U19 World Games Get Going in Germany
Team USA captain Taylor Trimble salutes fans Wednesday at opening ceremonies of the 2011 FIL U19 Women's World Championship.
© Clare Lochary
HANOVER, Germany – Gathered together at Sportpark Hannover, lacrosse players from all over the world waited for Hanover mayor Ingrid Lange to officially open the 2011 FIL Under-19 Women's World Championship. In their hands, they clutched national symbols -- a toy kangaroo for Australia, inflatable dragons for Wales, flags for everyone -- and clusters of pink and white balloons.
Upon Lange's declaration, the laxers released the balloons into the summer sky before a crowd of family and friends, marking an optimistic beginning to the fifth U19 world games. Twelve teams, an all-time high, are participating in the tournament, which is the first-ever FIL event to be held in Germany, a growing force in international lacrosse.
"We know that lacrosse is still globally quite small, but it's growing faster than ever before," FIL Women's Director Shelley Maher told the crowd.
Streaming into the stadium, the teams sang national songs, pop hits and call-and-response cheers with their opponents. Rivalries were put on hold as the high-spirited teams took in the moment.
"Seeing the girls finally here is so great. The opening ceremonies are one of the neatest things about the whole tournament -- taking in the other teams' songs and colors. It's a special thing to be a part of," said Team USA head coach Krystin Porcella.
American defender Barb Sullivan said that her team had an impromptu dance party with Team Germany in their shared hotel hallway this morning when they overheard the host team blasting techno music.
"It's great to meet the other teams," Sullivan said. "And it was fun to wear our colors in the opening ceremony."
Midfielder Tatum Coffey also enjoyed bonding with the other teams, but after a year-long tryout and training process, she's also eager to see what Team USA can do out on the field.
"If I could describe the feeling in one word, it would be unreal," Coffey said. "For so long, we've been talking about, 'When we're in Germany.' Now we're here, and we're so excited for the games. Finally, a game!"
The first game of the tournament was scheduled to be played after the opening ceremonies concluded Wednesday, when Germany will host the Czech Republic. Coffey and the rest of Team USA will play their first game of the tournament Thursday at 5 p.m. local time against Japan.
News and Notes
The 2011 tournament is the first U19 event ever for the Dutch national team... Per FIL tradition, the officials' delegation marched in the parade of nations. Since officials lacked a national anthem, organizers played the theme from Star Wars, to the approval of the crowd... The officials' delegation included participants from the Netherlands and Austria, both of which are firsts for those countries.