Women’s Pro Lacrosse, Philly Style
The Women’s Professional Lacrosse League kicked off it’s six week inaugural regular season last weekend. The league will also hold a semi-final play-off round on July 12, and a Championship game on July 14.
The WPLL is comprised of five teams, the New York Fight, the Upstate Pride, the New England Command, the Baltimore Brave, and the Philadelphia Fire. The Fire dropped their first game of the season to the Baltimore squad at the Naval Academy on the 2nd by a score of. This week, the Fire will play at their home field at West Chester University against the Upstate Pride with the face off scheduled for noon Saturday.
According to the their website the WPLL and the WPLL Foundation are planning to strive to make an impact with younger female athletes. They have developed partnerships “to create a nationwide lacrosse development program that will focus as much on lacrosse as it will on character and leadership. These skills will serve these young women long after their lacrosse careers have ended. We have the opportunity to harness the potential of a generation of lacrosse players to become a generation of high-impact leaders.”
In their mission statement the league further explains that they are concerned about more than goal scoring or checking.“The WPLL is a two-part operation: it is both a professional lacrosse league and a development program for the rising talent in our sport. We will prioritize character development as a means to excelling in life on and off of the field. We will provide training for professional and personal development, which includes training for lacrosse, fitness, non-cognitive skills, leadership and even personal branding. The WPLL and our programs are designed to support the growth of girls and women to excel in life, which includes encouraging their dreams, supporting their pursuit of them and fostering an environment in which they can practice creativity and innovation. In short, teaching how life skills can be learned during lacrosse team participation–such as all-important interpersonal / emotional intelligence competencies.”
It is an ambitious undertaking, and the financial aspect is not the least of the issues that the WPLL, like any other pro league, will have to resolve. But there may be some good news there, when you look at the revenue generated by lacrosse at the college level. According to Forbes magazine “Of the 34 sports that report revenue data, only six other sports in women’s college sports generated more revenue than lacrosse. In addition, only seven men’s college sports (out of 32 sports) generated more revenue than women’s lacrosse; and one of those seven is not men’s lacrosse (men’s college lacrosse only reported $140.6 million in revenue in 2016-17).” Combined with the fact that the WPPL has located it’s franchises in areas with a rich lacrosse tradition, bodes well for the fledgling league.
The players, as in the WNBA and NWHL, are thrilled to continue playing lacrosse at the highest level. Philadelphia Fire defender Holly Reilly starred at Princeton University, and was a two time Lacrosse World Cup gold medalist with Team USA. At the time of this spring’s first ever collegiate draft she tweeted, “Can’t wait to see who else joins the league! So honored to play for Philly Fire and compete on field with amazing women and build community off season with amazing women.”
Among several local lax stars now playing in the WPLL are two former Ivy League teammates from the University of Pennsylvania, who were high school teammates prior to that. They are former Ivy League attacker of the year Tory Benson who plays for the Philadelphia Fire, and ex-All-Ivy goalie Emily Leitner who now tends net for the New England Command.