Woman Looks to Break All-Male Barrier in Lacrosse

Devon Wills gets a shot at the pros during a one-day tryout scheduled for this weekend

Goalie Devon Wills might soon be in a league of her own.

To those in the know, Wills is a brick wall. A former All-Ivy League lacrosse player at Dartmouth, the current assistant coach of the University of Southern California women’s lacrosse team is a two-time Lacrosse World Cup champion and widely regarded as the best female lacrosse goalie in the world.

Come next week, you might know her as one of the few female athletes to break sport’s gender barrier.

Ranked second in career saves at Dartmouth, Wills was claimed by the New York Lizards of the Major Lacrosse League in December 2013 and invited to the team’s 2014 training camp.

If all goes well, the Team USA goalie would become the first female professional lacrosse player in the all-male MLL.

“The media attention about the gender issues of it was more than I thought was going to happen,” said Wills in an interview with NBC4’s Mario Solis. “And maybe that was me being a little naïve but at the same time, I just want to play lacrosse.”

Originally slated to attend Lizards’ training camp over three weekends in April, Wills was thought to have ample time to impress her prospective new coaches. However, Wills’ responsibilities as a defensive coordinator at USC will cut her professional tryout to just one day.

Despite the shortened opportunity, Wills seems unfazed.

“They’ll make their decision from there if I can hang; if I can’t. And then I’ll be right back here with my girls,” said Wills.

Wills  wouldn’t be the first female to play in a professional men’s league. In fact, she wouldn’t be the first female goalie to do so, either.

Manon Rheaume played for the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL in an exhibition game prior to the 1992 season.

Lightning general manager at the time, Phil Esposito, would later comment that Rheaume’s signing was a publicity stunt to garner attention for his fledgling franchise in a non-hockey market. Rheaume would not take the ice a second time for the Lightning.

“For me, it’s definitely not a stunt,” said Wills. “For me, it’s getting out there trying to be better than I am right now and trying something new.”

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