U.S. Women Receive Star Treatment, Give Back at IWLCA Presidents Cup


Ally Carey’s time with the U.S. women’s national team has taken her to Germany, Canada, England and Poland, along with many stops inside the United States. The former Vanderbilt star has won three gold medals as a part of U.S. U19 and senior teams, but none of that had her fully prepared for the reaction the USA players received during the IWLCA Presidents Cup in Florida in November.

One of the IWLCA’s signature recruiting events, the Presidents Cup attracted nearly 400 teams and more than 6,000 high school lacrosse players to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort. It was the perfect audience and stage for the world’s best players.

“Every time someone went behind-the-back and around-the-world, you could hear the crowd roar,” Carey said. “That’s something I hadn’t really ever experienced. That might have been the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of.”

Defender Kristen Carr summed up the atmosphere in one word — “electric.”

Head coach Jenny Levy envisioned the Presidents Cup as a great opportunity to showcase the national team program, and the night delivered on her vision. The U.S. team played three games — an intra-squad game and 6v6 exhibitions against select teams from the United Women’s Lacrosse League and the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League — before overflow crowds and admiring young players. 

“What pushed this over the edge is the amount of kids and parents and all the fans that have come out to watch the U.S. team play over the past three hours,” Levy said after the games. “We’re in Disney, so I’m going to call it magical.”

“What was really neat was the different waves of club teams, college coaches and supporters of lacrosse that kept coming,” Carr said. “It was exciting to feel.”

That was the capstone to a jam-packed two days at Disney where the team practiced and roamed the complex just like their admirers.

“This one girl was tearing up because Marie McCool was coming towards her,” Carey said. “Poor Taylor Cummings couldn’t go get dinner because everyone was stopping her for pictures. Everybody had Kylie Ohlmiller eye black on.”

Carr saw the same thing, with a girl welling up as she met U.S. newcomer Sam Apuzzo in the autograph line.

“It’s moments like that when you realize how big of an influence you have on this game,” Carr said. “It’s never neutral.”

A great idea by Levy that deepened the connection was having the U.S. players serve as guest coaches during an hour block of the regular club team games on Saturday morning.

“That got us into the thick of everything,” Carey said. 

Both Carey and Carr did some teaching, but got to know some of the personal stories and challenges of the younger players.

“It was one of my favorite parts of the entire weekend,” Carr said. “You got to put yourself a little bit in their shoes. I know we were supposed to inspire them, but I left super inspired.”

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