Welcome from Poland: Team USA Aims to Leave Mark at World Games

PHOTO BY MIKE WALLIN

Team USA touched down in Poland to participate in the World Games, the first multi-sport event for lacrosse.


WROCLAW, Poland – A Russian water skier and a Maryland-North Carolina lacrosse photo. Archers from all over the world and recently crowned Germany fistball gold medalists.

Four seemingly unusual pairings from four distinctively different sports all stand in one place, creating an Olympic-like setting for the biggest sporting event in Poland.  

The city of Wroclaw welcomes the world, and today, the U.S. women’s national team stepped into the future, joining thousands of other world-class athletes from 111 nations competing in 218 medal events at the IWGA World Games, which culminates on July 30.

[GUIDE TO THE WORLD GAMES]

Touching down in Wroclaw, Team USA began to realize the scale of this event and the opportunity presented to themselves, as well as the five other nations selected to represent the sport of lacrosse – Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Japan and Poland.

With the ultimate goal to reach to the Olympics, the World Games marks the first time lacrosse has participated in a multi-sport international event.

“It’s a great opportunity for lacrosse to be seen in international competition with multiple other sports,” said U.S. head coach Ricky Fried, whose team is coming off its eighth gold-medal performance at the Federation of International Lacrosse Women’s World Cup. “We’re excited to show off our sport as a whole and have the Olympic committee evaluate what our sport looks like and the possibilities going forward."







U.S. defender Kristen Carr, a 2010 graduate of North Carolina and now two-time gold medalist, has witnessed the growth of the sport firsthand, playing in two different semi-professional leagues. First, she played soccer with the Chesapeake Charge in 2010, when there were no post-collegiate, professional opportunities for lacrosse. Then, last summer, she competed with the Baltimore Ride in the inaugural United Women’s Lacrosse League. Now, Carr is one of several lacrosse players leading the sport into the future, playing in its first World Games.

“It’s just cool to see the landscape of the sport grow,” Carr said. “We’re in Poland and there’s a picture of my alma mater against one of our huge rivals on the wall [at Wroclaw Airport] and it makes it seem more real, and to have other athletes on our flight, it’s just cool. This is the first time lacrosse has had the opportunity to do this and I think we all want to make sure we leave our mark and make a statement while we’re here.”

Team USA will be diving into a setting much like the Olympic village, where nations will “cross cultures and cross athletics,” said Fried. His team aims “to have a total experience, not just a lacrosse experience” and ensure what is displayed on the field becomes known as an “exciting spectator sport.”

“We want to make sure that what people see is an exciting brand of our sport, so that it’s something that people are talking about and it’s something that gets people excited about and say, ‘I want to see that again,’” Fried said.

According to Carr, it’s about putting on a show that will ultimately allow the sport to attain Olympic recognition.  

“It’s a really extraordinary opportunity,” Carr said. “There’s been so much talk about what’s going to help make the sport grow and this is obviously that next step. Coming off the gold medal is surreal and a dream come true, but to get this sport to that next level internationally, I think it’s awesome. We get the chance to showcase our ability to potentially make it into the Olympics and compete on a bigger scale, which will be so awesome for the future of the sport.”

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