QUESTION & ANSWER SUMMARY - Female Lacrosse Association AGM - Thursday, December 20, 2018

The following is a summary of the question and answer session at the recent Female Lacrosse Association AGM held at the Morrison Homes Theatre, 11158, 42nd Street SE, on December 20th, 2018 at 7pm.

  1. How far along in the process of making decisions is the Female Lacrosse Association (FLA)?

We are further ahead in some areas than others. With the appointment of the Board and the official sanctioning of the FLA, we expect additional resources in terms of volunteers to allow us to focus on those areas which we still need to develop.

Having solicited feedback from the CDLA female player membership, we will be known as the Fury and are currently working on a website and logo.

We have determined that in each age group from Peewee through Midget, we will have a competitive division and a development division. All Novice players will participate in a development division. The evaluation process for each division has been established, with options as to independent evaluators currently being reviewed. Details will be available on the Female Lacrosse website in January.

The teams in the competitive league will be drawn from all over the city and surrounding areas with the primary focus to ensure those teams are evenly matched. While we appreciate this will involve more travel for many girls, we are working with the CDLA to identify arenas that are somewhat more central than others and will be trying to accommodate everyone by having practices in different locations.

The development league on the other hand, will be geographically based. Once again we want the teams to be as evenly matched as possible, however they will be formed with an emphasis on geographical location. By way of an example teams will be comprised of a mixture of Axemen, Sabrecats and Raiders in the south with practices held at arena’s which are traditionally within those associations boundaries. For example, the intention would be to have practices at each of Aldersyde, Cardel Rec and Subway Soccer Center. To reiterate, the intention with this league is to afford the girls the opportunity to continue to play with their friends as close to home as is practical and possible.

Jersey colors have been selected and we are now working closely with a couple of potential vendors to finalize design. We are also discussing the process for purchasing other Fury merchandise, to provide our membership with the opportunity to purchase hoodies, jerseys, etc.

There is still much work to do and we would encourage you to take a look at the newly appointed board and reach out to the member responsible for the area in which you think you can assist. These board members will require your assistance if we are to make a success of this association. As you read through the rest of the Q&A it will become apparent where we still need work to be done. We would encourage you to consider making recommendations, providing suggestions or volunteering to help us find solutions and solidify our plans.

  1. Can you explain the tiering and the travel that will be involved?

As mentioned above we will have two groups within each age group, namely i) competitive and ii) development.

The FLA will offer a Competitive option for PeeWee through Midget aged players. Teams in this division will be formed based on skill rather than geographic location. Players registering for this option will be  assessed through a series of skills/evaluation sessions starting in February. We are working with the CDLA to look at options for assigning more centrally located arenas for games and practices to try and mitigate the impact of the additional travel.

In addition, the FLA will offer a development option for Novice through Midget players, with teams organized both on relative skill ranking and the athlete’s geographic location. While this may result in additional travel, we believe it will be minimal and as mentioned in the previous response, we intend to use a number of facilities to share what additional travel there may be

Additional information on division structure and evaluations will be available when registration opens in January 2019..

  1. How did we pay for the costs associated with the new association?

This initiative was launched by the CDLA who have provided us with initial funding of $50,000. This will allow us to purchase jerseys and keep registration fees and their existing levels. Some families will see either a modest increase or decrease as we established our registration fees based on an average of the legacy associations.

  1. Is Edmonton looking at a similar format and do we expect this to go Canada wide?

We cannot say whether Edmonton will follow suit or if this will go national. We are however in preliminary contact with our counterparts in Edmonton to look into options of playing against one another in one form or another. We would suspect that they will be looking very closely at our model and will be interested in the progress we make and the pitfalls we encounter. While it would be fantastic to see this grow within Alberta, we are currently focusing on the task at hand and so it would be premature to make statements on the intent of other associations within the province.

On a national basis we have not heard anything with respect to initiatives elsewhere. We will be the first female only lacrosse association, and while we hope that this would incentivize others to pursue a similar course, we would suspect many people will look to see whether we can make a successful transition away from co-ed associations, before committing.

  1. How will the evaluations work and when will they be?

More details providing specifics around the evaluations process will be made available at the beginning of January when registration opens. At this time details will be provided around requirements, format and timelines.

Evaluations for the competitive division will begin the first two weeks of February and will consist of two skills sessions followed by situational and game play. Everyone is welcome to try out for the competitive skills sessions with decisions made thereafter as to who will be invited to participate in subsequent sessions. The intent is to retain girls in the competitive evaluations as long as possible to give them every chance of making the teams. If, however, it is determined that the girl is more suited to development, we will make that decision and communicate that with those individuals. At that time, they will move to the development evaluations.

We appreciate that there are often conflicts between winter sports such as hockey and ringette as well as other sports such as volleyball and basketball. While we will never be able to establish a time that works for everyone, we have looked into the hockey and ringette schedules and believe the evaluation floor times chosen throughout February to be the most convenient.

Development league evaluations are scheduled for April.

  1. How are we attracting new players and can friends play together?

While friend requests will not be available at the competitive level, we are looking at options available to us for accommodating some requests at the development level. By basing our development teams geographically, it is expected that a lot of girls will continue to be able to play with friends.

The desire however is to grow the game at this level and we believe that by accommodating such requests we can recruit more girls. There are some practical concerns that need to be addressed and again we need to make every effort to ensure equality between the teams. As such we are currently looking at options available to us including one reciprocated friend request for new players to the game. We intend to provide more details on this as we work our way through it.

