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A Global Game

by Hilary Bentman

Albright hosted Meiji University of Japan in an international friendly at Shirk Stadium. Meiji University, a well-respected team with a couple of recent national championships in Japan, traveled to the United States to play matches at several American schools.

For goalie Hayley Joyce ’17, it was a game like no other. After all, the Albright College senior could not verbally communicate with her fellow players as she minded her lacrosse net.

That’s because Joyce was goaltending for a Japanese side. Her teammates spoke little English and she knows no Japanese. But through “lots of pointing and waving,” Joyce and her teammates effectively kept the ball moving and the game running smoothly and competitively.

Turns out there really is a universal language of sport.

That was a lesson Joyce and her fellow Albright women’s lacrosse teammates quickly learned on March 7, when they had the rare opportunity to host Meiji University of Japan in an international friendly at Shirk Stadium. Meiji University, a well-respected team with a couple of recent national championships in Japan, traveled to the United States to play matches at several American schools. The team traveled without a goalie, so Joyce stepped in when they arrived at Albright.

The Lions said the international friendly offered an amazing opportunity to see how players on the other side of the world approach the game. It also provided the team the chance to learn about the culture and lives of Japanese students.

“I didn’t know they played lacrosse in Japan,” said Mariah Cullen ’17.

The two teams played by American rules, which differ slightly from the Japanese game. The Albright side found their counterparts from Meiji to be highly competitive and disciplined, but also very enthusiastic, friendly and incredibly respectful. Meiji players, for example, bowed to the referees and also to their fellow players at the  touchline when substitutions were made.

But just like the Albright players, they have a propensity for clicking sticks during substitutions.

Albright women’s lacrosse coach Jen Willis was contacted by Zag Sports, an organization that facilitates team tours, about hosting Meiji University. She jumped at  the chance. The match is believed to be the second time Albright has hosted an international team. In 1980, men’s basketball played a team from the former Yugoslavia.

While the game was great fun, the most rewarding experience came off the field at dinner, when the players sat down for pizza and conversation. The Albright and Meiji players discussed their college experiences and personal lives, and exchanged small tokens of appreciation.

“They loved learning about us,” said Patricia Horgan ’17. “They know more English than we know Japanese. They tried to teach the team.”

Natsumi Ito ’17, a native of Japan who is not on the lacrosse team, stepped in to help translate for the players.

“I was happy that the Japanese college students came to Albright and experienced the stay here, even though it was very short,” said Ito, who served as president of Albright’s International Student Association prior to graduation. “I really wish Albright and Meiji could start doing an exchange program so that more people will be able to go to Japan and experience the culture there.”

The Lions said it was particularly rewarding to see the sport they love making its way around the world.

“The best part of this experience is that lacrosse continues to grow,” said Willis. “When you love the game as much as the Albright lacrosse team does, it is rewarding to see the progress.”

Stepping Up to the Plate

In April, Casey Lawrence ’10 finally got the call.

After more than seven years pitching in the minors, Lawrence took the mound in relief for the Toronto Blue Jays and recorded his first major league strike out (, on three pitches to Tampa Bay Rays All-Star Evan Longoria.

“It’s a huge source of pride for everyone associated with our program,” says Albright baseball coach Jeff Feiler of his former standout pitcher.

After four appearances with the Blue Jays, Lawrence was acquired by the Seattle Mariners, where, on June 1, the right-hander struck out nine and set a Mariners record for strikeouts by a reliever in a single game.

“To see Casey reach the heights he has in his career is a testament to that work ethic,” says Feiler.

Lawrence returns to Albright to help with baseball clinics. “When he comes around he’s just one of the guys, and that says a ton about his character and the type of person he is,” says Feiler.

Lawrence is the ninth former Lion to play in the majors, and the first since New York Yankee pitcher Roy Sherid in 1931.