.S. National Team History


SPARKS, Md. — The women of the U.S. Sixes national team darted up and down Tierney Field on Wednesday morning, picking off passes, sprinting in transition, sending parabolic outlets across the small-sided field. 

Just 10 feet off the sidelines of the newly designed Sixes field, Colin Heacock and the men of the U.S. Sixes national team clanged the benches with their sticks, waiting for their turn to take the field. 

“Let’s go, White!” Heacock yelled. 

“Way to put it where Momma hides the cookies,” he said later after a top-shelf goal from Ally Kennedy. 

When it came time for the men to take another turn — an eight-minute period as part of a dual men’s and women’s Sixes scrimmage to cap training camp — the women returned the favor with chants of “Let’s go, Blueberries!” a nod to Team Blue. 

Throughout the roughly hour long bit of gameplay, the men and women of the U.S. Sixes teams walked on and off the field hi-fiving and offering words of encouragement. Wednesday morning marked the first time the nationals teams took the field at the same time, part of the three-day training camp that included multiple training sessions and a Blue-White exhibition on Tuesday at USA Lacrosse Youth Nationals in Frederica, Del. 

As the game heated up, whispers circled around the field at USA Lacrosse headquarters. The consensus among the nearly 50 players in attendance was that they wanted to try a co-ed version of Sixes. 

Coach Andy Shay huddle the teams together and told them they’d switch sticks and play an eight-minute co-ed final quarter. Chaos ensued. 

“Are you serious?” Heacock said.  

“Oh yeah, this is going to be awesome,” Dempsey Arsenault said.

Molly Little traded sticks with Jake Richard. Olivia Dirks swapped with Brian Tevlin. 

“Oh, this is nice,” Tevlin joked while trying to adjust the pocket to no avail. 

After five minutes of warmups and a sloppy first few sequences, the game settled into a competitive flow. World Lacrosse’s Sixes format was created as a game that could be played similarly by both men and women, and Wednesday’s scrimmage was an illustration of the potential of this discipline to reach a broader audience. 

With Team White leading 17-16 and just seconds remaining, Team Blue’s Madison Doucette sent a long pass toward Ryan Drenner. Team White’s Marge Donovan sprinted across the field, extending her men’s stick and snagging the ball out of midair to effectively end the game.  

Heacock and Mark Glicini rushed the field to congratulate Donovan. 

“Caylee [Waters] hustled to sub out in transition so I could sub in and make a read on the goalie,” Donovan said. “It was an awesome feeling making that play for my team at the end.” 

Waters was in a position to sub because she had swapped her goalie stick for a field one, trying something new on the final day of training. Within 10 seconds, Waters was out of the goal, helmet off and ready to play. 

“I’m always looking for opportunities to do that,” she said. “I came off the field and someone said, ‘Why don’t you go try the field?’ and I was like, ‘What? There are other people, I don’t feel like running.’ Then I said, ‘Why not?’ I got a few reps in, but I’m still more comfortable in the cage.” 

Switching sticks required plenty of adjustments, both on the men’s and women’s players. Still, the teams went back-and-forth connecting on passes and developing a greater appreciation for each other’s games. 

Heacock certainly came away with respect for the handles of the U.S. women’s team. 

“There was one point I got the ball and I was going to step down and shoot it, but then I remembered I had a girls’ stick, so I got real awkward and just tried to swing it down to the ground,” he joked. “I didn’t want to hit a car in the road or anything. Super respect to them for using those sticks.” 

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