  1. Are we going to continue to develop female coaches?

We are highly supportive of female coaches and their development. This was an initiative of the CDLA and the ALA and we will continue to respect that initiative. With a female only association we believe in the importance of female coaches who are properly certified and who can be role models for our young athletes. We will be encouraging more females to take up coaching rather than simply have the responsibility of “bench mom”. These coaches will be required to take the necessary NCCP Certifications and the CDLA is committed to running more courses and is open to running more female coach only courses.

  1. How are coaches going to be selected?

We have sent out coaching reviews for the past year and will also be reaching out to the associations to request access to their coaching surveys to determine who would make the most appropriate coaches and ensure the success of our girls and the teams.

This year being the first, the Executive Board will make the decision on coaches in consultation with our Coaching Director. In future years we will rely on our own surveys, with a decision yet to made on how the coaches will be selected.

  1. How do we ensure good coaching at the development level?

We believe we have enough good coaches interested and vested in the development of the female game that we will not have to solicit the assistance of the “voluntold” parent. We understand the importance of good coaching at every level, as all competitive players were at one-time part of the development group. By ensuring we have strong coaching at every level we are taking care of the foundation and future of our sport.

Our Coaching Director has shared some ideas of what he feels will work including shared practices between levels (beneficial to girls and coaches), mentorship programs and coaching assistance. While these still need to be refined, we have significant coaching experience within our association. We are confident that our coaching will be amongst the best in the CDLA.

  1. How will teams be picked at the competitive level?

Teams will be picked based on rankings for the top 2/3rds of each team. The final 1/3rd will be selected based on the coach’s pick. This will allow for a degree of responsibility being passed to the coaches as well as allowing them to look at things other than pure evaluation rankings, such as attitude, motivation and dedication.

  1. How will Provincials work with the new association?

Provincials are governed by the Alberta Lacrosse Association (ALA). As information becomes available we will share it with the membership.

  1. How will affiliation work?

We will continue to fall under the affiliation rules of the ALA. There will be no cross affiliation but girls will be able to move up. In the case of competitive teams, affiliation will either be from development teams in their own age group or from competitive teams in the age group below. Development teams will only be allowed to affiliate from the lower age group.

Specifics on which team can affiliate from another team have yet to be determined.

  1. There is a lot of misinformation and instances of the information not being shared or made available.

While we have made every effort to share information and make people aware of what we are doing, we appreciate there are different information requirements depending on the individual. There has been a lot of information available, however it has appeared that the availability of this information has been dependent on your legacy association or the means by which information has been communicated.

With the creation of a website and the appointment of a Communications Director we look forward to sharing this information with a broader group and hopefully addressing people’s concerns. While we have thus far relied on communications through the CDLA and the legacy associations, we believe having our own website will be a powerful tool for sharing information.

It is also worth noting that until we received our society paperwork and a Board was formed, the committee was not acting in any official capacity. This meant final decisions and therefore the sharing of a lot of details of things we were working on, could not be shared in any official capacity.

  1. Do you plan to have a townhall now the Board has been formed?

Now that the Board has been formed we are looking at the possibility of holding a townhall meeting in January. We are also highly reliant on the membership to share the information they have in an effort to address any rumours and are committed to being highly transparent and share information as it becomes available.

  1. What were some of the benefits around a competitive and a development league split and how would success be measured?

When we considered the two-league option there were several things that came to mind. The gap by the time you reach Bantam and Midget, between an experienced player and a new player is extreme. We felt by splitting into two groups that difference would be less extreme within those groups. While not removing all safety concerns, this certainly makes strides in addressing them.

We also felt that it would encourage more girls to start the sport at an older age as the difference in skillset would not be as wide. Girls would feel less self-conscious with the reduction in that gap. By playing with like skilled players they could develop at a more comfortable pace. Meanwhile the competitive players who have played for years are challenged more and can continue to develop.

By having the opportunity to play at either level we feel that the girls will be able to develop, have fun and be safer playing at the level most appropriate for them.

Our success will be measured in a number of ways, including but not limited to i) increased participation and retention numbers, ii) level of enjoyment the girls experience, iii) numbers who go on to junior ladies; and iv) feedback from coaches and parents.

  1. How will referees be assigned between competitive and development leagues?

This will be the responsibility of the ALRA and the head of officiating will be accountable for the assignments. While we cannot talk on behalf of the ALRA, we would expect that the higher levelled referees be assigned the competitive games with less experienced officials being assigned the development games.

It is also worth noting that this provides the ALRA an opportunity to develop referees at their discretion, taking advantage of the split in our female league.

  1. Will the rules be different between the two leagues?

No. We still fall under ALA legislation and therefore rules are based on the age group of the participants rather than the division they play in. Rules will not be changed making the sport less physical for the development teams. We will however continue to monitor this and in the event we believe a change is in the best interests of the girls, we would follow due process for discussion with the CDLA and ALA.

  1. Is there an expectation of a different level of commitment between the two divisions?

We will be encouraging the same level of commitment from all girls. They will still be expected to show up and be committed to their teammates, coaches and the sport. All girls will be afforded the same opportunities with respect to time allotted by the association. We do however anticipate that there will be some coaches who wish to have additional practices and will therefore acquire additional floor time as a team cost. All fees paid will be the same, the only additional fees for competitive being an evaluation fee of $50.

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