Female lacrosse players in Penticton gathered for their first practice of the season recently. (Submitted)

Penticton wants to break new ground for female lacrosse in the Okanagan

Association is hosting a free clinic with Savannah Smith, a former NCAA player

The Penticton Minor Lacrosse Association is “breaking the ground” for the Thompson-Okanagan region with a push to get more female lacrosse players into the game.

“There are no female only teams in our region. Penticton lacrosse wanted to take on the lead for the whole region to get more girls playing lacrosse and build a template for more associations to follow,” said Penni King, Penticton Minor Lacrosse Association vice-president and TOMBLC girls director. “The female side of lacrosse is struggling and there are lots of universities in Canada and the U.S. that are looking for players. There are scholarship opportunities. This is an untapped sport and players are in such high demand at the post-secondary level so there is a lot of possibility for girls to move on and have a great opportunity in front of them.”

It is why they are inviting females interested in playing, or have already been involved in the sport, to join them for a free clinic with Savannah Smith—a former NCAA division one field lacrosse player and the coach of the U19 Team BC female box lacrosse squad for the 2020 North American Indigenous Games. Smith played for North Delta as a youth, on boys teams, until she graduated to an intermediate program. She started playing for the South Fraser Warriors and the league that exists today is one that she helped start when she was just 16 years old.

READ ALSO: B.C. lacrosse legends celebrate Canadian titles, life after crash

“We are really excited to have her for this clinic as she is quite an accomplished female athlete. She not only will run a clinic but will share her passion for the sport. This is more than just a drop-in session for athletes that have never tried the sport before, it will also be educational for girls that have lacrosse experience and want to know how to get to the next step,” said King.

While female player registration numbers are lower than last year for Penticton Minor Lacrosse, King said she excited to have the group of athletes that have signed up so far. She said they are seeing a lot of the youth have a background in hockey, soccer and other sports. King said because lacrosse is very much about hand-eye co-ordination and developing cardio, it can translate well for training in other sports.

The current group in Penticton aims to play exhibition games against other female teams in Cranbrook and the Lower Mainland. King credits the help of Mike and Sue Kinna who moved to the area recently and have coached their daughter (Megan Kinna) in minor lacrosse, she now plays for the Northwestern University Wildcats.

“They have brought great knowledge and are amazing coaches. They really have helped us and now we can say we have all this experience behind us to help build a strong program. We really want to continue to build momentum and get that going in other associations with our template,” said King.

Once other associations have built up female registration numbers, King would like to see a north and south team. She said from there they have a vision of each association having their own female team to build their own league.

The girls lacrosse clinic takes place on April 26 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. (no experience necessary). Smith will be sharing her tips to becoming a better player and how her love of the game led her to play for La Salle University. To register contact penni@vp.pmla@gmail.com.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


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