On Friday 8th July, five Berkhamsted girls, Phoebe Smith, Izzy Yates, Fiona Fletcher, Tara Dempsey and I, met up with the rest of the England Lacrosse U19 squad at Heathrow airport, ready to take on an opportunity of a lifetime: to travel to America and represent our country, doing something we love, playing lacrosse.
After landing in Philadelphia, we headed to West Chester University Halls to prepare for the first tournament the very next day. I had to shrug off the jet lag and kit up for the first series of matches at the The Grind Lacrosse Tournament, played over two days. The scale of the tournament was enormous; unlike anything I had experienced in England. To put it into perspective, I had to jump on and off the coach to get from one pitch to another! The tournament went well for England, with the A squad finishing as champions, which was a fantastic start to the tour.
I then had a day exploring the historic city of Philadelphia, including shopping in the second largest mall in the US and re-enacting the famous Rocky scene as he runs up the steps to the Liberty Bell. After an evening training session, I was introduced to my wonderful host family from a local club, where I stayed for the next two nights. They went to a lot of effort to make sure I was comfortable and enjoying myself. It was a fantastic experience to compare my love for different foods and to swap ideas and recommendations. This ended in getting my host family trying marmite, whilst I tried my first ‘s’more’, a camp-side marshmallow treat. Political discussions also ensued and we were curious about the forthcoming Presidential election and gun control, whilst they asked about the EU referendum and the NHS.
The next couple of days included matches against local lacrosse clubs and various coaching sessions, including one with Denise Wescott, one of the best lacrosse coaches in the world.
I was very impressed with the standard of lacrosse I encountered and the popularity of the game in the US was also visible when I went shopping at the cavernous ‘Lax World’.
The team moved on to play more matches and to have coaching sessions in Washington DC, where I again became a classic tourist and roamed around the city seeing the White House, which was not as big as I had expected, and the Lincoln Memorial. After an exhausting eight days, Team England were given the last day off and headed to Six Flags, a huge theme park where we literally plunged out of our comfort zones.
We all arrived back in England early Sunday morning with lots more experience under our belt, knowing we had made our country, our school and ourselves proud.
Orgininal Image by Georgie Shelley