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Truus van Wees was on the USA Select U16 team in 2021 and 2022.

Truus van Wees’ Toughness Shaped By Her Brothers

October 5, 2023
Beth Ann Mayer

​Truus van Wees’ brothers never took it easy on her — they still don’t. She’s grateful.

The youngest of four children and the only girl, some of Truus van Wees’ earliest memories involve serving as the guinea pig for her brothers’ backyard sports games.

“They made a rink in the backyard, and they just put me in net when I was 3,” van Wees said. “I was always the trial kid, and they definitely did not take it easy on me — ever.”

It worked out well for van Wees, who attended USA U16/17 Player Development Camps for USA Hockey in 2021. Though she doesn’t remember her brothers—  Matteo, 24; Simon, 22; and Kees, 21 — doing anything similar with lacrosse, van Wees credits them for turning her into the multi-sport star she is today.

“Anything that my brothers were doing was what I wanted to do, too,” van Wees said.

The women’s game wasn’t on TV as much as it is now, and streamed games were largely behind a paywall. Van Wees didn’t have a women’s lacrosse idol to look up to — just her brothers. So, when they picked up lacrosse sticks, she did too, around the age of 4 or 5. Next fall, van Wees will follow in Kees’ footsteps and head to Ann Arbor as a member of the Michigan women’s team. (Kees will be a senior on the men’s team when she gets there.)

But this year, van Wees will once again don the red, white and blue — this time for lacrosse, not hockey, as a member of the U18 Select Team. It’s not her first rodeo with USA Lacrosse. Van Wees’ journey with the development program began in 2021, after a year of pandemic-related standstills. She saw an ad to try out at the National Team Development Program combine, and her mom encouraged her to go for it. She didn’t enter with high expectations.

“No matter what the results were, I was just happy that I made it there,” van Wees said.

Van Wees didn’t just make it to the combine. She made the U16 team in 2021 and again in 2022. This year, van Wees is a member of the U18 team. Though she’s worn the stars and stripes in multiple sports, seeing “USA” on the front of a jersey hasn’t gotten old.

“It’s an honor and really special,” van Wees said. “I’m lucky to have this opportunity. It’s much more than that, representing the country as a whole and not just myself on and off the field.”

But the biggest draw has been the relationships. Though development teammates don’t see each other in cafeterias and quads every day like they do in high school or college, friendships have been forged organically, even among usual foes.

“We all have a common love of lacrosse,” van Wees. “You see these girls throughout the summer at tournaments and camps. It really brings us together, even if they are on a rival club or high school team.”

Though none of her teammates on this year’s U18 team will be joining her at Michigan next year, van Wees says she’s most looking forward to making memories with them this year and reminiscing postgame next. She also hopes to lead by example at this year’s Fall Classic, Oct. 13-15 at USA Lacrosse Headquarters in Sparks, Md.

“I’m excited about being a leader and showing U16 what it means to respect who were are playing for and the other team,” van Wees said.

But van Wees is bringing a different perspective to Sparks this fall. As a high school senior nearing the end of her field hockey career this fall, she’s taking in the experience fully aware that nothing lasts forever.

“My senior year, lacrosse or not, I am learning to make the best of every moment,” van Wees said. “You never know if this is going to be your last time on Team USA or this school so it helps.”

But van Wees hopes it’s not the end of her time with the U.S. Playing for the U20 team and one day donning the jersey for the senior team are all on her radar.

“It’s a goal of mine,” she said. “I’m taking it step by step and using [those goals] as motivation for today, each month, each year. It would be very cool to take it to the next level.”

Her brothers? They still probably won’t take it easy on her. They certainly haven’t during field hockey season.

“My brother just texted me about field hockey, but he’s probably said it about lacrosse, that he saw my stats and saw I had more goals than assists,” van Wees said. “He said, ‘Good job, but you need more assists than goals next time.’”

Just like she plans to take in the USA experience, van Wees remains a sponge in family affairs.

“They still push me to be a better player,” van Wees said.