DARTMOUTH: The time had come for female lacrosse players in N.S. to have their own league.

That’s the sentiment from those involved in making the league become a reality and from a player of the sport from Fall River.

The new Jr A female lacrosse league will see young women play with three metro HRM area teams and one based out of Saint John, N.B., and operate under the East Coast Junior Lacrosse League (ECJLL). The league held their inaugural draft on March 21.

Halley James of Fall River said she’s excited to now have parity with the boys and a league to call their own.

“We’re going to be able to play until we’re 22 now in the league,” she said. “It gives the younger girls something to look forward too.”

While her friends are into volleyball, hockey, or other sports, James has found her niche and passion by holding a lacrosse stick and taking bumps from opposing players.

“It’s a great community, it’s fun,” said James.

James said it was great that the idea was received so well.

“It’s amazing how everyone helped to create this,” said James. “I’m glad I get to be one of the first players to go through the league.”

Brendon Smithson, ECJLL president, said the idea came about from a group of Canada Games parents hoping to create an opportunity for female lacrosse to operate within the ECJLL. He said the ECJLL provides an elite experience to players, coaches, and fans.

“As female lacrosse has continued to grow within the province, Canada Games teams and support from the community it was time to expand the opportunities within the league to a female decision,” said Smithson.

The four teams are – the Eastern Shore Breakers; the Wolves; Halifax Hurricanes; and Saint John Rapids. A lot of the female players could potentially represent their respective provinces at the upcoming 2022 Canada Games.

At the recently held Sirens Lacrosse camp during March Break at the RBC Centre in Dartmouth Crossing, there were more than 40 girls between 8-13-years-old at the younger age participating on this day.

“The future is bright for girls lacrosse,” James said.

Catherine Martin said girls have been playing at a much younger age, and they get skills so much more.

“The boys had the junior a league, so bringing the female league into the same realm legitimize it and made them kept going,” she said.

She said it wouldn’t be possible without the all-female board and volunteers that are involved.

“It’s really exciting,” she said. “It was time. This is really going to be an exciting year coming out of the pandemic.”

Cory Martin, the GM of the Wolves female lacrosse team, said the timing was perfect for the league to start.

“A lot of these girls started playing very young and at a time when it was a boys league,” he said. “It’s great that we can give them the experience as they finish their careers as they are the ones that have built the girls game.”

James had a message for younger girls out there thinking they should join up to play with a lacrosse team.

“It’s growing and we need more players so we can continue to grow and have multiple teams,” said James.

Smithson said getting a league started for female lacrosse is a “massive step.”

“It not only increases the opportunities for female athletes with the sport but also will create a new path for female athletes that are looking to compete in lacrosse.,” said Smithson.

“It’s important for future players to see themselves within their stars and players and this will be the first-time females will be able to see many female athletes within the Jr A lacrosse ranks.”

The new ECJLL female league with the four teams between Metro HRM and Saint John will begin in May.

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