Lacrosse: Timperley, WAX breaking down barriers

Megan Woodward
Contact ReporterCarroll County Times

The United States looks like it does it the movies, according to Elise Humblet.

Humblet, 14, is on her first tour to Maryland with the Timperley Lacrosse Club, based in Cheshire, England. About 40-45 players and a group of coaches and chaperones made the 3,500-mile trip to the States to participate in a 10-day tour of Maryland hosted by the Maryland Express Lacrosse Club.

The Westminster-based boys and girls travel teams have been partnering with Timperley for nine years, and each club hosts every other year. The culture shock is quite eye-opening for some England natives who have never been to the U.S.

"It's nice to see how different it is in two different countries," Timperley's Gabby Hall, 14, said. "We say crisps and they say chips, so we're understanding the language."

Language barriers aren't the only differences between the two groups. Athletics in England are quite the opposite of what is widely known in the States. When Hall tells her peers back home that she plays lacrosse, most are shocked, she said.

Some even ask if it's a game played with a stick.

Lacrosse in England is strictly club-based, for the most part. Timperley coach Fabienne Johnson coaches the club team and visits local primary schools as a member of the club's outreach program to introduce kids to the game from a young age.

"We like to get them started at the age of 5 and that's where we start getting the idea of lacrosse into their head," Johnson said. "[We have] one practice a week and a game every week or fortnight depending on the age group. That's how we get them more involved and it's growing really well in Manchester in particular. Lacrosse is probably one of the fastest growing sports and we try to push that everywhere and do more of it."

This is Johnson's second time in the U.S. and she came as a player on her first tour. Everything is a lot bigger to her here, she said, especially the roads, houses and playing fields.

Maryland Express is part of Westminster Area Lacrosse (WAX), a youth program for beginners and experience players. Players stay with a host family for the duration of the tour, which usually lasts 10 days. Timperley arrived Monday evening and played its first games Tuesday evening at Friendship Valley Elementary School.

There were boys games taking place as well, with a team from Gamber facing off against a Timperley team.

A slate of games is scheduled for Wednesday at Johns Hopkins' Homewood Field, and more games are set for Friday at Friendship Valley.

The players will take trips to Guppy Gulch in Delta, Pennsylvania, and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, as well as enjoy a few free days to spend with their host families between lacrosse games during the tour.

The clubs will play their final games next Tuesday at U.S. Lacrosse's Tierney Field in Sparks, at the headquarters for the men's and women's national teams.

"I think the biggest part watching the girls on the sideline and knowing my WAX girls and getting to see them experience it for the first time, they're so taken by the accents," said Julie Moreland, WAX girls coordinator. "It's so beyond lacrosse to them and that's what the program is all about. Lacrosse is really the gateway for the exchange and the friendships and everything. Some of the local girls know the girls that are hosting and they're getting anxious to talk to the girls from England and create their own friendships with them."

Courtney Devilbiss, 13, and Paige Moreland, 12, are WAX players who joined forces with the Maryland Express team to play in games and host players. The girls have never been on a tour of England, but said they hope to do so next summer.

"It's really good that everyone in the world is playing lacrosse," Devilbiss said. "We're all together here."

mwoodward@carrollcountytimes.com

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