Kelly Berger

Kelly Berger (left), seen here competing against Australia, will be playing for the United States in the 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse Women's World Cup in July. (Gani Pinero Photography / October 7, 2012)

Two Howard County girls lacrosse coaches will be playing in the 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse Women's World Cup in July. The tournament will be held near Toronto, Canada July 11-20.

Kelly Berger, who coaches girls lacrosse at River Hill High School, will be playing for the United States — the defending World Cup champion. Wilde Lake girls lacrosse coach Davia Procida will be representing Israel, which is making its tournament debut.

The Women's World Cup is held every four years. This year, there are 19 teams spread among four pools for round-robin play. All members of Pool A, which includes the United States, Australia, England and Canada, and the top two teams from Pools B, C and D plus one extra team will make up the championship bracket.

The remaining teams will be regrouped into two other pools and play in the Diamond consolation bracket.

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Taking a chance

After Davia Procida graduated from Frostburg University, where she was named to the Jewish Sports Review All-American first team, she expressed an interest in helping build lacrosse in Israel, the land of her heritage.

"I love lacrosse and I want to help grow it in the world," she said.

Instead, she accepted an offer to teach and coach at Wilde Lake High School, her alma mater.

Last year, when she saw a press release announcing tryouts for the Israel women's lacrosse team, she knew she couldn't pass up the opportunity.

"It was a long shot, but you have to take chances when they come," she said. "This is probably the only time (for me). I'm 25 and I would be 29 for the next World Cup."

Procida, a low defender, had exactly 40 days to prepare.

Not only was she out of shape, she hadn't played lacrosse in over two years.

"I learned that there is a difference between being in physical shape and being in lacrosse shape," she said.

When she was invited to try out, Procida decided to include her students and her Wilde Lake team in her journey. She kept a blog and let them know that they were a huge inspiration to her.

"I wanted to be able to prove to them that you can set a goal — even if it is a wild goal — and if you put everything into it, you can achieve it."

Her students asked every day if she had heard if she had made the team. The answer came in mid March, but Procida had to keep it quiet until the official press release came out.

She made Israel's 20-player squad, but with an asterisk. The team can have nine Jewish Americans; Procida is number 10. She will train with the squad in Israel and if a player is injured Procida will replace her. If there isn't an opening, then she will serve as an assistant coach.

"It's going to be a really cool experience whether I play or coach," she said.

Another interesting aspect is that each player on the Israel team will be competing in honor of a charity of their choosing. Procida, a health teacher, picked Jewish Women International and is specifically advocating an end to violence against women.

"There are so many good charities, but that one just sparked my interest. Maybe because in school I was teaching about abuse," she said.