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| May 27, 2022

Getting Started in Stripes: From Player to Official

By Paul Ohanian | Photo courtesy of Lily Kennedy

Until last year, being a lacrosse player had always been part of Lily Kennedy’s identity. And she didn’t mind that one bit because she truly loves the game.

But after years of club lacrosse, high school success, and a four-year Division I varsity career at UMBC, the end arrived. Kennedy, a team captain, completed her senior season for the Retrievers in 2021. 

“After graduating from college last year, I lost my identity of being an athlete and I missed being around the lacrosse community,” Kennedy said. 

Fortunately, she had already discovered a new side of the game and a new lacrosse identity to fill the void - officiating. 

Two years earlier, at the suggestion of a college friend, Kennedy had signed on for the College Player Officials Academy (CPOA), a joint venture between USA Lacrosse and the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) that’s designed to train the next generation of women’s game officials.

Kennedy attended a two-day clinic at USA Lacrosse headquarters, getting both classroom instruction and on-the-field training. She started working summer youth tournaments almost immediately afterwards.

“The training that I received from USA Lacrosse provided me with the extensive knowledge needed to be successful on and off the field,” Kennedy said. “Not only did they teach me correct body mechanics and positioning on the field, but I also learned interpersonal skills that helped me handle difficult coach and parent interactions.”

More than the training and instruction, the clinic also opened another important door for Kennedy.

“Officiating lacrosse gave me back my connection to the amazing coaches, parents, players, and other officials that are involved in the lacrosse world,” she said.

College players hoping to follow a similar path as Kennedy’s into the world of officiating have three opportunities in June to get the same introductory training. Clinic spots remain available for June 11-12 in Winston Salem, N.C.; June 17-19 in Boyds, Md.; and June 25-26 in Amherst, Mass. Candidates are only required to attend one of the CPOA events.

Get More Details and Register Online

After attending the in-person academy, candidates who complete the rules and penalties online courses, the annual exam, and a professional development course will become USA Lacrosse Level 1 Certified women’s lacrosse officials. 

“Officiating combines my three favorite things -- lacrosse, running, and being in the sunshine,” Kennedy said. “The fact that I get paid to do three things that I love makes me feel so blessed that I have been given this opportunity.”

The money is also quite helpful as Kennedy, from Marriottsville, Md., navigates the next phase of her life. Now a Level 2 certified official and a member of several officiating boards, she works as many games as her schedule will allow. 

“One of the main reasons I love being an official is because I am still able to go to school full-time (pursuing her doctorate degree) while also working,” Kennedy said. “The money I make from working games allows me to pay for my schooling and it is such a phenomenal side hustle.”

The transition to officiating has helped Kennedy, 23, forge a new path in lacrosse while keeping many of the same connections that drew her to the game initially.

“I have met so many amazing people,” she said. “Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have had this experience of becoming an official. I tell all my friends they should do it too.”