McDermott, a marketing major and president of LMU’s women club lacrosse team, studied in Madrid, Spain, this past fall. Together with her teammate and friend, junior graphic design major Kailey Strachan, McDermott decided it was necessary to continue playing lacrosse while they were overseas.
Junior marketing major Hannah McDermott (left) and junior graphic design major Kailey Strachan (right) pose after practice at European University of Madrid.
Confused and a little nervous, LMU junior Hannah McDermott walked around the lit streets on the outskirts of Madrid without a clue of where she was headed. She had plans to meet up with other local lacrosse players, but navigating a foreign country at night is usually a difficult task.
Forty-five minutes passed, and she still had no idea where she was going. Carrying her lacrosse stick, people passing McDermott on the sidewalk shot her glances of amusement and confusion.
Lacrosse is not a popular sport in Spain.
Noticing McDermott’s lacrosse stick, a car on the road pulled over to the sidewalk and asked her if she was off to practice and needed a ride.
“I told myself, I don’t know these guys, but they have lacrosse sticks, so I said ‘OK’ and jumped in their car,” McDermott said.
Four minutes later, McDermott was finally home.
In front of her was a lit turf field with other lacrosse athletes hanging out, waiting for practice to begin.
Getting lost and eventually finding her way on this one particular night is just one example of McDermott’s several memorable experiences while playing lacrosse in Spain.
While the two could have easily taken the four months off, staying in shape and keeping their skills in check were critical if they wanted to perform at a high-level back at LMU in the spring. On top of these practical reasons, playing the sport cured the pair’s inevitable homesickness.
Hannah McDermott (bottom right) and Norwegian teammate Mimi Wikant (top right) pose after tournament in Cuenca, Spain, with the women’s club lacrosse team. The tournament took place in early December.
“Lacrosse was a part of LMU I could take with me to Spain,” Strachan said.
Along with attending an introductory clinic held in Madrid by Anna Sody, Germany’s national teams assistant coach, McDermott and Strachan attended weekly practices with the Madrid Lacrosse Club at European University of Madrid.
Though the team was composed of mostly native Spaniards, McDermott and Strachan also played with one girl from England and another from Norway.
McDermott immediately befriended her Norwegian teammate, Mimi Wikant. The two spent time together on and off the field in Madrid.
“Hannah really helped to raise the level of the game and the team. She has a way of spreading her motivation and love for the game to people around her,” Wikant said.
McDermott, Strachan, Wikant and other non-Spaniards quickly found out that the sport of lacrosse was just beginning to infiltrate the sports landscape of Madrid. Known for its propensity for soccer or fútbol as they call it across the pond, Spain currently only has three women club lacrosse teams and nine men’s club teams.
Playing with inexperienced players speaking different languages provided a challenge for both McDermott and Strachan.
“The language barrier was something I had to work around,” Strachan said. “The terminology for basic plays was different, I had to think and find other ways to communicate with the girls on the field.”
Strachan recalled how at the beginning of the clinic, cliques of the girls from Spain, Germany and America all formed.
“By the end of that day we were just all playing and practicing together with all those circles broken down,” Strachan said.
As a temporary member of the Madrid club, McDermott participated in the first organized tournament of its kind in Spain, bringing together the country’s women’s lacrosse clubs. McDermott and Wikant traveled with the club two hours east to Cuenca, Spain in early December.
The experience reminded McDermott of the sport’s beginning stages in Spain. The teams gathered for a meeting to explain the sport’s rules before the competitive play began. Additionally, players were swapped in between teams because some teams simply did not carry full rosters of players.
“The level of play our team and our opponents in Cuenca was [limited], but it’s always fun to play,” Wikant said. “Hannah did a great job at coaching everyone up.”
In the informal setting, McDermott appreciated her opportunity to experience a milestone accomplishment for the growth of lacrosse in Spain.
“Being from America and knowing the game for years, it was really awesome for me to see my Madrid teammates and the players we played against so stoked about this relatively new sport in Europe,” McDermott said.
To cap off her experience, McDermott traveled with her teammates to Bielefeld, Germany for a box lacrosse tournament, which is played indoors. While she vividly remembers the on the field action, the international environment caught her attention.
“It was cool hearing people yelling different things in different languages on and off the field,” McDermott said.
Lost at first, McDermott and Strachan eventually found another home on the lacrosse field in Madrid, despite being 5,827 miles away from Los Angeles.
“It was about stepping out of your comfort zone. Dealing and adapting to new situations,” McDermott said. “I loved it.”
Kevin Cacabelos, Asst. Sports Editor, Los Angeles Loyolan
For more: http://www.laloyolan.com/students-take-passion-for-lacrosse-abroad/article_9661b7f0-6b74-11e2-a3f8-001a4bcf6878.html