Does it matter?”
That has been Teagan Dunnett’s response when people question why she chooses to play box lacrosse on a boys’ team rather than with the girls.
Dunnett first began playing box lacrosse at age eight – following her best friend into the sport – and was immediately smitten with the sport.
“I just liked how physical it was, how fast it was,” she explained. Prior to her introduction to the sport known as the “fastest game on two feet”, Dunnett was involved in a pair of solo sports: karate and dance. “Lacrosse was definitely different than those.”
Two years ago, Dunnett approached the Langley Thunder about attending a tryout for the organization’s Junior Tier 1 team. The first question assistant general manager Ryan Williams – much like many others – had was why?
For Dunnett, it is all about the physicality, or more specifically, the lack of it in the girls’ game.
In girls’ box lacrosse in British Columbia, rules do not permit hitting. Instead, a ‘place and push’ rule has been adapted where defensive players may place their stick on the ball carrier and push them away.
“You can’t just go and blow somebody up,” Dunnett explained, adding that she’s not sure where her taste for physicality came from. “I guess that is just how I was wired.”
With no desire to play girls’ box lacrosse, Dunnett played her entire minor box lacrosse in Mission on boys’ teams, only playing on female box at nationals, representing B.C. from 2016 to 2019.
“She was just a player and she played really well,” Williams recalled about seeing a player with obvious talent and passion for the game.
Williams purposely did not tell the coaching staff or the other players that was a female was among the practice participants that day (she had short hair at the time which made her fit in seamlessly).
“The only thing we were conscious of was that we had a female trying to play B in this league, which we haven’t had yet, and that she be was going to be put in the right situation so there wouldn’t be an opportunity for failure.”
Fast-forward to earlier this season and Dunnett made her BC Junior Tier 1 Lacrosse League debut for the Thunder, becoming what is believed to be the first female lacrosse player to suit up in the league’s history.
And so far, Dunnett has made an instant impact: scoring the tying goal and then setting up the winner on May 10 and then setting up the winning goal the next night as Langley won their first two games of the season.
“Offensively, she is smart, she goes to the net, she runs a good two-person game, she gets underneath and goes to the dirty areas. She got hammered reaching for a loose ball but got right back up,” Williams said. “We went from getting her into the line-up that first game to the second game where guys were saying ‘she should be on the crease on the power play.’”
For her part, Dunnett was happy to be playing the sport she loves and to be able to make an immediate impact. She also credits the challenge of playing against males growing up in developing her stick skills, which in turn helped land her a spot on the women’s field lacrosse team at North Carolina’s University of Mount Olive, where she just completed her freshman season.
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