Lax to the Max: Women's 35+ lacrosse league forms in Kennett Square12/01/2021 10:34AM ● By Richard Gaw
Courtesy photo Kennett Area Women's Lacrosse began play in October, as part of Brandywine Valley Sports and Recreation's commitment to promote and provide recreation, sports and activities in southern Chester County.
By Richard L. Gaw
On Sunday afternoons throughout the month of October, as many as 20 women over the age of 35 gathered together on the artificial turf of Legacy Field in Kennett Square, equipped with lacrosse sticks and the belief that they could turn back time.
To each player – whether they came once, twice or to each practice or scrimmage -- those 90-minute sessions became both a physical challenge and a love letter to the sport they grew up playing. With each clamping, clearing and cradling, they allowed themselves the freedom to tuck into a safe cocoon, away from the stressors of their professions and their role as the CEO of their families. They enjoyed dizzy stick contests and played in Halloween costumes and laughed uproariously over the fact that the muscles that moved so fluidly when they were 18 don't work as well anymore.
They gave themselves permission to fling open the back pages of their lives in the company of those who were doing the same. Together, they formed the first season of Kennett Area Women's Lacrosse, and they simply had too much fun to stop now.
“I got to meet 20 new friends who share something we are passionate about and love,” said Nadine Durham of Havertown, who played lacrosse at the University of Maryland. “It was a gift to have been given the opportunity to rekindle that competitiveness and do it on a Sunday afternoon, as a gift to ourselves.
“The last time I played in a lacrosse game was 25 years ago, so being able to run up and down the field and finding a teammate and high-fiving brought back a lot of what I truly enjoy about the sport. It was fun to be back in our element, and to enjoy the commonality and shared passion.”
The idea to launch the league was conceived earlier this year by Kennett Square resident Catherine “Cat” Stenta, who played lacrosse at Wilmington Friends School and at Gettysburg College. For the past several years, she has stood on the sidelines of her children's games and tournaments and practices, as well as seen her husband join a men's lacrosse league.
“Playing lacrosse in high school was a go-to place for me,” Stenta said. “It became that thing that connected with me in my life and I wanted to get back to that feeling again. I saw that there weren't any opportunities for women over 35 to play lacrosse in the area, so one day I went on Facebook and asked, 'Is anyone interested in playing lacrosse?' The response was almost immediate.”
Stenta then met with Susan Gaughan of the newly-formed Brandywine Valley Sports and Recreation (BVSR) and in keeping with the organization's mission of providing athletic opportunities for people of all ages in southern Chester County, Kennett Area Women's Lacrosse was formed.
'Like a breath of fresh air'
Lauren Jones, who last played competitive lacrosse when she was a student at Virginia Tech, arrived at her first practice filled with apprehension.
“I had a wooden stick from 1992 and I hadn't played lacrosse in over 20 years, and I wondered how competitive the other players were, yet the idea of playing lacrosse again was exhilarating,” she said. “Every single practice was like a breath of fresh air that I hadn't had in a very long time. That competitive feeling that I had been missing in my life had returned after so long.
“It felt so great to be a part of a team again, and despite the fact that it took me nearly a week for my body to recover, it was worth every ache and pain.”
For Meg Ryan, a high school lacrosse teammate of Stenta's who had last played lacrosse when she was a student at Williams College, joining Kennett Area Women's Lacrosse required her to leave her Lower Merion home at 2 p.m. and not return until past 6:30 p.m.
“I would tell my children, 'See you, kids. Mom is going to play lacrosse,'” Ryan said. “Being a part of this allowed me to be in the camaraderie of other women working for the same goal. We've spent much of the past decade and more managing the demands of our families and putting other's needs ahead of our own, so to be able to do something just for us was thrilling, with no ulterior motive and no overarching benefit for anyone but our enjoyment and well-being.”
While Stenta's goal is to form teams within Kennett Area Women's Lacrosse within two years, she said that the formation of the group served as the needed “baby steps” for both the organization and its members.
“The fact that we are having so much playing with each other now – in five-on-five or seven-on-seven scrimmages and sometimes using only half of the field – lends a certain informality and has been a great draw for those who haven't played in many years,” she said.
While the inaugural season of Kennett Area Women's Lacrosse did not have the usual pomp and glory of organized play, it did include some of the typical components of the game. At the second practice, Stenta accidentally gave another player a black eye. The woman, however, did not leave the field, climb in her car and drive home.
“She went right back in,” Stenta said. “While we all enjoyed the competition, the energy of the practices and the scrimmages brought belly laughter, and we also got to develop in ways we haven't seen in ourselves in years.
“I don't 'play' that much in my life right now, and I found that by being with these other women, that it is important for our mental and physical health, and in general, it fulfills the need for human beings to connect with one another.”
To learn more about Kennett Area Women's Lacrosse, visit them on Facebook, or email [email protected].
Founded this past February as a non-profit organization, Brandywine Valley Sports and Recreation (BVSR) provides and promotes recreation, sports and activities for children of all ages in southern Chester County. The organization's goal is to promote the development of leadership, character, teamwork, integrity, athletic ability, artistic ability and to nurture youth and family fitness, volunteerism, and a lifelong love of an active lifestyle. To learn more about BVSR, visit https://www.brandywinevalleysportsandrecreation.org
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].