Toronto Beaches Lacrosse well represented on Team Ontario girls squads with players on the U13 and U15 rosters

Toronto Beaches Lacrosse players Neiva Chaput-Villamizar, Tessa Thornley and Maddy MacPherson were recently named to the Ontario U13 Girls Field Lacrosse Team. Photo: Submitted.

By JESSICA SHACKLETON

Toronto Beaches Lacrosse will be well-represented on Ontario’s U13 Girls Field Lacrosse Team.

Three players from the local club were selected to the Team Ontario roster after taking part in a series of tryout camps in the spring.

Madeleine MacPherson, Neiva Chaput-Villamizar, and Tessa Thornley will be on Team Ontario along with 16 other girls.

Under-13 is the first age group with the opportunity to be part of Team Ontario, so there was a mix of nerves and excitement for the local players to see if they made the team.

The girls were told that an email was supposed to go out at to those on the list at 8 p.m. on selection day, but by 8:25 p.m. there was still no word. On the way home from practice after stressfully checking emails, both Chaput-Villamizar and Thornley thought they hadn’t made it.

“I was coming home from lacrosse practice and I was staring at the clock. We sat in the car looking but there was no email,” said Chaput-Villamizar.

She was disappointed when she got home, but she told her dad who was very encouraging. Then her mom said there was a phone call for her.

It was a similar experience for Thornley.

“We didn’t get an email to say that I made it, so my mom told me that I was cut,” said Thornley. “But then I got a call from the coach asking me if I wanted to be a part of the team.”

Naturally, she immediately said yes. Chaput-Villamizar received the same call and also accepted a spot on Team Ontario.

“When I told my parents they didn’t believe me,” she said. “My parents were, very happy and I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Since head coach Sarah Pakosta called the players alphabetically, MacPherson received the phone call before going through the stress of not seeing an email.

“I found out that I was going to be on the team one evening after practice when my dad’s phone rang and he passed it straight to me,” she said.

It was coach Pakosta on the line. “She then asked me if I enjoyed lacrosse – and if wanted to be a part of this year’s Team Ontario U13 Lacrosse team,” said MacPherson.

Toronto Beaches Lacrosse has had a prominent youth program in the city for years and has a rich history of being a leader in the sport for girls.

Lacrosse is a sport that’s known for being physical and taking heart to succeed in.

“My favourite things about lacrosse is that you can get someone back. If a girl pushes you hard for no reason you can use that fire and put it into your skills,” said Chaput-Villamizar. “That helps your team and makes you feel good too.”

Lacrosse runs in the family as Chaput-Villamizar’s mother also played and is the Beaches’ team coach.

MacPherson loves the sense of community she gets from playing lacrosse. “I get to have loads of fun with my friends while being super active outside, running up and down the field, taking draws and scoring goals, and passing to my teammates,” she said.

The Team Ontario squad is part of the Provincial Team Program for the Ontario Lacrosse Association (OLA) and represents the OLA as an ‘all-star’ team. Team Ontario teams attend Lacrosse Canada Championship Tournaments, Invitational National Tournaments, events, and international tournaments.

The 19 members of the Team Ontario U13 girls squad come from all over the province and they have a built-in connection with each other – a love of lacrosse. All three of the Beach girls are excited to meet everyone else on the provincial team and travel for tournaments.

The team will play at the Lacrosse Sixes Showcase in Oshawa on July 17 and three showcase tournaments in the United States in the fall.

As girls get older, they often drop out of sports so being at the provincial level is a huge accomplishment. The local players have some wisdom to share for other athletes.

“Always have fun. If you are not having fun and enjoying what you are doing maybe try something that makes you happier as you need to be all in to persevere,” said MacPherson.

“My words of wisdom to young athletes is to not doubt yourself. The big reason why I have come so far is because I told myself I could do it and really worked hard to improve my skills,” said Chaput-Villamizar.

For lacrosse-specific advice, Thornley said that “wall ball” is important for building skills and “to never give up on your dreams.”

Also representing Toronto Beaches Lacrosse on the Team Ontario U15 girls squad are players Ayden Brady, Mackenzie Holmes, Grace Crossland-Coghill, Sydney Roedde, and Taylor Thornley.

The entire Toronto Beaches Lacrosse community is proud of the accomplishments of these young athletes and is looking forward to seeing them play with Team Ontario.

For more about the Toronto Beaches Lacrosse girls programs, please visit https://beacheslacrosse.com/girls-lacrosse-history/


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