Tryouts for the Utah/Idaho U17 girls lacrosse team will be held Saturday March 23rd at 10am at Oakdale Elementary School. This elite team is comprised of 18 field players and two goalies. Seventeen players will be selected to represent Utah, while three players will be selected in a separate Idaho tryout. The Utah/Idaho U17 girls team will compete in the Women’s National Tournament in Baltimore Maryland on May 25 and 26, 2019.
The Woman’s National Tournament is a yearly lacrosse tournament put on by US Lacrosse which has become one of the nation’s marquee college recruiting events. Teams are divided into 7 divisions based on skill level. Last year’s team competed in the Mohawk division against teams from Philadelphia, Orlando, Kentucky and DC Metro. The 2018 Utah/Idaho team finished the tournament with a record of 2-1.
I did some digging and spoke with former players who played for the Utah/Idaho team throughout the years, as well as previous coaches and parents. Here are 5 benefits to playing on this team.
For players who want to get their names out there, it can be challenging to find opportunities to be seen by college lacrosse coaches. What better way than to compete in front of coaches from all over the country? On the tournament’s website, it declares that The National Tournament has “become one of the nation’s marquee college recruiting events.” College coaches make it a priority to come to this tournament, and for players who are interested in possibly playing in college, it gives them access to coaches that are otherwise inaccessible from home.
Simone Nixon, whose daughter Gabbi competed in the National Tournament in 2017 held in New Haven Connecticut, offered her perspective on recruiting. She pointed out that “the amount of college coaches is phenomenal. Every coach is there, from all over.” To help each individual player, she stated “the team chaperone walks the college line and gives the team roster to the coaches. If a girl is interested in a particular college, it is a great opportunity for that coach to see them play in this tournament.” Gabbi Nixon is now a freshman at Marist College in New York.
Scott Carrico, whose daughter Grace played in the tournament last year held in Stony Brook, New York, stated that going into the tournament, he had no idea or understanding of college recruiting. He was pleasantly surprised that throughout the tournament, his daughter was getting looks from coaches- “some as far as New York.” Grace is now a high school senior and has committed locally to play at Westminster.
Top Level Play
Often, Utah/Idaho U17 players are some of the top players on their high school team. To go from being the best on their team to joining a lacrosse team where the whole squad is just as talented as them can be humbling, but also invigorating. Playing with and against top level talent allows players to develop a deeper understanding of the game, their own limitations, and working together as a team.
Kristi Halford, whose daughter Dakota played in 2016 in Long Island, New York, mentioned how playing with top talent helped her daughter prepare for college. “She was able to play at the level she would expect to play at in college with this top-level team. It was a good experience to have the faster paced games for her.” Dakota Halford is a sophomore at Tennessee Wesleyan College.
Hanna Thatcher played for the Utah/Idaho U17 girls team in 2012 at Stony Brook, New York. Hanna saw improvement in her game by playing against other quality players. Hanna commented “I think the most beneficial part of playing on the U17 team was being able to play with other girls with incredible talent. My game and field sense was elevated as I played with, watched, and learned from other great players.” Hanna went on to say that “playing against top tier teams really showed me the strengths and weaknesses of my own individual game and helped me find areas that needed improvement.” Hanna went on to play at BYU and is now currently the head coach of her high school alma mater.
Each year, a local coach and assistant coach is selected to coach the U17 team. Because the tournament only allows teams to have a very limited number of practices, it is important that the coaches have the knowledge and experience to lead a group of girls as well as the ability to adjust on the fly. The opportunity for players to learn from new coaches with new teammates allows them to grow and expand as players.
Last year’s coach, Krista Call, understands the importance of a diversity of coaching. She stated “I push my players to get coaching outside of just me. So many coaches have different ideas, and you can take from every coach and apply it to your game and make yourself better.”
Alissa Johnson played on the Utah/Idaho U17 lacrosse team in 2017 as a high school sophomore. Alyssa echoed Coach Call’s statements about the importance of getting outside coaching. Alissa commented “I think getting a different perspective on the game is super important and the U17 team gets some of the best coaches in the state. It is super nice to learn from very educated coaches who really understand the game.”
Playing on the Utah/Idaho U17 girls team helps players develop friends for a lifetime. It creates a richer lacrosse experience on player’s high school teams because they know more players in the league and have a bigger picture of the lacrosse community as a whole. It allows players to reach outside of their team and develop bonds that will not only enrich their own experiences, but those of their high school teammates as well.
Grace Carico played on last year’s U17 team. She is now a senior playing for her high school team in Idaho. Her team played in last weekend’s Gathering of the Tribes Tournament. Grace’s teammates kept asking her how she knew someone on every team. Grace’s father, Scott, stated “not only has Grace made lifelong friendships, so has our family.”
Some of Alissa Johnson’s closes friends are those she met on the U17 team. She mentioned “I actually met my best friend from the U17 team. Being on such a high intensity and high level team, it really creates such a bond in the team that you can’t find anywhere else.” Alissa was only a sophomore when she played on the 2017 team. She stated “when I made the team, I was one of the youngest and remember being really nervous about my age and not being able to fit in.” She quickly developed bonds with her teammates. “The team was so inclusive and so welcoming,” Johnson said. “I was grateful to have older players from all over the state to be my mentors and really shape me as a player.
Watching the NCAA Division I Championships.
One of the highlights of everyone’s experience is watching the NCAA Division I Woman’s Semi-Final and Championship games. The U17 tournament is scheduled alongside the DI semi-finals and championship games so that participants are able to watch these games in person. The past two years have been a special treat as Hannah Hyatt, who played for the U17 lacrosse team in 2014 and currently plays for Boston College, has participated in the NCAA championship games in 2017 and 2018.
Mike Meyer, whose daughter Jaimeson played on last year’s team as a freshman, recalls his experience watching the championship game. “The experience was once in a lifetime,” Meyer explains, “I sat with the James Madison (JMU) players’ parents above the JMU bench. At halftime, I walked across the stadium to where the U17 Utah/Idaho Team were sitting and told my daughter and one of her teammates to come sit with me and meet some of the JMU parents.” The girls were able to learn from the parents of the players. One of the player’s grandfathers, “told the girls what (the player) did in the summer to prepare for each season.” Mike further stated that “about 10 minutes after the game, my daughter looked at me and said ‘Dad, I want to do what it takes to play Division I Lacrosse.”
The Utah/Idaho U17 Team is a great opportunity for players and creates memories for a lifetime. The experiences and friendships that come from competing in this tournament are enriching for any player that has the opportunity to compete at this level. Players who are interested in trying out on March 23rd can register by clicking here.
Or you can register on-site at Oakdale Elementary School, 1900 Creek Road, Cottonwood Heights, Utah. There is a $20 tryout fee that can be paid online or on site.