At her recent home tournament, a male opponent on the other team absolutely crushed North Okanagan Minor Lacrosse Pee Wee Legends girl forward Bailey Kayle with a punishing hit.
Kayle got up, took the player’s number and returned the favour, making her coach smile.
When she got to the bench, Kayle sat down, had a good cry, and told her coach the hit ‘really hurt.’
“I like the hitting unless it’s dirty,” smiled Kayle a Grade 5 student at Armstrong’s Highland Park Elementary School. “I do a lot of hitting.”
Kayle and fellow first-year player teammates Halle Hart, Nicole Payton, Jordan Payton, Seyja Manson and Bailey’s sister, Summer, a goalie, recently made North Okanagan minor lacrosse history at the Legends’ Rock The House Pee Wee tournament.
They became the first all-girls line to play in a game dominated by boys, put together by their head coach Devin Rodger, a player with the Armstrong Shamrocks, known to throw a crunching hit or two in his career.
“She takes no guff,” said Rodger of Kayle, who he calls a “top-three player” on his team. He’s been impressed with all six rookies.
“Jordan, we call ‘Mack Truck’ because she goes ‘honk honk’ after she’s trucked someone and steps over them on the ground,” he smiled. “Seyja, Nicole and Halle came out late this year, but they’re just starting to get physical. Summer does a great job against the shooters.”
Not only do the girls have to put up with boys being dirty and rough, but also mean. They all endured taunts on the floor during the tournament.
“I got really mad about that,” said Bailey, who ended up decking one of her tormentors, resulting in a game ejection.
Clay Kayle is Bailey and Summer’s father. He posted on social media about the great job Rodger has done coaching the girls.
“Most coaches would be overwhelmed at the challenge (of coaching six girls), but Devin stepped up,” said Clay. “He has shown these young ladies how to compete with the boys and play great lacrosse. He has built their confidence up so much and they know that whatever happens on the floor, he believes in them and they know their coach will always have their back.”
The six girls were honoured by the Vernon Iron Ghost Construction Tigers of the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League prior to a Tigers’ home game against the Kelowna Kodiaks, much to the delight of Julia Diemand, 19. She is one of two women players with the expansion Kodiaks (Jozn Wickert is the other).
“It’s awesome,” said Diemand, who has a pair of assists this season, of the six girls playing on the floor at the same time. “We’re starting to get more numbers in the women’s game. It’s a sport I know they’re going to enjoy.”
The Tigers praised the girls and coach Rodger for persevering.
“Despite playing in a traditionally male-dominated sport, these young ladies, all first-year players, have endured through much and we want them to know we believe in them, and congratulate them on their hard-working efforts,” said Tigers general manager Duane Barr.
“They are role models and leaders in the sport and we look forward to watching their skills develop.”