Bec Lane Prepares to Take On the World

Hanover, Germany, 2011. The briefing session for coaches and managers of U19 women’s national lacrosse teams, preparing to compete in the 2011 FIL U19 Women’s World Championship, is getting heated. The German coach is protesting that if they had known they were allowed to play under-age players then they would have changed their team selection. (FIL had circulated a few months earlier a new rule for ‘young’ age players but this was not received by Australian Lacrosse Association) The Australian contingent are defending staunchly – frightened not just at the prospect of losing two players to ineligibility, but also at the fear of having to tell those two players that the previous eighteen months had been wasted. Eighteen months of running sessions, gym sessions and training camps. Eighteen months of structured preparation to compete at the highest level in your chosen sport. These two fourteen-year old girls, Ashtyn Hiron from W.A and Bec Lane from Victoria were oblivious to the goings on at this meeting. In fact, they learned nothing of the meeting until the tournament was complete. They eventually found out that the ALA took the punishment in the form of heavy fines which allowed them to compete.

 

Bec Lane in action for Australia (pic: Andrew Fithall via Bec Lane)

 

Forward to February 2015. Ashtyn Hiron, Bec Lane and Theo Kwas, also from Victoria but currently based in Maryland US playing college lacrosse, form a powerful triumvirate of players who have been selected for a second time to play at the U19 Women’s Lacrosse World Championship. These three, along with fifteen first-timers and two travelling alternates, are in the final months of preparation to compete in Edinburgh Scotland in July.

This is the story of Bec Lane – and it is not a simple story of playing in one World Championship and therefore being considered a shoe-in for selection at the next one. The road hasn’t been that smooth for Bec. Even the initial selection for the 2011 team came with some pain. Bec is the youngest of three Lane sisters who tried out for the team – all three made it through to the penultimate stage, but it was only Bec who was selected in the final team. Oldest sister Danielle was named as an alternate – these positions are in case of a pre-tournament injury. Middle sister Naomi missed out all-together. It is difficult to properly celebrate selection when you share a home with another family member who is disappointed in their own non-selection. (This writer can vouch for that having had the same experience with my own two daughters for the 2015 U19 Australian Women’s team.) But Bec was not a fringe selection, she was a key player for the Australian team which eventually lost the gold-medal game 14 – 11 to the USA. According to a couple of (partisan) observers Bec was unlucky not to be included in the all-world team named at the conclusion of the U19 World Championship.

 

Bec Lane competing at International level (Pic supplied by Andrew Fithall via Bec Lane)

 

Ten months later, Bec is in Adelaide representing Victoria at the 2012 ALA U18 Nationals. It is the first two minutes of the first game, against South Australia, and Bec has come off the circle after the centre draw, taken possession, and is heading for goal on a fast-break. With just one player between her and the goalie she steps left to fake the defender out, but instead of then moving right onto her preferred right-hand for the shot against the goalie, she is down in a screaming heap, her left-knee ACL having given way. That is the end of the tournament for Bec, and her last game of lacrosse for an extended period. She underwent a knee reconstruction – delayed because her preferred surgeon was unavailable with other commitments. She went through full rehabilitation, her playing hiatus extended because of the between-season break, and eventually returned at the 2014 ALA U18 Nationals just on two years later, in April 2014, this time in Bendigo Victoria.

There are a number of ways a teenage girl might celebrate her 18th birthday. It wasn’t really by choice, but Bec did so by taking some drugs. No – not the illegal recreational drugs or even the drugs that might draw unwanted attention from ASADA – these were pre-meds. On the day Bec Lane turned 18 in September 2014, she had her second knee re-construction. The re-injuring of the same knee had occurred in the last 2014 home-and away State League game, playing for Footscray against Newport. This time she was able to undergo the operation a bit quicker – just three weeks later. Part of the rush was because the 2015 U19 World Championship was just ten months away.

 

Bec Lane (pic: Andrew Fithall)

Creating space (pic: Andrew Fithall via Bec Lane).

