JamLax taking advantage of pandemic downtime
While Jamaica will have to wait a year before making its debut at the Women’s Lacrosse World Cup, head coach Karli Brentlinger says that she does not plan to waste the additional time gained to fully prepare for the event.
The tournament, which was scheduled to take place in the United States in July, was postponed to 2022 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Jamaica became the first Caribbean country ever to qualify for the tournament in 2019 when they placed third in the Pan American Championship.
Brentlinger said that because of the difficulty to assemble the team for training sessions, in addition to the travel challenges given that the majority of the coaching staff resides in the United States, the postponement of the tournament came at the right time for the programme to properly determine how to proceed.
“I think since the pandemic hit, it has been a really wild ride for everyone, specifically for us in the aspect of training,” Brentlinger said. “We thought about and tried to set a few things up, but we just felt like for the health and safety for all of our players, coaching staff and their families, it was best that we didn’t host any gatherings or training sessions, or open try-outs or anything like that. Once we heard that everything was postponed to 2022 it was sort of a blessing for us.”
Brentlinger said that plans to visit Jamaica to watch the finals of the high school championships were scrapped because of the pandemic.
She said that the focus has shifted towards the recruitment of players that she hopes will play an active part in the plans for 2022, with plans to incorporate players from their youth ranks, specifically those who participated in the Under-19 World Lacrosse Championships last year in Canada. Brentlinger said that time has also been spent helping young players transition to the college level.
“Several of them are actually playing college lacrosse in the US, so they have had some training and are currently playing,” she said. “And then the majority of our senior women’s team that competed in the Pan American Lacrosse Association Championships with us last November, they are US citizens working on getting Jamaican passports.
“Getting everyone together and really putting the best, most talented team, together is what we are looking to do as a coaching staff, but that can’t happen until we can have everyone training together, really seeing where our strengths and weaknesses lie as a unit.”
Brentlinger said that a timetable has not yet been determined regarding when training activities can commence. However, she said that she hopes to return to Jamaica at some point this year to resume activities with the under-19 groups who participated in last year’s high school championships. The finals were also cancelled last March because of the pandemic.