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In July, 30 students and three PE staff took part in a 10-day Lacrosse trip to the USA to experience the 2022 Women’s World Lacrosse Championships in Washington and take part in a number of friendly lacrosse matches. 

Head of Lacrosse, Mr Abini, said of the trip:

Every trip is different but going on tour is always a great opportunity to learn about yourself, your teammates as well as enjoy new experiences. With this being the first oversees trip since the pandemic restricted travel, there was a lot of excitement, especially coupled up with the opportunity to explore the east coast of the USA and watch the Women’s Lacrosse World Cup.

From the first online meeting with our tour company we knew this would be a great tour, giving the students a special opportunity, such as the World Cup happening every four years, (this had been delayed a year, which worked out well for our tour cycle). After much planning (and lots of emails from Mrs Long), and organising kit (thanks to Mrs Hatlapa), we were all set to head off across the pond.

The itinerary was packed and after landing and quickly unpacking in the hotel, we headed off for our first activity, bowling. This helped with the jet lag, as it kept us going before getting a well earned rest for our fixture the next morning. Our first fixture saw us face Charmers Lacrosse, and this was a good chance to test our skills. Following the game, we spent some time with the opposition as they treated us to lots of post-match food, something we grew very accustomed to! Before heading to watch England play Canada in the semi-final of the World Cup, we took a tour of the US National Lacrosse Museum to learn about the history of Lacrosse. The semi-finals were great to watch, with Canada just edging the win 11-9 against England, and the USA with a convincing win against Australia. For the students, this was the first time many would have seen the sport played at the highest level with the best players in the world within touching distance.

The semi-final gave the St Mary's players a boost for the next day's competition, against another good team who were also hosting a number of the English school teams on tour (five in total). After lots more food we boarded our coach to take in the sights of Washington DC including a number of memorials and, of course, ensuring the girls got lots of pictures ‘for the socials!’

The rain came down on the finals' day of the World Cup, however, that did not deter the fans in the crowd; there were definitely more English fans than fans from any other country and I would like to think that our cheering helped England defeat Australia (in triple overtime)! The excitement was too much and one of the best scenes of the tour was all the English schools' supporters mobbing the players and cheering with them after the game. Then came the final game, in which the USA put on a masterclass in how to play lacrosse against a very good Canadian team. Following the finals, we took on a familiar foe in the form of Cheltenham Ladies' College, who were also on tour; this was a friendly game and played in good spirits and afterwards we were both treated to…lots of food!

Day five was another new experience for the team, playing in a travel teams' festival. This is something which many players do, they join a team and play in tournaments over the summer, not only is this good competitive lacrosse but also a way of being spotted by college coaches.

It would not be a trip without a few hiccups and although our plans had to be slightly adjusted due to our coach breaking down, we manged to make it to our rest-day activity. Tubing down the Delaware river is hard to describe, the pictures will do more justice but this was such a great experience; a lovely sunny day with clear skies and floating down a lazy river with a few rapids. I’m sure some of the students would have spent the whole ten days going down that river!

As well as shopping and taking in some of the tourist attractions in New York, we also played more lacrosse including South Jersey Select, who greeted us with British flags and bunting! They gave us a tour of the high school and their hospitality was amazing; both teams warmed up together and played lots of fun games and of course…. they gave us lots of food!

Our last full day of the tour was for me one of the highlights, not only did we have great fixtures in the morning against team 91, we also mixed up the teams with the opposition at the end, with everyone playing one big game. After this, we headed over to meet the Harlem Lacrosse programme. This is a charity which uses lacrosse as a tool to help underprivileged children not only to get through school, but also works with their families and communities to give them better futures. One of the stories we heard was about one of their players, no one in her family had ever made it through high school so her dream was to be able to do that. Through the programme, she completed high school and achieved a scholarship to play lacrosse in college and she was back helping to coach the programme over the summer. We spent some time talking to their coaches and playing fun lacrosse games with their players. At the end of the activities, we all made a circle to join in one of their traditions of finishing a practice by naming someone you are thankful for. It was a joy to see and hear our students being praised for their friendliness and how well they got on with the Harlem Lacrosse players, and a real testament to their characters. We are hoping to keep in touch with Harlem Lacrosse through the year and will hopefully plan more visits in the future.

The last day saw the group visit the iconic Statue of Liberty as well as the 9/11 Memorial, both very meaningful and moving for different reasons. We joined the bus for our last trip with a super coach driver, Cedric, and headed to JFK for our flight back home. 

After ten days of lacrosse, shopping and tourist visits, I can honestly say this has been one of the best tours I have been on and would gladly do it all again! The students learnt a lot, even from just playing against the opposition's teams and I’m sure they will take away the things they have learnt and implement them into their play for the season ahead. Thank you to the staff (Miss Pollitt and Miss Stephens), to the parents for giving the students the opportunity, and of course the students themselves for being amazing on tour!

A full report of the trip will feature in the school's new edition of Oxygen Magazine, due out in November.