All-girls lacrosse camps being held in Sask. in hopes of creating 1st female provincial team

The all-girls lacrosse camp was the first time 8-year-old Brooke-Lynn Jeeves played with only girls.

The first camp was held in Regina, the next camps are in Saskatoon on March 3 and Prince Albert on April 7

Brooke-Lynn Jeeves (left) said it was fun to play with all-girls for the first time. (Saskatchewan Lacrosse Association/Facebook)

Brooke-Lynn Jeeves loves lacrosse because it's exciting but has never played with more than a couple of other girls on her co-ed teams.

That's why the eight-year-old was excited for the all-girls lacrosse camp held in Regina on Feb. 23, 2019.

"I actually really liked it a lot," Jeeves said. "I didn't feel really like I'm trapped inside a lot of boys, like in the middle."

"Mostly a lot of boys play hockey and they're like trying to steal the ball and they're pretty rough and the girls are just pretty gentle," she said.

The all-girls lacrosse camp was put on by the Saskatchewan Lacrosse Association at the YWCA Regina to develop the young players. In time, Saskatchewan could have its first all-women provincial team. The next two planned camps are in Saskatoon on March 3rd and in Prince Albert on April 7th. 

Darcy Ratt is the Women's Sector Chair with the SLA and one of the coaches at the Regina clinic.

"As the young girls started to show up they were just nervous," said Darcy Ratt. "Once the stick was placed in their hand and they had their helmets—it was just like they always played."

Around 20 young girls took part in the Regina lacrosse camp, with ages ranging from around five to the oldest participant registered being over 30. (Submitted by Darcy Ratt)

It was the first camp for all-girls run by the SLA in at least the last six years, Ratt said. Players were taught about the sticks and picking up the ball, passing, catching and other basics.

"There was lots laughing and confidence building and skills acquired during the day," Ratt said. 

Around 20 girls joined the camp from as young as around five to some registered in their 30s.

Darcy Ratt said at the end of the day, the girls challenged their parents to a relay. “There was lots of laughing and parents said that they were not going to be yelling at the kids quite so much when they are playing as it's not as easy as it looks.” (Submitted by Darcy Ratt)

Bridget Pottle is the Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Lacrosse Association. Pottle said they are hoping to develop now and eventually make Saskatchewan's first all-female provincial team.

"It's no secret our numbers have been growing," Pottle said. "Nationally across the country, lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports."

Currently in Saskatchewan, girls wanting to play competitively need to play on co-ed teams.

"Right now we're just focused on the development," Pottle said. "And once we start developing then you know we'll take Phase Two into getting them into these more competitive teams and we don't want to push them too quick."

The Regina all-girls lacrosse camp was held in the YWCA gym on Feb. 23, 2019. (Submitted by Darcy Ratt)

One of the reasons they're building now is because lacrosse isn't that well known, Ratt said.

"With the Saskatchewan Rush, it's helped a lot," Ratt said.

As well, athletes are widely spread out across the province, she said. Teammates can be from Weyburn, Prince Albert, Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw or the surrounding reserves so practices can be difficult to schedule but worth it for the team.

Sport pushing girls from passive to confident 

Ratt said in her experience with her daughter, she's seen her confidence grow.

"I have watched her go form being kind of passive to being confident and aggressive."

"[Players] like how it makes them feel," Ratt said. 

"When you achieve a good catch or are able to shoot and score, that smile comes with it and the confidence," Ratt said. "They carry themselves with pride." 

Darcy Ratt said they worked to teach the girls the basics of the sport, including 'cradling' the ball in the netting while running. (Saskatchewan Lacrosse Association/Facebook)

As for Jeeves, she's planning on continuing playing in Regina with the Queen City Minor Box Lacrosse.

"It's fun, it gets me up and running. I used to watch a lot of TV but now I'm always up running at lacrosse," she said.

Jeeves is hopeful for an all-girl team in the future.