Laughing and crying at a World Championship


Profile: Piet Lammers & Eline Oskam

By Julie Albers

You might have spotted her jogging around campus with her lacrosse stick. Or you could have seen him cycling daily to the rowing-course. Second years Eline Oskam (20) and Piet Lammers (18) both attended a World Championship this summer. How did they come this far?

If you are as ignorant about “the fastest sport on land” as I was, here is a short crash course in the world of lacrosse. Every player has a long stick with a net on top. Using the stick, you throw the ball in the opponent’s goal. “Although it’s officially a non-contact sport, I’m often covered with bruises afterwards,” Eline says.

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Both of them started relatively late. After a rather unsuccessful soccer career, Piet discovered rowing at 14. “The discipline, strengthening your entire body and pushing to the utmost with your team-mates, is what I love about rowing.”

Eline’s lacrosse career stemmed from an exchange year in the USA, where the sport is very popular. Still, she was forced to join a men’s team. “Suddenly, these boys had to thump girls instead of being courteous”, Eline laughs.

The lack of lacrosse opportunities in the Netherlands made Eline set up her own team in her hometown. She arranged for the keeper of the national team to be their coach and started playing in the league.

The number of trainings increased when they got selected for the Dutch national team. During his summer course, Piet also practiced daily in Amsterdam. But there were fun moments too: the eight boys (unofficially) beat the Dutch team on some short distance sprints and improved their team spirit at a bonbon workshop.

Eline went to Canada, Piet to Lithuania. Both found themselves staring with eyes wide open at their idols of the famous teams. Still, “you don’t have any contact with the other teams,” Piet says. “You’re really on your own.”

Rowing on a beautiful lake near a castle, Piet’s eight performed well enough in the first race. They proceeded to the second semi-finals, mostly competing against the team from the US, finishing 8th out of the 14 teams.

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“The beautiful thing about a world championship is the intensity of your emotions. You practiced incredibly hard for a long time, and there’s so much stress. When you lose, everyone cries; when you win, everyone jumps around,” Piet says.

Eline arrived in Toronto. “The audience was wonderful: they love lacrosse and don’t ask if I’m catching butterflies,” she laughs. Despite the English-speaking countries rising above the rest, the Dutch team was happy to be 14th out of 19.

Little gifts are exchanged before a lacrosse match; rowers swap each other’s outfits afterwards. Not everything is fun though. Soaking with sweat, Eline had to play matches in 38 degrees. Piet woke up at 6 a.m. to go to practice. But both whole-heartedly underline the uniqueness of such an event.

So what happens after this climax? Piet switched to the student rowing-club Triton and keeps on rowing fanatically, hoping to win the Varsity one day – the most prominent Dutch student’s race.

Eline is busy setting up two ‘development camps’ to encourage fresh lacrosse talent to train together. “But I mostly hope lacrosse will be reintroduced at the Olympic Games,” she says. “I dream about coaching the Olympic team someday.”

 

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