In sports, not much surpasses representing your country in international competition.
This summer, a handful of the best local high school girls lacrosse players should get that opportunity when the United States plays host to the first Leader/International Federation of Women's Lacrosse Associations' Under-19 World Championship at Haverford College near Philadelphia.
Only 19, of an estimated 90 eligible girls, will make the cut after tryouts at Roland Park on May 13 and 14, but Under-19 assistant coach Wendy Kridel expects the Baltimore area to be well represented.
"I can look at just the AIS kids and I can pick seven I would take," said Kridel, head coach of top-ranked Roland Park. "And that's with not getting to see enough of the [public school] kids, but I think I have a pretty good feel for the top 15 kids in the area."
Still, reputation won't get anyone on the team.
The players must impress nine selectors in two days. Kridel and Mount Hebron coach P. J. Kesmodel are among the selectors, which include representatives from Philadelphia, New England, New York, the Midwest and several other regions.
"It's really scary," said Mount Hebron's Erin McGinnis, one of the few players already chosen to try out. "But even if I don't make the team, it's such a great experience. I'm going to be playing with the best girls in the nation. It's extremely flattering. It's nerve-wracking, but it's awesome. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
The idea for the Under-19 world championship emerged in a 1992 meeting of the IFWLA's executive board, said Sue McVaugh, a spokeswoman for the United States Women's Lacrosse Association. The proposal was accepted the next year and the United States and Scotland bid to play host to the event, which will be conducted every four years.
"The boys did it a couple of years ago and I'm glad we're right behind them," said Sue Heether, a goalie for the U.S. elite squad and an assistant coach at Notre Dame Prep.
"It's such an opportunity to see the differences in the game itself," said Heether, who played on the U.S. team that won the World Cup in 1993. "Each individual country has a different style and it will be great for them to see that at a young age. Whether you play Mount Hebron style or Notre Dame style or the north style, there's more to lacrosse than what you play. Whether it's right or wrong, good or bad, it's great for them to see that."
Heether, who came from Chicago to play at Loyola, also said the Under-19 team should spark more interest out West in areas such as Colorado and California where the game is growing.
Like the others, those regions can send a limited number of players to the May tryouts based on their USWLA membership. The Baltimore area will have seven trying out while Chesapeake, which includes Anne Arundel and some Howard County schools, will have nine.
"Other areas get to send three or four players," said Kridel. "They might have good membership but don't have nearly the caliber of player. It pains me to think what seven players are we going to send from Baltimore to this tryout."
The Baltimore players will be picked today from among those earning spots on the South schoolgirl team that competes at the USWLA's national tournament Memorial Day weekend.
Chesapeake conducted its schoolgirl tryouts last weekend and will send McGinnis and Dani Vissers, Mount Hebron; Amy Brew and Stephy Samaras, Annapolis; Michelle Dillow and Lisa Martin, North County; Jennie Voishan, Severna Park; Megan Riley, South River; and Joyce Wu, Severn to the Under-19 tryouts.
Those who make it -- 16 players and three alternates -- will attend several training sessions in July, including the USWLA developmental camp.
On Aug. 6, they open their world title bid against Australia, followed by matches with each of the other competitors -- Wales, England, Scotland, Japan and Canada. The championship game will be played at 2 p.m. Aug. 12.