DALLAS — As soon as the horn sounded by the bench-side speakers at Field 2 of the Harold Patterson Sports Complex — and Team White gathered to celebrate a well-earned victory in Saturday’s Blue-White scrimmage — the focus shifted from a hard-fought back-and-forth game toward a meet-and-greet the likes of which the U.S. women’s national team had never seen.
After the members of the U.S. women’s training team broke down with a chant of “U-S-A,” they headed in separate lines on opposite sides of the field, high-fiving the approximately 2,000 fans that lined the outer edges of the grass field. As the procession continued, the mass of fans inched closer to the players they idolized.
Then, one of the most unique experiences for a women’s national team unfolded.
Fans swarmed Team White and they began to sing “Happy Birthday” to teammate Kayla Treanor, who turned 28 on Saturday. Marie McCool borrowed a sign that read “Happy Birthday Kayla Treanor” in Syracuse orange and blue and held it high as the rest of the team lifted a reluctant Treanor in the air.
“They know I don’t really like that stuff, so they put me on the spot,” she joked.
Seconds later, eager fans formed a massive circle around Charlotte North, the Texas native and Boston College superstar who has captured the attention of the lacrosse world. She signed t-shirts and balls and took more selfies than she scored goals during the 2021 college season.
In a 30-minute span, Kenzie Kent briefly lost her phone (Treanor had it), a group of fans found a still-packaged Colgate toothbrush, thousands of autographs were signed and fans left with memories and photos they’ll hold on to for a long time.
“When I was going around meeting the girls and signing autographs, I was asking them where they were from,” McCool said. “I heard a lot of non-traditional places — I met some girls from St. Louis, California, Minnesota, Colorado, Alabama. It’s awesome that they’re all able to be in the same place and able to watch players they look up to.”
Saturday night’s Blue-White exhibition, which saw Team White win 17-6 thanks to six goals from Treanor in a 60-minute, running clock international matchup, brought together the women’s lacrosse community at the IWLCA Presidents Cup in Arlington, Texas — far from a lacrosse hotbed.
Lacrosse players and fans from across the country gathered to watch the highest-profile women’s lacrosse team in the world. U.S. national team members who grew up idolizing the greats of the mid-2010s became the role models providing a spectacle years in the making and unprecedented in the Lonestar State.
Coach Jenny Levy gathered the U.S. training team in the conference room of the team’s hotel following the exhibition and ensuing fan frenzy, reiterating the importance of a moment that they had just shared.
“Don’t minimize that you got to be a part of the moment tonight,” she said. “Take a second to realize that you guys are role models and what you put out of the field tonight is awesome. It was such a cool experience to be part of that.”
Levy’s three keys to the weekend, which she shared with her team during Friday morning’s practice, set the tone for an energetic and intense two days — Purpose. Place. People.
The purpose for this national team? To inspire a new generation of women’s lacrosse players across the country.
The place? The first time the U.S. women’s team has made the trip to Texas.
The people? A group of talented women driven to represent their country at next year’s World Lacrosse Women’s World Championship in Towson, Md. next summer. As much as making the 18-player cut — the “500-pound elephant” as assistant coach Joe Spallina labeled it — was on the minds of the members of this training camp, they were humbled by the outpouring of support displayed on Saturday night.
A chill wind blew through Harold Patterson Sports Complex on Friday morning as Levy addressed her team for the first time in Arlington, Texas. After a few pleasantries, Levy smiled as she directed her attention to one of two Texas natives on the U.S. training team.
“Charlotte, what’s the average temperature down here in November?” she said.
“Like 65 degrees or so,” North answered quickly.
A cold front was passing through the Dallas area, but Levy wanted to confirm that mid-50-degree temperatures on Friday were unseasonably cold. North, the Boston College phenom had plenty of experience from which to draw.
The Episcopal School of Dallas graduate first picked up a stick just 30 minutes from where the U.S. training team competed this weekend. Lindsey McKone, the Bellaire, Texas native, started playing lacrosse as a means to keep her in shape for soccer just over three hours southwest.
Both training team members were grateful for the opportunity to play in front of a hometown crowd, and pleased to see the progress their home state has made since they frequently traveled to the East Coast to find club tournaments. They were used to making trips back home during the offseason, but now it was time for the lacrosse community to make the same voyage.
“I didn’t believe it at first,” North said of when she first heard that the training team was headed to Presidents Cup. I thought about everyone flying in from around the country. I was like ‘Wow, people are going to do that flight that we are so used to.’ We fly all over the place to play collegiately and nationally. We go so many places, but I never thought one would be my literal backyard. It’s time that people see how much talent is in Texas.”
“It was like ‘Welcome to our world’ of traveling to tournaments,” McKone said. “It just shows how much the sport has grown. For the entire Presidents Cup to be in Texas is more proof that there are more places are excelling in lacrosse across the country.”
This weekend has helped North and McKone come full circle in the sport of lacrosse. Just a handful of years ago, they stood at the draw circle in the Texas state championship games in both 2015 and 2016 — both games in which McKone’s St. Mark’s team took home the title, part of four straight championships.
“I got my own when she left,” North joked, referencing her 2017 state title after McKone had left for Northwestern.
From answering questions like ‘Do you ride horses to school?’ or ‘Is everything actually bigger in Texas?’ North and McKone felt pride in representing the Lonestar State and informing their college teammates about home.
“Everyone is so fascinated by Texas. They’re shocked by how big it is,” McKone said.
This weekend, two of the most high-profile lacrosse players to come out of the state of Texas got to showcase their schools not far from where they first developed them — something they never thought possible.
Not to mention, the team hotel was just a short walk from AT&T Stadium, home of North’s favorite Dallas Cowboys. The U.S. training team will tour the stadium on Sunday morning.
“The coolest part of being in this hotel is seeing Cowboys Stadium outside our window,” she said. “It was like 30 minutes away from me, so I didn’t see the stadium much.”
“Charlotte is literally fangirling about the stadium right now,” McKone joked.