Posted: 5 April, 2019

SPOTLIGHT on… Lacrosse

Blog, General, Guests, Interview, News, Senior School, Sixth Form, Sports

Early Beginnings

The birth of Lacrosse in the UK dates back to the late 1800s when England’s larger girls’ schools began to take up the new sport after the game had been showcased during a State visit by visiting Iroquois Indians and Canadians. The first official women’s game can be traced back to St Leonard’s School in Scotland in 1890.

“Stickball” as it was first termed, was originally an important part of Native American culture, and eventually evolved into the men’s game that we know today (with 10 players). The women’s game (with 12 players) though marginally less violent, also requires speed, hand-eye coordination and most importantly, a serious will to win.

Lacrosse Sticks on Putney Hill

At Putney High School, it was Mrs Fraser, the school’s now Director of Sport, who was in large part responsible for bringing Lacrosse to Putney. Herself a former England player, she told us, “It was always my dream to get Lacrosse going since I first came to Putney 16 years ago. But it wasn’t easy, not until we secured our home ground in 2016 at Wimbledon Rugby Club; that was a big stepping stone. It helped participation and it was a big thrill to start seeing all the lacrosse sticks on Putney Hill.”

“Having a home ground has meant we can challenge local schools, and bearing in mind that a lot of the schools we play against have been playing for decades, I’m really proud of Putney’s achievements. There have already been three international tours, in 2007, 2010 and 2013, to the East and West Coast of USA and we now have lots of girls continuing their Lacrosse at University. I know of old girls competing at Edinburgh, Bristol, Exeter and Durham.”

An Eye on the Future

This September, Putney’s Lacrosse ambitions will again step up a gear, as Claire Faram, England Senior squad player since the age of 21 with 27 caps, joins Putney as Head of Lacrosse. Claire has already been working with the girls in between managing her own commitments – she played for Great Britain last summer in the World Games in Poland.

Claire was hooked on the game relatively early on, “I really loved Pop Lacrosse at Primary School and from there I went to try out at a local club,” she told us. Her progress was swift, from playing for Cheshire, to 1st team at Loughborough University and joining the U19 World Cup squad in 2011.

Miss Faram has an experienced team to work with at Putney: Lori Westcott is an established coach at the school having taught Lacrosse at the school for 9 years; she played for England U21s and is also a GB age group triathlete. Eliza Watson (current England U23 national team and Senior Team player, who recently toured to Japan) and Schyler Neale, current Manager and Assistant Coach of the Kenya U19 women’s national team and veteran of the 2013 and 2017 World Cups (Ireland).

The new role of Head of Lacrosse brings with it high ambitions. “Keeping the girls playing in every year group so we can increasingly compete with other schools, is top of my list,” Miss Faram explained. “I’ll be drawing on my experience to develop the girls’ mental toughness, focus on strength and conditioning for injury prevention and make them robust and strong.”

Lacrosse here [at Putney] has a huge amount of potential, just based on how naturally athletic and feisty the girls are.”

“Also, we’re in a really strong county for Lacrosse, so there are plenty of opportunities to compete with other schools,” she told us. “The department has a really strong vision for taking the sport forward. We have a lot of talented coaches and the girls are eager to learn. They’re coachable and successful.”

There’s no doubt about it…Lacrosse at Putney is on the ascendancy.

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