DURHAM, N.C. – In just a few weeks’ time, former Blue Devil attacker Emma Lazaroff will head to Guildford, England along with Israel Lacrosse to compete in the 2017 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Rathbones Women’s World Cup.
GoDuke.com recently caught up with the 2016 Duke graduate to learn more about Lazaroff’s travels and training leading up to the World Cup, which is slated for July 12-22 at the Surrey Sports Park in Guildford, Surrey. Lazaroff and Team Israel will compete in Pool C along with the Netherlands, Czech Republic, China and Belgium.
Two other Blue Devils will also be on the field in Guildford, as 2011 graduate Sarah Bullard will captain Team USA and 2015 graduate Kerrin Maurer will play for Team Italy.
GoDuke.com: How did you first get connected with Israel Lacrosse?
Emma Lazaroff: I first joined Israel lacrosse three years ago as an intern in Ashkelon, Israel. I traveled around Israel teaching and growing the game to as many schools as possible. It was one of the hardest, most rewarding experiences I have ever had. I spoke zero Hebrew and was trying to introduce a sport that was known by barely anyone in this country. However, the kids picked it up so quickly; they fell in love with learning about the game and rules and it made the long, hard days of coaching with a language barrier completely worth it. When I heard about the World Cup this summer and that Israel was going to be competing, I immediately knew that I wanted to head back to Israel to try and compete for a spot on their national team.
GoDuke.com: How has it been to continue your lacrosse career at the international level, especially while balancing other aspects of your post-Duke life?
EL: Playing at the international level has been amazing. It's very different than college lacrosse because we can't train every day together for three hours as we all live across the world. We have had two training weekends In New York as a team and we are now all currently living in Israel training together until the World Cup on July 12th. I was lucky enough that I had this entire year off from undergraduate ending in 2016 to dental school starting in August 2017, so I have been able to devote almost every day to training for the games (with a couple vacation trips in between as you've probably seen on my Instagram pictures).
GoDuke.com: What was the tryout process like for the national team and what has your training schedule been like since then?
EL: For tryouts we all flew to Israel last summer in July. It was a four-day, intense, hot tryout in the heat of the Israeli desert. The team was cut down to 25 and then we had another tryout in New York in which the team was cut down to 18 girls that will all travel to London for the World Cup. Our training now consists of a workout packet with running, lifting and footwork, similar to a winter or summer workout packet from Duke. Now we will all be living together doing team bonding and training in Israel together until we head off to London!
GoDuke.com: Can you explain the fundraising aspect of Israel Lacrosse?
EL: Israel Lacrosse is completely run and operated on donations – it’s a 503c charity. From the gear to the living situations, everything is from donors or supporters. Fundraising was a huge part of being able to play in Europe this summer. As you can imagine with a new program there's a lot of expenses. Also the majority of the fundraising money we raised went to a program called Sticks for Kids. Israel lacrosse doesn't turn anyone away that wants to learn the sport so we use this money to give scholarships to families in need to participate or for the expensive gear that comes along with playing lacrosse.
GoDuke.com: What aspects of your collegiate career at Duke prepared you to play at this level?
EL: Playing at Duke, I played with some of the best players in the nation every single day at practice ; that made me so much better and grow as a player and teammate over my four years. We also had a very tough schedule which gave me exposure to amazing lacrosse players, some of which I'll be competing against at the World Cup. Playing at such a high caliber school prepared me for the competition and level of play that I'm going to see in London this summer.
GoDuke.com: What does it mean to you to represent Israel in the World Cup, and to have two other Duke alumnae also participating for other teams?
EL: In Israel, women in sports is almost unheard of. By being a part of the national team here we are teaching and showing young girls that it is important to be involved in athletics and women should be able to compete in sports, just as men. It's a huge honor to represent that when I put on an Israeli jersey. I never thought I'd have to play against my Duke teammates. I definitely would rather them be playing with me, but I love that we are all able to represent Duke at the international level for three different countries.
GoDuke.com: What are you most looking forward to about this experience?
EL: I think I'm the most excited to represent Israel. I have been able to connect a lot with my heritage and culture. I never thought I would be able to play after college and now to represent an entire country is pretty surreal. It’s also exciting to be one of the pioneer players in the program which we hope within the next couple of years will be a completely native-born Israeli roster.