Two alumnae of the Dartmouth women’s lacrosse team were recently named to the U.S. National Team after competing in the U.S. Lacrosse Champions Challenge in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., last weekend.
Goalie Devon Wills ’06 and midfielder Whitney Douthett ’07 will travel to Prague this summer to compete with the team at the International Federation of Women’s Lacrosse Associations World Cup, which begins June 17.
Wills and Douthett spent months proving their abilities before the 18-woman squad was named last weekend. Their skills have been tested in tournaments as well as in formal, drill-style tryouts. At the decisive tryout last weekend, the U.S. women played in a tournament against the Japanese national team and several college teams.
Douthett said that she was relieved to make the team.
“I was so nervous,” she said. “It was kind of a long tryout process, and, after rounds and rounds of cuts, it’s awesome to have it under my belt and just start to play now.”
The final squad will play together for the first time this weekend in “South of the Border,” a prestigious collegiate preseason tournament hosted by the University of North Carolina. The women will lead a clinic and then compete against the national teams from Wales and England. They will also play Duke University, James Madison University and UNC.
To prepare for the World Cup, the athletes will spend much of their time training individually. They will stay in peak performance shape by running and doing cardiovascular workouts six days a week and lifting weights three days a week, Wills said. Formal training camp will bring the team together again on June 4.
Until then, the women have real world responsibilities to deal with in addition to their training.
Wills is an assistant coach for the women’s lacrosse team at the University of Denver in her home state of Colorado. Douthett works in New York City for an equity research company.
Dartmouth women’s lacrosse head coach Amy Patton said that she is proud of what Wills and Douthett have achieved.
“I’m incredibly thrilled for those guys,” she said. “They worked incredibly hard to get into this position, and they’re class acts.”
Willis and Douthett were standouts on a very talented Big Green women’s lacrosse team during their time at the College. Both were three-time All-Americans, and Wills was named All-Ivy all four of her years at Dartmouth. Douthett won the honor three times.
Wills led the NCAA in goals against average in 2006, when Dartmouth made a run to the NCAA championship game. She was named Colorado Sportswoman of the Year in 2006 for her accomplishments and her passion for the game of lacrosse.
Douthett currently holds the Dartmouth record for career assists.
In addition to playing together for three years at Dartmouth, Wills and Douthett were both members of the U.S. Elite Training and Development team before it was cut down to its final World Cup training size in October. They toured this summer with the team, winning the Prague Cup, where Wills was chosen as the goalkeeping MVP.
Both Wills and Douthett said that they are lucky to get to continue playing together as teammates and close friends.
“Whitney is the one I can always talk to with an issue,” Wills said.
Douthett also said that it is a great experience to play on the same team as girls who were once her college rivals.
“They’re awesome,” she said. “They’re not evil like we thought they were.”
Dartmouth Athletic Director Josie Harper said that it is a great accomplishment for Wills and Douthett to have made the team because of the sport’s ever-increasing popularity and competitiveness.
“I’m very proud of these two young women and the program they represent,” she said. “Dartmouth lacrosse has an incredible reputation nationwide for both camaraderie and talent.”
Harper coached the U.S. World Cup team in 1986 and is herself a member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
After graduating from Dartmouth, Wills returned to the Big Green as an assistant coach for two years, serving as the coordinator of defense and recruiting. She said that it was an invaluable experience and made her a smarter player.
“It was great, but so different from being a player,” she said. “It was strange to have a leadership role that was also about being in command.”
Patton said that it was great to have one of her former players back helping out on the coaching staff.
“[Wills] can relate to what the girls are going through,” she said. “It’s fun to have her around, and she has a real knack for teaching.”