E-Lacrosse Gallery
U-19 Opening Ceremonies
7/11/2003
John Strohsacker
http://www.shutterfly.com/pro/laxphotos/u19
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By Nelson Coffin

A typical summertime Baltimore tropical weather pattern greeted the more than 500 players, coaches, officials and team staff members from 10 countries and 16 teams that celebrated the opening of the Under-19 World Championships at Towson University recently. A thick layer of sultry air wrapped around each perspiring participant waiting for his or her turn to march in step with teammates after opening remarks by local sportscaster Keith Mills, Event Committee Chairman Ryan McLernan, International Lacrosse Federation President Peter Hobbs and International Federation of Women's Lacrosse Associations President Fiona Clark.

The United States, England, Wales, Scotland, Japan, Korea, Germany, Australia, Canada and Iroquois Nation were all represented in the parade of nations that strode by a modest gathering at Towson Stadium to usher in a tournament that would decide the men's and women's world champions at the same site for the first time in history. Teams waved to supporters in the stands as they passed in review and then lined up on the field, as national flags unfurled as best they could in the limp wind. Even the ILF officials sported a flag, a self-deprecating depiction of a zebra with a yellow penalty flag in its mouth that engendered a few chuckles.

The English squads brandished the Cross of St. George instead of the more familiar Union Jack, mainly because fellow British Islanders, Scotland and Wales, that are part of the United Kingdom, are rivals during the competition rather than U.K. compatriots. Each nation's flag was also raised atop a hill at the east end of the stadium, as were the banners of other organizations. Michael Culver and Coco Stanwick of the host U.S. squads were chosen to read their respective men's and women's players oaths while U.S. head coaches Bob Shriver and Wendy Kridel read the coaches pledge in unison. The "zebras" joined the pledge-making, promising, like the other groups, to maintain good sportsmanship at the event.

The initial game of the tourney followed the first-night festivities and marked the international debut of hometown hero Kevin Huntley of Baltimore private-school champion Calvert Hall, who scored seven goals and added an assist in Canada's 20-9 romp over England. The Towson resident is a member of the Canadian team because his dad, David, hails from the north. Huntley, one of the youngest competitors, played for Canada against high-school teammate Nick Williams, a U.S. midfielder which only added to the international flavor of the event which had something for just about every fan of the sport.

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