By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
Kaitlynn Anderson is playing a major role in leading the way for women’s lacrosse in Manitoba.
As the first girl in Manitoba to attend a D1 college in Massachusetts in lacrosse, she has a lot of exciting things on the horizon from now until then, including aspiring to make a memorable debut with Team Manitoba in Niagara next summer.
The Drive Behind the Athlete
“Lacrosse is not like any other sport I’ve ever played. Compared to all the other sports, like basketball, hockey… it’s totally different. It is the fastest game on two feet,” said Kaitlynn. “You need to see the court, feel the court, you need to know plays before they even happen. You have to have really good communication.”
A skilled athlete like Kaitlynn, you might assume she took to the sport right away as soon as she picked up a stick at eight years old.
But it took time. And she was committed to improving her game.
“I was not very good – I didn’t know how to pass, shoot, catch, or anything like that. So I started going to these camps all the time and started getting better,” said Kaitlynn.
That passion and drive is what propelled her forward, where she learned as much as she could and developed as an athlete through practice and watching lacrosse YouTube videos.
“From there, I started getting into the clubs and I started playing with the guys, because there’s no women’s lacrosse here.”
Kaitlynn started playing with the Winnipeg Wolverines and Gryphons Lacrosse, made the Team Manitoba men’s team for the 2018 national box lacrosse championships, and eventually began playing high school lacrosse.
When she got involved with a field lacrosse team in Edmonton in 2019, it was her first time playing on a women’s team.
“I started playing with them and it was a whole different experience,” said Kaitlynn. “I’ve never played women’s lacrosse before.”
When that team traveled to the US for a tournament, a realization hit her that this was definitely a path she wanted to pursue.
“While I was down there in Palm Springs, I knew that I was able to do this. I wanted to do this as another part of my future,” said Kaitlynn.
Women & Girls in Lacrosse
Right now, Kaitlynn’s focus is on Team Manitoba at the 2022 Canada Summer Games, including promoting the girls team and supporting women and girls in sport.
“This is our national sport for Canada. It’s our summer sport, and I think it’s very important that people get involved and learn the culture about lacrosse,” said Kaitlynn.
“I really want something to happen for girls here. That’s what I’ve been trying to do this whole time. I know that there are other girls out there who are able to do what I’m doing, and I want them to see that and believe in themselves. Because what you put your mind to, you can do it.”
Canada Summer Games: ‘A Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity’
Team Manitoba, which started out at 5 girls and is currently at about 30, will be the first to represent Manitoba.
“We don’t know what we’re competing against,” said Kaitlynn. “We’ve never been in this situation before. It’s an amazing opportunity that we’re able to go do this. That’s why I also feel like girls should be involved. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and the fact that we’re going out there as a group — nobody else is going to really have this opportunity that we’re getting. We’re going to be the first. And that’s amazing. I feel like being a part of that is outstanding.”
When she thinks about the first time they’ll walk out on the court, she’s filled with a rush of emotion.
“I feel like it’s going to be overwhelming. I’ve been to nationals. But this is not going to be like nationals, this is like almost compared to the Olympics for us. All the fans are going to be going crazy, the parents are going to be super supportive, everyone’s going to be super hyped and want to get out there and play.”
In Niagara, box lacrosse will be played at Canada Games Park, on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg, Ojibway/Chippewa and Haudenosaunee peoples.
What the Future Holds
Kaitlynn is currently training with two camps: Legends Lacrosse and Team Manitoba.
When school starts this September, she’ll continue to put her energy towards Team Toba and play high school and club field lacrosse, and travel to Palm Springs again with her Edmonton team, North Strong Lacrosse, in January.
As the Canada Summer Games approach next spring, the adrenaline is sure to kick in.
“That’s when we’re really going to be pushing it, making sure we’re going super hard, and putting everything into it,” said Kaitlynn.
After the games, she’s off on a whole new adventure.
“I’m going off to college for a D1 school at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. That is, honestly, an amazing opportunity for me, because I’m the first girl in Manitoba to go D1 lacrosse. Not only that, I’m going to be the first Canadian to be on [the] Massachusetts Lowell team.”
At Sport Manitoba, we’ll be cheering Kaitlynn on throughout her journey this year, and wish her all the best in these exciting next steps!
Photo credits: Manitoba Lacrosse and Robyn Grehan.