New-Look WDNT Opens Saturday
by Brian Logue | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff
|A record 55 teams will compete in the Schoolgirls
Division of the US Lacrosse Women's Division National
Last year, the US Lacrosse Women’s Division National
Tournament celebrated its 75th anniversary. This year, the
event’s largest division – the Schoolgirls Division
– will have a vastly different look.
The event, sponsored by Brine and the Heather Leigh Albert Foundation, kicks off on Saturday at the new Cedar Lane Sports Park in Bel Air, Md., just north of Baltimore. More than 1,500 of the nation’s top women’s lacrosse players will be competing in the Schoolgirls Division, the Seniors Only Division, the Regional Club Division and the Stars and Stripes Division, which serves as the first round of tryouts for the 2009-10 U.S. women’s national team.
The big change is in the Schoolgirls Division, which features a record number 55 teams. The Schoolgirls Division has evolved into one of the most important recruiting events of the year for aspiring college players. As of Thursday, more than 150 college coaches had pre-registered to attend the event.
In recent years, the teams were grouped into regions based on the US Lacrosse structure of regions. This year, the teams are grouped more locally into sub-regions, particularly in the areas with the highest number of players.
For instance, last year the Upper Atlantic Region teams were comprised of players mixed in from Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This year, there are four Philadelphia teams, a Central Pennsylvania team, a Western Pennsylvania team, two North Jersey teams, two South Jersey teams and the Delaware players are playing on an Eastern Shore team that includes players from Maryland.
The driving force behind the change? Simplifying the tryout process and trying to keep costs down.
“The main reason was the distance for tryouts,” said Brooke Fritz, a high school representative to the US Lacrosse Women’s Division Board of Governors. “We had girls from Utah flying to Colorado for tryouts. That goes against trying to be a cost-effective way to compete against kids from around the country. We’ve said you don’t have to be on an expensive club team.”
Coordinating the large regional tryouts was also a challenge – from renting field space in central locations, lining up officials from different areas and working with volunteers and coaches where there wasn’t as much familiarity.
“It made everything that much more difficult,” said Fritz. “Logistically it was getting too big and we were afraid too many of our volunteers were going to throw in the towel.”
The decision to switch was made and slots in the tournament were awarded based on the number of high school coach members of US Lacrosse in the sub-regions. Even with the expansion from 48 to 55 teams, it’s tough to accommodate everyone’s wishes.
“More people than ever are interested in this event,” said Ann Carpenetti, Women’s Division director for US Lacrosse. “This one continues to stand out from the (other recruiting events). This division could grow by another 10 teams easily if we could effectively support the process at the regional level.”
The change will also likely bring back some local pride to the event, with players feeling more connected to their teams.
“You’re back playing where you know everybody on your team at least by name if not personally,” said Fritz. “It’s still tough, we don’t practice. It’s an all-star team that learns on its feet.”
National Tournament Notes
• Parking is limited at Cedar Lane and spectators are encouraged to car pool. A weekend parking pass costs $40 for as many people you bring in. Individual parking passes are $20.
• The U.S. Developmental team will play at exhibition game on Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. against the Haudenosaunee Nation. The Haudenosaunee team is one of 16 teams that will compete for the World Cup next June. The game follows the Seniors Only Division All-Star game, which begins at 5 p.m.
• Stay tuned to Lacrosse Magazine Online all weekend for complete coverage of the US Lacrosse Women’s Division National Tournament.
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