TRURO – It’s been six years since the female lacrosse program has started in Truro, and the progress is starting to show
This summer, six local Bearcats juniors will don the blue, white and yellow for their province at the Canadian Lacrosse Association nationals in Whitby, Ont.
The Truro contingent – Shannon MacKenzie, Daina MacEachern, Molly Wood, Cassidy Gallagher, Natalie Cudmore and Catherine Delaney – will take to the floor Aug. 6 to face off against the best in the country.
“We’re going to go in with an underdog attitude,” MacKenzie said. “There’s a lot of great competition there.”
It will be MacKenzie’s first time at nationals, while others, like MacEachern and Wood have been there before.
In a province without a long-established program, it’s tough to compete with the bigger provinces, MacEachern said. They’ve found themselves on the wrong side of a few lopsided games against Ontario in the past.
“But honestly, we learn so much from playing against them,” she said. “We take a lot back to our leagues from that.”
Six years ago, MacEachern was one of the first girls to play the game. Recruiting people was tough, since nobody had any experience.
“The first year was mind-boggling. We knew nothing,” she said. “Where we’ve developed from there is incredible.”
“It took a few years after we started to really learn how to play,” MacKenzie said.
Still, it quickly became a favourite pastime for the girls.
“It’s the thing after work you really look forward to,” MacKenzie said. “It’s physical activity but it’s also using your brain.”
After attending provincial tryouts, the girls were introduced to the game at a whole different level. Rather than focusing on basic skills, they were learning strategy and technique.
“It’s great to see it from a different perspective,” MacEachen said. “You spend the first few years learning catching and passing. It’s nice to get past that and learn the rules, or how to set a pick, or how to set plays.”
To get ready for nationals, the girls are playing a series of exhibition games against boys’ teams. Since nationals includes body contact, playing against the boys is important.
“They don’t take it easy on us, and we don’t go easy on them,” Wood said. “We have to get used to it. There’s going to be some big girls at nationals.”
This weekend, the girls will faceoff against the North American Indigenous Games under-19 men’s team, which features 10 players from Millbrook First Nation.
“We’re excited to play them for sure,” MacEachern said. “It’s going to be competitive – really competitive.”
The game will get underway Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Colchester Legion Stadium. Admission is free.