Lacrosse the Pond
Updated: Jan 30
When I was a senior at Lafayette College, my lacrosse team played against Durham University, a school from England. Three hours before the game, the seniors and juniors were asked to meet with the other team, which was weird. Why would we meet with the opponent beforehand?
Since it was a requirement, I went to the meeting with no expectations. We sat down and a girl on Durham University's Lacrosse Team (now I know her as my good friend Lottie) gave Lafayette Women's Lacrosse a presentation on Durham University's graduate program. Lottie explained that the UK doesn't have an NCAA so American athletes can do an accelerated masters course while playing lacrosse.
As she was speaking I started getting excited. I knew I was going to apply. Who wouldn't want to play another year of lacrosse AND get an athletic scholarship for their masters AND live in England for a year???
The second the meeting ended, I jumped up and introduced myself to the Coach. I told him I was very interested in the program. He gave me his business card and told me to reach out to him about applying.
When the lacrosse game started, the only thing I could think about was playing in England the following year. That game was so cold and miserable but I was so excited about the possibility of playing abroad. I talked to the defender on me (Hey, Rumbi) and she told me the team was super fun, which was the final deciding factor for me. I was dying to be on a fun team after four years of not-so-fun Division I lacrosse.
Right after the game, I told my parents I was interested in playing lacrosse for another year in England while I got my masters. I wrote the coach an email and sent my application in to Durham University two weeks later.
Going to Durham University was, without a doubt, the best thing that ever happened to me. I loved everything about the English town and the classes. The thing I loved the most was lacrosse. I didn't love lacrosse in the United States any more but my new team gave an amazing opportunity to rekindle my love for the sport and retire on a happy note. Below is the difference between a Division I Women's Lacrosse Team in the USA and a 6 time defending championship team in the United Kingdom.
After I graduated Lafayette College in 2019, the Women's Lacrosse Team got a new coaching staff and the athletic department got a new athletic director so a lot changed.
Playing a Division I sport requires skill, determination, and hard work. It also requires time management skills because the majority of your day is dedicated to lacrosse and the rest of your day has to be dedicated to academics. One of the biggest differences between lacrosse in the USA and lacrosse in the UK was the time commitment.
Lafayette - 3x/week for one hour out of season or 2x/week for one hour in season
Durham - 2x/week for one hour
Team meetings (including team therapy)
Lafayette - 2x/week for one hour
Durham - N/A
Lafayette - At the beginning of each year, we had a run test. To this day, I have not met anyone that has had a harder run test than my team. We ran five 200 yard sprints in under 40 seconds. In between each sprint we had to jog to the 50 yard line and back in under 1:20. After the 200s (without a break) we would have to run ten 100 yard sprints in under 17 seconds. In between each sprint we had to jog to the 25 yard line and back in under 43 seconds. Then (without a break) we would run fifty 200 yard sprints in under 8 seconds. In between each sprint we would have to run 25 yards in under 22 seconds. If this test sounds easy, I would suggest going to a football field and trying it.
Aside from the run test, every year was different for conditioning. Usually in fall ball we would run two times a week. During regular season it was expected that we kept in shape ourselves so we did not run as a team.
To keep this post on the shorter side, I am not going to talk about punishment running.
Durham - 2x/week for one hour.
Individuals - small sided practices
Lafayette - 2x/week for one hour
Durham- This was not asked of us
Lafayette - Coaches made the practice drills, decided how long practice was going to be, decided what the team rules were going to be, how rules were going to be enforced, what your team uniform would be, when you were going to lift, where you were going to eat on the road, where you were going to sleep at away games. how many hours you had to study based on your GPA and almost every other part of your college life.
Durham - At Durham we had one coach instead of three. Our coach would make the drills but he relied on us to coach each other. Team rules were decided and enforced by the team and the coach did not get involved. Lifting was mandatory, unless you had to skip it for class (which was not allowed in the USA). Our coach would also make subs during the game but besides making drills for practice and subbing during games, everything else was determined by the players.
Lafayette - Free gear: 3 pairs practice shorts, 2 pairs practice shirts, 2 pairs sweatpants, 2 pairs sweatshirts, pinny warm up shirt, jersey, underarmour, leggings, sticks, cleats, and turfs.
Durham - Nothing was free. And a pinny is called a "bib" in the UK.
Different Terminology and Rules
1) In the UK, the 8-meter is referred to as the 11 and the 12-meter is referred to as the 15.
2) In the USA you can self start and move on the whistle. In the UK you can't self start and you can't move on the whistle.
3) A field is called a pitch in the UK.
4) In the UK, there are only 3 attackers and defenders on the field at a time, while in the USA there are 4 attackers and defenders on the field.
5) Checking is almost always illegal in the United Kingdom.
Lafayette - In the United States, the coaches and the team are on the bus. At Lafayette we would do homework and watch movies before the game. After a win we would talk on the bus and then return to watching movies. After a loss we would sit in silence and sometimes the coaches would talk to us.
Durham - In the United Kingdom, the coaches do not come on the bus. Instead of having the whole bus for one team, most games we would share with other Durham sports teams heading to the same away game with us. Before the games, athletes would hangout amongst their own team. After the games we would drink on the bus and start pregaming with the other team before we went out. (My lacrosse team never lost a game so we could always celebrate after games!)
**Since the legal drinking age in England is 18, everyone on my team was legal.**
I cannot talk about Durham Lacrosse without talking about Wednesday Nights. The BIGGEST difference between lacrosse in the USA and the UK is that coaches know every team parties on Wednesday nights after games...and they don't get mad at you.