Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION
Lacrosse goalie in class of her own
Natasha Whitman travelled far and wide to find female lacrosse competition, and in the end a U.S. college scholarship found her.
Whitman, an 18-year-old goaltender from Fort Richmond, is the only female box lacrosse player in Manitoba and one of three field lacrosse players. The national letter of intent she signed this month with Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina makes her the first female lacrosse player from Manitoba to receive a U.S. scholarship.
With the exception of three tournaments with an American club called the X-Team, and a pair of goaltending camps at Northwestern and Duke universities, all her lacrosse has been played with boys. Not that she’s complaining.
"I like playing with boys a lot better," Whitman said, "because — this is going to sound weird — it’s a lot more violent. With the girls it can get pretty boring, because there’s no hitting at all."
The whole thing started for the St. John’s-Ravenscourt student seven years ago, when a friend from the boys’ hockey team she played on suggested she give lacrosse a try.
"I played it and I loved it right away," she said.
Whitman has played box lacrosse for the Sidewinders club ever since. But it was adding field lacrosse to her repertoire that opened her eyes to the world of college sports.
A chance encounter with the female owner of a local lacrosse store was what set the ball in motion two years ago.
"She told me about a handpicked team of boys I should play on that goes to a big tournament (the Vail Shootout) in Colorado every year," Whitman said. "She said lots of college scouts would be there."
Whitman joined that team, the Winnipeg Wolverines, in 2010, becoming the first female to play in the under-19 boys division at the prestigious event.
While box lacrosse remained her first love, she knew that the field game could lead to a more fruitful future.
"The net is bigger and there’s less equipment," she said of field lacrosse.
When she joined the X-Team club to play with and against female players, Whitman once again had to adjust, as she was introduced to a new set of rules.
"I had no idea there were different rules for women," she said.
Even though she didn’t grow up playing the female version of the game, Whitman is confident her experiences against the boys will serve her well once she gets to North Carolina in the fall.
"The shots are faster, and I’m not scared of being hit at all," she said, noting that she’s constantly covered with bruises. "It’ll be easier for me to take whatever they’re throwing at me."
(1 of 5 articles for today)1:00 AM 0
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