2017 FIL Development Award recipients from right to left: Scott Neiss, Jess Evans, Sarah Lin and Storm Trentham.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK, N.Y.—Four members of the international lacrosse community have been named recipients of this year’s Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Development Awards.
The awards are given annually to those who have provided outstanding efforts in promoting the sport of lacrosse around the world.
This year’s recipients are: Jess Evans, of New Zealand; Sarah Lin, of Taiwan; Scott Neiss, of Israel; and Storm Trentham, of Wales. They were honored at halftime of the Gold Medal Game of the Women’s Lacrosse World Cup on Saturday, July 22, in Guildford, England.
Jess Evans was born in the UK and started playing lacrosse at St. Helen’s, Northwood, when she was 12. After one hour on the field, and a few injured girls later, Jess was moved into goal where, according to Evans, her teachers believed she could do the least harm. There she stayed, eventually representing Junior England and Wales U21.
In 2002 Evans moved to New Zealand. She saw an advertisement for a lacrosse league in the local Auckland newspaper and made a call. When she arrived at her first training she met Philippa Cowper, with whom she had played lacrosse at St. Helen’s 15 years earlier. They renewed a friendship that would become important to the development of lacrosse in New Zealand.
Lacrosse was only a couple of years old in New Zealand when Evans arrived, and was being developed at a school level by two UK expats, Ronnie Cole and Suzanne Wolton, with sticks and equipment donated by their contacts in England.
Evans became junior development officer for the New Zealand Women’s Lacrosse Association (NZWLA) in 2004. In 2005, with much help from Collette Amai, girls lacrosse was sanctioned by College Sport, the secondary school governing body for sport in Auckland.
In 2005, Evans and Cowper, with help from Australia’s Paul Mollison and Shelley Maher, began developing a team of 15 players and three coaches that was ready for the U19 World Championships in 2007 in Canada. New Zealand has competed in the last three U19 World Championship, leaping from 11th to 5th at the 2015 event in Edinburgh.
Despite an ongoing shortage of coaches, umpires and volunteers, New Zealand still manages to support 58 girls school teams.
Sarah Lin became involved in lacrosse through her son, Scott Yang, his friend, Cosmo Wei, and Cosmo’s father, Chris. Together they created and developed the Taiwan Lacrosse Association (TWLA).
Lin’s dedication, since 2014, to spread lacrosse in Taiwan has helped build a successful model, one for other countries in the region to follow. Within two years, the number of players, from age 12-21, grew from zero to 100 in three provinces.
Lacrosse has been gaining steady recognition in Taiwan largely through Sarah’s efforts to encourage schools and universities to adopt the sport.
Lin says she believes training homegrown players and maintaining an environment in which they are encouraged to play continuously is crucial to building Taiwan lacrosse. An annual interschool championship keeps students motivated to train, while regional representative teams provide higher levels of training. Players even get chances to represent Taiwan in international events such as the 2016 U19 Men’s World Tournament in the Coquitlam, British Columbia.
Education is the most important value of TWLA, Lin says. Many students from unprivileged areas are given opportunities to advance further in society, from full college scholarships to coaching, training, and even staff development for TWLA. All of this allows students to acquire lifelong skills through their involvement with lacrosse.
Scott Neiss co-founded the Israel Lacrosse Association in 2010. Under his leadership, the program has grown into a competitive full member of the FIL.
Israel has experienced much recent success in the international arena, placing second in the 2016 European Championship, seventh in the 2014 World Championship and winning gold at the inaugural European Box Lacrosse Championships in Turku, Finland on Saturday, 15 July 2017.
Israeli teams have competed in every Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) and European Lacrosse Federation (ELF) event since its debut in 2012.
Most striking are the demographics of the lacrosse community in Israel, the result of Neiss’s and his team’s philosophy to keep the sport affordable for all Israelis. Most of the major hotbeds of the sport are in periphery cities and developmental towns on Israel’s southern border near the Gaza strip. Neiss, who serves as men’s vice president of the European Lacrosse Federation, also led efforts to keep the upcoming 2018 FIL Men’s World Lacrosse Championships in the region, sourcing affordable housing and first-class facilities in Israel during a compressed bid process for the sport’s preeminent event.
Storm Trentham has enjoyed success as an international player, coach and manager. During her international career with Wales she won more than 40 international caps and two European gold medals.
Trentham was the U19 Wales manager at the 2007 World Cup and subsequently head coach for the 2011 and 2015 World Cups. The success at these competitions saw the Welsh team promoted to the top five in the world.
She was recognized for her achievements with an FIL International Heart of Lacrosse Award at the 2015 World Championships.
On the domestic scene, Trentham coached The Godolphin School to four national schools titles in six years, with eight students going on to represent their country at an U19 World Championships in 2011. Two of those are World Cup players. Most recently she managed Exeter University to its first British Universities final after successfully winning the league (13-2).
Not one to rest, Trentham has turned her talents to an ambitious project in Africa where she is determined to equip, train and qualify the U19 Kenyan national team for the 2019 World Championships. As head coach of Kenya Lacrosse, she is hoping to lead the first African team to represent the women’s game on the world stage. Completion of this achievement will see her reach her ultimate goal – that of qualifying lacrosse as an Olympic sport.