Only in New York!
Devon Wills became the first woman acquired by a Major League Lacrosse team last month. After going unselected in the 2014 MLL Supplemental Draft, the goalie was picked up in the players pool by the New York Lizards.
“It’s an incredible honor and I am looking forward to the challenge,” Wills told The Source. “However, in my mind, it isn’t about being the first woman, rather, it is taking hold of the opportunity to compete at the next level.”
A graduate of Dartmouth College, Wills, made the All-Ivy First Team three times and was also named All-American three times. Wills was selected by The Lizards, but will have to try out for a roster spot during tryouts in April. She’s excited for the opportunity. “I am focused on putting myself in the best position to be successful personally and to help the team be successful,” she said.
Though she has to tryout to make the active roster, she doesn’t think her gender will stand in her way. “I think I’ll be tested regardless if I was a man or a woman,” said Wills. “I respect the goalies who have been with the Lizards, as well as all the players within the league, and my tryout should not discredit what they have done since the origination of the league. Nothing about this will be easy. But I have to take it one shot at a time. If I am good enough to compete, that is great, but I will continue to be tested daily.”
Lizards owner Andrew Murstein is excited for the implications of Wills being on the team: “Lacrosse is already one of the fastest growing sports in the US and this will only further accelerate that growth,” he said. “Devon is a terrific young woman who is a great role model to female athletes everywhere.”
Wills currently ranks second at Dartmouth College’s all-time saves list with 538 career saves and a 7.14 goals against average. More recently, as goalkeeper, she also helped the U.S. national team win gold at two Federation of International Lacrosse World Cups. She’s also currently in her second season as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator at the University of Southern California. Before joining the Trojans, Wills spent two seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Denver.
The New York Lizards begin their season on April 27th at home at James M. Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, NY. They’ll matchup against the Rochester Rattlers. With Wills potentially making a roster spot on an all-male team, one may wonder: Has she figured out where she’ll change her clothes in the lockerroom? “We haven’t discussed that yet,” said Wills. “However, I am respectful of their space. At the end of the day it is about what I do on the field, the rest is just details.”
-Brandon Robinson ( @ScoopB )