As Luck Would Have It
Japan trip strengthens women’s lacrosse team for 2011 season
No four-leaf clover or horseshoe is required. The women’s lacrosse team found its good luck charm—a daruma—during a 10-day trip to Japan in June. The Japanese figure now sits in the team’s locker room.
“You set a goal or make a wish on the daruma and color in one of the eyes,” said Jen Adams, head coach. The team’s wish is simple enough: a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
“When you achieve your goal, you can color in the other eye to seal the wish and accomplishments,” Adams said.
Even if the Japanese figurine doesn’t bring the team luck, Adams and the players say the extraordinary travel experience and international lacrosse competition bolstered the bonds among teammates—and the recent alumni who joined them on the trip—and gave them new perspectives as athletes and as individuals. Lacrosse is increasingly popular in Japan, which served as host to the International Friendship and Freedom Games in June.
When the Loyola women’s team took the field in Edogawa City, the women found themselves playing in front of more than 6,500 fans and television crews. That day they played on a grass field—rare in Japan, especially for lacrosse—and won every game, including defeating the Japanese national team. The day before they had played on sticky volcanic ash—much different from the synthetic turf at the Ridley Athletic Complex.
“We played really well,” said Cara Filippelli, ’11, a midfielder who is staying in touch with her Japanese home-stay family through Facebook. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. When you become that much closer as a team, the chemistry is better, and it definitely transfers over to the field.”
The Loyola and Japanese players learned from each other, said Filippelli, a speech-language pathology major from King of Prussia, Pa.
“The women were in really, really good shape. All of them were really, really fast. We’re huffing and puffing on the field and they’re running circles around us. And their work ethic—they’re hustling all over the place,” Filippelli said. “But their stickwork wasn’t as advanced. That’s half of why we went over there, to teach and to show how lacrosse has evolved over here. A lot of them picked it up really quickly—the stick tricks and the stuff that they have never seen before.”
During the trip, the players tried their hands at calligraphy and glassblowing, experienced a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, went snorkeling and kayaking, and tasted new foods.
“It was a real eye opener and a real team bonding experience for them to be in a foreign country where they struggled to speak the language. It gave them an understanding of the similarities they all still share,” Adams said. “It was neat to get them out of their comfort zone as a group.”
After traveling to the Big East tournament last season, the Greyhounds team hopes to go even further this spring. The memories of the team’s Japan trip are fresh in their minds and, as the players prepare for the season, the daruma is poised in the locker room at the Ridley Athletic Complex.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to draw the other eyeball on,” Adams said.