For players involved in the U.S. national team program, getting together is always a special time. Unlike their high school and college days, when they get to spend every day with their teammates, training weekends are a rare chance to come together for an extended period of time.
The upcoming U.S. women’s team tryouts are even more special this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been 18 months since the team last gathered together — at the IWLCA President’s Cup in Florida in November 2019 to be exact.
“This is the longest I’ve ever not played a game or even practiced,” said defender Megan Douty. “I’m jealous of the college girls who have played and even the ones coaching.”
“I’ll probably get some butterflies,” said goalie Caylee Waters. “It still feels so weird, how long it’s been. Over 18 months — I don’t know if I’ve ever gone that long not playing lacrosse in my entire life.”
Head coach Jenny Levy and her staff will welcome over 60 of the nation’s top players to a three-day tryout from June 9-11 at USA Lacrosse headquarters in Sparks, Md. The tryouts are closed to the public, but Lax Sports Network will air a live one-hour look at the tryouts on Thursday, June 10 beginning at 6 p.m. entitled “Inside the Huddle: Behind the Dream to Gold.”
The livestream will be hosted by former national team players Sheehan Stanwick Burch and Kristen Kjellman Marshall. Burch and Marshall will interview coaches and players during the session and provide an up-close look at the tryouts from field level.
The livestream is part of a dedicated fundraising effort to help support the national team program and its dual role of competing at the highest level while providing inspiration to the next generation of players. A $50,000 matching gift has been donated by a USA Lacrosse Foundation board member, allowing all donations to be doubled. You can support the team at www.usalacrosse.com/behindthedream
For Douty, an All-World selection after helping the U.S. win the 2017 world championship, this week’s tryout is something she won’t take for granted.
“I miss the girls to be honest,” Douty said. “Normally we see each other every few months. The U.S. program pulls us all together — the bonding we have over dinners. I have so much fun. I never laugh as much as I do when I’m with them. That’s what I’m thinking about, not the stress or pressure of a tryout.”
The tryout is the next step in selecting the final 18 players that will represent the U.S. at the 2022 World Lacrosse Women’s World Championship, which will be hosted by USA Lacrosse at Towson University form June 29 to July 9, 2022. A record 30 nations will compete for the world championship.
Douty knows all about representing her country at the highest level. In addition to the 2017 World Cup, Douty helped the U.S. win the first ever lacrosse gold medal at The World Games later that summer in Poland.
She’s active in the sport with her club and training business through All Lax and her players often make the trek to see her represent her country when she gets to compete. Through the expansion of the U.S. program, particularly through the National Team Development Program, Douty sees the chance for even more players to chase the dream.
“As a veteran and with these other players I’m looking to grow this sport and inspire the younger players,” Douty said. “I had no idea what was out there. I played for my rec program and I played for my high school. With the marketing and promotion of the U.S. development system, it’s going to help so many players that have a desire to reach this level.”
Douty and her teammates will help share a little bit of that opportunity this week. A week they’ve been waiting over 18 months to finally arrive.
Matt DaSilva contributed to this article.