On January 13th, 2018, Puerto Rican female lacrosse players became a part of something larger than themselves. The day marked the beginning of Puerto Rico Women’s Lacrosse program. Young women ranging from ages 14-30 came from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, Massachusetts, Florida and Illinois to launch this chapter for Puerto Rico Lacrosse.
The planning started with the formation of the Women's Lacrosse Committee, which was established in September of 2016. Puerto Rico Lacrosse Co-Founder, Miguel Lozada, knew that adding the women’s program was imperative after seeing young female athletes take to the sport during a Puerto Rico Lacrosse sponsored summer camp in 2015. Following much of the proven methods with establishing the Men's National team, Puerto Rico Lacrosse initiated the search for committed and proven leaders to form the Women's Lacrosse Committee. After screening many compentant applicants, the board appointed Natalie Bermudez and Sophia Lugo as those leaders who will cary the torch with the launch of the women's program. Along with identifying talent on the field, the committee will be tasked with planning future mission trips to Puerto Rico for community projects, raising awareness of the game, as well as having young female players serve as role models to the young girls trying the sport for the first time.
The atmosphere at this first team assessment was buzzing from start to finish. The girls began arriving and the waiting room quickly filled with eager players and their families. Everyone understood that what was happening was something truly remarkable. For these young players, the common theme until now, was a certain feeling of isolation as Puerto Rican women lacrosse players.The feeling of solitude while playing a sport you love is difficult to describe. However, being on a field with a team full of women that share your culture and your love for the sport, is also something that is difficult to put into words. The instant connection that these athletes made was witnessed not only from the field, but from those watching on the sidelines. Most had never met each other prior to that Saturday afternoon, but after they shook the jitters off, it was as if they had grown up together. This type of chemistry is something that a coach strives to achieve over weeks, months, and sometimes even years, but it only took minutes for these Puerto Rican ladies.
Women’s Development Committee Co-Chair, Natalie Bermudez, recalls the love and support amongst the players during competitive play as undeniable. “I don't think any of us truly knew how impactful it would feel until we took our final team huddle and our first ever group photo nearly in tears; our picture full of smiles from ear to ear speaks for itself.”
After the assessment completed, participants and their families remained at the complex to further get to know each other, exchange phone numbers and to continue to build those bonds. Several parents shared their experiences and pride of being surrounded by other Puerto Ricans while being able to see their daughters connect on and off the field with other players. This group of young women has created a strong foundation for Puerto Rico Women’s Lacrosse and will become ambassadors for the sport as we continue to build the organization and spread the game on the island and in the States.
The timing of this event proved to be especially important. With recent occurrences as a result of Hurricane Maria, there was a heightened sense of pride to be from an island with such resiliency. Having an opportunity to represent Puerto Rico through lacrosse became an even greater honor. As lacrosse struggles with diversity, there is no better time to establish our women's program and continue to highlight and bring together minority players to serve as role models for current and future generations.
Puerto Rico Women’s Lacrosse will host team assessments throughout 2018 across the country to continue to build the network of players in preparation for the U19 World Games in 2019 as well as the Women’s World Games in 2021.
Puerto Rico Lacrosse is an organization with the goal of introducing lacrosse to the island of Puerto Rico. Lacrosse is a sport that can provide the youth of Puerto Rico a wealth of opportunity. It is our goal to not only foster the growth of lacrosse within Puerto Rico but to establish a self-sustaining lacrosse community. Through lacrosse we are looking to make a positive impact on the lives of the youth of Puerto Rico. In forming a bond through this sport we hope to learn the needs of the community and help find ways to meet such needs. We seek to inspire the people of Puerto Rico, and provide hope, passion, and service by using lacrosse as our vehicle to do so.