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Ms. Lasda to Coach Latvian Women’s National Lacrosse Team in World Championships at Towson

Team facts:
            The Latvian National Women’s Lacrosse team was founded in 2011. Since then, the team has competed in 2 World Cup Championships (2013 – Oshawa Canada; 2017 – Guildford, England) and three European Championships (2012 – Amsterdam, Netherlands; 2015 – Prague, Czech Republic; 2019 – Netanya, Israel).
            Most recently, in 2019, the team finished the European Championships with a 9th place ranking securing an invitation to the 2022 (formally 2021) World Cup.
            Team Latvia is the smallest of the competing countries, but what we lack in size (population… certainly not height! Fun fact: The average height of a Latvian women is close to 5’7”, earning them the designation as one of the tallest nations in the world! ) we gain in pride. This team is made up of strong, dedicated, resilient women who share not only a love for lacrosse, but also the honor to represent Latvia. Come see Team Latvia during their warm ups and you will notice a very special word embodying all that the team is and all that they represent.
            For a full timeline of the team’s progress and results, click here.
            The roster for the 2022 World Championship will consist of 18 players plus 2 practice players. Meet the team here.
Lasda’s Latvian background:
            As a child, I grew up knowing I was Latvian but I never truly understood what that meant. Latvia and the plentiful culture that is inherent to it was something far beyond my grasp. I didn’t even realize my grandmother had a thick Latvian accent when she spoke English until one of my friends pointed it out. To me, that was just the way Nanny talked. Sure it was a little different but it was also so beautiful and unique that I didn’t think twice of it.
            Fast forward a decade or so and I am able to grasp that Nanny was in fact a Latvian who traveled to the United States with her husband, who happened to be an American born Latvian soldier, to escape a war-torn European nation constantly under occupation from one country or the next. These times and circumstances are almost unimaginable to me and understandably so, Nanny did not frequently talk about them. She was proud to be Latvian. She celebrated her culture through music and dance but Nanny wanted to Americanize; shield her family from the pain and hardship of living under occupation and move forward to a new future.
            Fast forward another few years. With Nanny passing, the Latvian culture for the Lasda’s was on the verge of disappearing. It was in 2013 that my sister, Gretchen, caught wind of the Latvian Lacrosse team entering into the World Cup in Canada for the first time. Being no stranger to large scale events, she offered to help the team with any coordinating details or logistics they may need as a liaison. The Latvian Lacrosse Federation said, that is a very kind offer but in fact we would really like you to coach instead. Gretchen reminded them that no, she doesn’t coach anymore and can just assist them on this side of the details. However, in a typically resilient Latvian way, the Federation would not accept no for an answer. In 2013 Gretchen took a trip to Latvia and for the very first time since Nanny escaped the war, a Lasda was again on Latvian soil.
            After that initial visit, it was clear that this would be a major part of our lives. Both Gretchen and I played (for the first time together on the same team) and coached in the 2013 World Cup. Since then, Gretchen has remained the head coach. I have played up through the 2019 European championships and coached alongside Gretchen. We now make it a habit to visit Latvia at least once a summer to work with the team. These visits that once seemed like such a distant relation have now become a second home.
            I am beyond grateful for the doors that lacrosse has opened for me in order to have this experience. Gretchen and I (and now along with our three cousins) have reconnected with a culture and a heritage that almost became too faded to recognize. We have hugged distant relatives that Nanny only spoke of or wrote to. We have walked the same streets where Nanny lived. We have been welcomed into the same culture that she grew up in. Most importantly, we have experienced the same tremendous love for Latvia that will forever live in our hearts. I am so proud and honored to represent my Latvian heritage in such a special way.
            The need for fundraising is pivotal for the team’s journey to Towson. The Latvian government and the Latvia Lacrosse Federation provide a partial grant, however this only covers 35% of the total coast to travel and play in the World Championships. Fundraising Page: https://gofund.me/e4c997b8
The remainder of the financial burden is placed one each individual player. Any donation to lessen the large financial responsibility is greatly appreciated. Your donation helps the team pay for field rentals in Latvia for pre-tournament practices and training camps, airfare to USA, lodging and meals at World Championships, tournament participation fees, training and medical supplies, as well as necessary equipment and uniforms.
Thank you for supporting us on our road to Towson. We hope to see you in the stands, but if not don’t forget to wear your maroon with pride and message us a picture!
Latvia FAQ:
  • What is “a Latvia”?
    • Latvia is a small European country considered one of the “Baltics” along with Estonia and Lithuania.
  • What language do they speak in Latvia?
    • The official language of Latvia is none other than…. Latvian! Although one of the most ancient languages, Latvian is unlike any other language. It is without roots to common Germanic or Indo-European languages. However, if traveling to Latvia, you can commonly hear not only Latvian, but English, Russian, Ukrainian, as well as Lithuanian or Estonian.
  • Where is Latvia Located?
    • Latvia is an Eastern European country located on the Baltic Sea. The northern border is shared with Estonia, to the east is Russia, the South borders primarily Lithuania but also Belarus, with the Baltic Sea to the West. For a map, click here.
  • What is the Capital of Latvia?
    • The capital of Latvia is Riga, a lovely city located on the Daugava River where it meets the Baltic Sea. Riga holds onto a rich history and culture in the city’s Old Town as well as a modern metropolis.
  • What is Latvia’s history?
    • This is not a simple question. The Baltic people are thought to have inhabited what is modern day Latvia as early as 3000 BC. Since then, the history has been tumultuous. Various nations claimed Latvia as their own but the only things that ever held steady were Latvian pride and culture. Finally in 1991, Latvia officially claimed its independence from the Soviet Union to establish the modern day country of Latvia. For a more detailed synopsis of the history, click here.
  • How many people live in Latvia?
    • There are currently about 1.9 million people in Latvia. This is similar to the population of Nebraska or Idaho. If Latvia were a state in the US, it would be the 15th smallest state by population.
  • What is Latvia known for?
    • Latvia is among the world’s greenest countries. The landscape of Latvia includes white sand beaches, rivers, lakes, and thick birch forests. In fact, Latvia is often referred to as the land of 12,000 rivers. Latvia also boasts Europe’s widest waterfall as Ventas Rumba (817 feet wide). In addition to the natural beauty, Latvia also has its’ fair share of castles, churches, cathedrals, and palaces. The capital city of Riga holds a central Market in old hangars where Zeppelins were once stored. You can find just about anything at this market, from fresh flowers and berries, to cured meats and cheeses, to new shoes and trinket toys!
Social Media:
Follow us!
Instagram: @lat_wlax
Facebook: Latvian National Women’s Lacrosse Team / Latvijas sieviesu Lakrosa izlase
Tournament facts:
            The Women’s World Championship (formally World Cup) is the highest level of competition between nations on the worldwide platform. During 10 days in July, the best female lacrosse players in the world will congregate in Towson, Maryland to compete for the title of World Champions. Since the inaugural games in 1982, there have been 7 different host countries. This year will boast the most countries in competition with 30 member nations qualifying.
The official tournament website can be found here.
            The 2022 Lacrosse World Championships will feature 30 teams. A complete list of countries competing is available here.
            Tickets are currently on sale for the full event (valid 6/29-7/9) including opening and closing ceremonies plus over 100 games for $130. Single day tickets are available for $19.95 which can include up to 12 games per day. Group rates are also available. For more information on tickets, click here.

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Tel. 732.542.4777

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