Progression in girls’ aggression!


Courtesy of Lia Federico

Senior members of the Northwest High School Girls Lacrosse Team for 2023

Daniela White, Reporter

Lacrosse is the official team sport of Maryland.  U.S. News and World Reports put Maryland at the top of their list for gender equality.  Yet, in the official team sport for the most equitable State in The Union, women are still not allowed to put on protective pads, smack each other with sticks, or wear shorts. While one can go on and on about the differences between the two types of lacrosse, making controversial opinions about the level of difficulty for each version, one has to wonder why girls and women who play lacrosse still must wear form-fitting tank tops and short skirts, and how boys and men, on the other hand, wear loose-fitting jerseys that cover their padding accompanied with baggy shorts. One has to wonder why even now, as women and men grow closer and closer to being equal in athletics,

The sexualization of women’s sports has gone on for decades, but one of the main reasons we keep the skirts is based on the years of history wearing them. The skirts, more formally known as “kilts,” were created for many reasons with either the male gaze in mind or for feminizing the sport, but as time went on, girls and women in lacrosse have reclaimed the juncture of the skirts.

When playing lacrosse, women are restricted to many things. They are not allowed to get called into Shooting Space- meaning they cannot step in the attacker’s line of shooting or block a shot with their body. They cannot check the stick from behind a player or in their “personal sphere” of contact; instead, they must be able to stay in line with the attacker and move quickly enough to check their stick safely from beside or at an angle in front of them. 

Athletes on the Girls’ Varsity Lacrosse Team have many opinions to share regarding the fact that boys’ lacrosse is allowed to have more physical contact than girls’ lacrosse.  When asked if it seemed fair to her that boys can have more physical contact than girls, senior, and Captain, Allie Hannum said, “I think it’s stupid. I think that it should be the same rules. I think that both teams should have physical contact. I think that the restraints against physical contact in girls’ lacrosse are excessive and unnecessary, and it’s just weird.” 

Hannum has been playing lacrosse for four years at Northwest, and for three out of those four years, she has been playing on Varsity. Last year she led the team in goals and currently presents great leadership on the field. Other players on the Northwest Girls Varsity Lacrosse team had similar opinions on the topic at hand. 

Senior Caitlin Soboslay adds that having less contact in girls’ lacrosse makes her “furious.” She continues that it’s unfair when boys can fight as hard as they want for the ball and get off easy, but when girls do it they get a red card. Another senior on the team, Kaitlin Lynch, also remarks that she’s “a little bit jealous” of the fact that boys’ lacrosse has fewer rules for physical contact and wishes “girls’ [lacrosse] had the same rules sometimes,” then adds, “But also not because it’s dangerous,” the defender concludes, recalling an injury she suffered her sophomore year of high school lacrosse due to an athlete on the other team committing a Charge against Lynch. 

Sophomore Kaitlyn Duncan adds to the fire as she maintains “it’s dumb” for boys to have more physical contact and that she thinks, “Girls should be able to have the same rules as boys, especially because they’re pushing the rules even further. Like I know that down the road, girls are gonna be forced to wear helmets but it’s still deemed as a non-contact sport, which I just don’t understand why we couldn’t have the same rules ‘cause it’s the same sport.”

Switching to the topic of girls’ lacrosse skirts, the members of the Northwest Girls Lacrosse team share their opinions about wearing them in games. 

Duncan reveals that she personally likes wearing skirts and thinks they are “fun” and look good with the uniform. Lynch agrees with Duncan on this topic as she expresses, “I really like them! I really like them, and I miss them.” This is the second year in Northwest High School history that a girls’ lacrosse team is wearing shorts as a part of their uniform, while Northwest Girls’ JV Lacrosse and other girls’ lacrosse teams in Montgomery County continue to wear skirts. 

Hannum, however, continuing this discussion, adds, “It doesn’t make a difference between shorts and skirts to me…I think, whatever people are most comfortable with, at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter to me. I think both shorts and skirts are good. I’ve played with both and it doesn’t make a difference to me.” 

Soboslay divulges the topic of skirts as well and says, “I have a love-hate relationship with wearing skirts. I do think it looks cute for pictures but I would not want to play in a skirt because I don’t feel malleable.”

Northwest Girls Varsity Lacrosse Coach, Allison Boyle, adds to this discussion, saying,  “I always wore them [skirts] when I played and I always associated lacrosse with skirts, so I don’t ever have a problem with it, but I mean I think it’s whatever. As sports evolve, it’s whatever people are comfortable with.” This will be Boyle’s third year coaching the girls’ lacrosse team, and with each year she’s been coaching, the level of play and execution has only been going up. 

It is already known by this point that there are inequalities in girls’ and boys’ lacrosse, so when asked what inequalities there were, Hannum said, “I think there’s more support around boys’ lacrosse, and all boys’ sports in general, in comparison to girls’ sports. And…in terms of rules, boys can get away with a lot more based on the rules of the two different sports because they’re allowed to have more contact.”

Having this be her sixth year of playing lacrosse, and a second year playing for Northwest, Kaitlyn Duncan had more to say to this as she mentioned that when she was first learning how to play lacrosse, it was all boys’ lacrosse she saw being advertised. She mentions, “I think that there is a really weird stigma around it that boys’ lacrosse is better than girls’ lacrosse because of the physical contact, which I think is not right…I think girls’ lacrosse does have contact but it’s a much more technical sort of contact and I think there are just a lot more rules that boys don’t necessarily have to pay attention to or think about.”

Soboslay, a prominent attacker on the lacrosse team, adds that she thinks, “Boys’ [lacrosse] get[s] more attention and funding than girls when girls train just as hard and have a lot of skill.” Soboslay also mentions that communication plays a big role, saying, “You can’t just go after someone and hit them with your stick. You have to communicate the best ways to defend and it’s very strategic. So I think girls’ lacrosse deserves more attention.” 

As years go on, the bridge between girls’ and boys’ sports narrows by the second. Now women all around the world in athletics are working towards equal pay for the equal amount of effort they put into their sports, and girls all around the world are able to have female role models in the ever-changing world of athletics.