 

Head Coach of the U19 Australian team is Trish Adams. Trish had also been coach in 2011 and is fully aware of Bec’s capabilities. In Trish’s own words:

Bec was broken when she called to tell me. I’ve never heard her like this. To be honest, I took a few minutes to compose myself. I felt her disappointment, frustration and uncertainty. Having worked so closely with Bec already, we share an honest and open relationship based on mutual respect. My immediate reaction, and one I haven’t ever regretted, was to offer her support. Whatever she needed, we would get her ready to compete. I guess I never assured her she would make it if she did the work, as I would never question if she would or wouldn’t. I just got her to a place where she believed she could. There was time to recover from this setback. With hard work and focus, she could get there.

Having been given the level of support she needed from her Australian coach, Bec was able to properly plan her comeback. The second-time rehabilitation was just as hard as the first, but this time she was missing out on all the U19 squad preparation. When the final team was named very early in 2015, Bec’s name was there.

Bec’s dedication is exemplified by her continued attendance at all the training sessions, becoming a de-facto support coach for the Victorian-based contingent of the squad, but all the time knowing that all she really wanted was to again become part of the playing group. She has been swimming and running and spending lots of time in the gym. Within the next week, she is to meet with her surgeon and hopes to get the go-ahead to return to the field and make a gradual re-entry to full training.

Two knee re-constructions can mean that it is not only a player’s confidence in themselves that is dented. Third parties also have a bit of doubt about a player’s currency. Below world championship level, the next highest level of competition for women’s lacrosse is the U.S college competition (NCAA). There is a steady trickle of Australian players to the NCAA system. The other two 2011/2015 repeat Australian players, Theo Kwas and Ashtyn Hiron, are both playing Division 1 college level. Bec had been concerned that her opportunity would be lost. But this part of the Bec Lane story is a happy one. Bec won’t be returning directly to Australia post the Edinburgh U19 World Championship. Instead, she will be heading to Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia on a student athletic scholarship. The satisfaction is evident in Bec’s quiet smile. But U.S college lacrosse is not Bec Lane’s focus just yet. Getting back into full training, getting back to full fitness and getting back as part of the U19 Australian team to not just compete in, but to win the U19 World Championship – that is the focus.

 

Pic courtesy of Andrew Fithall.

Setting up for attack (pic: Andrew Fithall via Bec Lane)

 

The U19 Australian Women’s Lacrosse Team is raising funds to go towards their significant costs of preparation for and participating in the U19 World Championship in Edinburgh Scotland.

As part of the fund-raising, they are conducting a crowd-funding campaign. Please contribute to this campaign by going to https://ozcrowd.com/campaigns/australian-u19-womens-lacrosse-team/#.VPFC8PmUeL0.

 

About Andrew Fithall

Probably the most rational, level-headed Collingwood supporter in existence. Not a lot of competition mind you.

Comments

  1. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    AF,
    terrific piece on a tough sport that gets too little coverage in Australia. Way to go Bec!

  2. Agree with Lord Bogan, a tough sport and the character of its competitors is noted. Good luck Bec.

  3. A great story, AF.
    Best luck to Bec and all the players!

    By the way, many non-lacrosse people would be surprised at the
    opportunities in American colleges.

  4. Andrew Fithall says:

    Thank-you for the feedback. I have also had a very good off-line response to this article – I should have been more encouraging of non-regulars to comment on the site, but it has been very heartening nonetheless. And the feedback to Bec herself is great. She is a fine young women highly respected across the lacrosse community.

  5. Good luck to her AF. Ripper story of resilience.

    Are they called the Lacrosse-aroos?

  6. Andrew Fithall says:

    Tonight (Tuesday 31 March), on 774 ABC Melbourne, Bec will be talking to Richelle Hunt. My daughter Audrey, who is in the team, will also be on.

    Listen in just after 9.00pm. If out-of-town, you can listen on-line at http://tunein.com/radio/774-ABC-Melbourne-s10113/

    AF

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