US lacrosse league hoping to ‘knock it out of the park’ – and drafts Hong Kong captain Carrie Hui to make it happen
Primary schoolteacher set to make her Women’s Professional Lacrosse League debut with Baltimore Brave this weekend
Hong Kong has unearthed its first lacrosse poster child with women’s team captain Carrie Hui Ka-hei the first to blaze a professional trail in the United States.
The 28-year-old primary schoolteacher was drafted into Women’s Professional Lacrosse League (WPLL) outfit Baltimore Brave for two months and will make her debut on June 23.
We're pumped to add @hklacrosse superstar Ka Hei Hui to the team! GM @JMOLax was impressed with the HK captain's skill when they trained together in Jan., we're excited to see what the 1st HK female to play pro lacrosse will accomplish! Read full release: https://t.co/GJj3Rr2JMM pic.twitter.com/iCI8KyHeBt
— Baltimore Brave (@Baltimore_Brave) June 12, 2018
“The US is the highest level of lacrosse that you could ever get to and knowing that I’ll be playing on the same team as some of the lacrosse stars that we always looked up to is both exciting and nerve-racking,” said Hui, who was at the top of Brave general manager Jessy Morgan’s wish list forthe inaugural WPLL season.
Hui was a stand-out at last year’s 2017 FIL Rathbones World Cup in England and impressed Morgan during a Hong Kong women’s team training session in January. The commanding attacker has been in Baltimore, Maryland, for two weeks and is learning the ropes to the faster-tempo game and rules.
“My mentality is to learn and soak up as much as I can,” said Hui, who will undoubtedly have the 2021 World Cup in the back of her mind. “Hopefully, I can bring some skills back and apply it to my coaching and playing with the Hong Kong team.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t have any games last weekend so I’ve had to make sure I’ve been keeping disciplined and doing workouts on my own. I went to team practice on Friday and everyone was super nice and encouraging.”
Family, teammates and students have all shown their support for Hui, who travelled to the United States with Hong Kong women’s head coach Travis Taylor last month. Taylor previously described Hui as “a cut above most players in the region”.
“Everybody has been great,” Hui said. “My parents don’t really understand what a pro league is but they know this is something huge and support me immensely. My [Hong Kong] teammates have been very excited about this since it was announced, they all bought a bunch of team merchandise and sent me photos of them in Brave gear.”
WPLL chief and US National Lacrosse hall of famer Michele DeJuliis – better known as DJ – will be working closely with Hui and is delighted the league has landed its first Hong Kong player.
“I’ve always been highly impressed with her and she represents herself and her country well,” said DeJuliis, who led the US women’s team to 2009 World Cup gold.
“She only has good things to come and all she wants to do is make a difference – those types of people change the world.
“She’s come so far and is willing to do everything necessary to be a part of this league. The more time she spends on the field and interacts with the coaches and players, the better for her and Hong Kong lacrosse programme.”
The league has five active teams and players from eight international programmes including Australia, South Korea and now Hong Kong. Hui said the pace of the game was “like Hong Kong on fast-forward”, adding that her new teammates are stronger communicators on the pitch compared to some of the younger Hongkongers.
“Obviously, she’s a strong player coming out of Hong Kong and she’s keeping up,” said DeJuliis. “We’re going to work on different aspects of her game and get her to that next level; more tricks up her sleeve and the ability to be more of a threat with the ball.
“And do it the way a leader would – which she already is because she’s right here. I’m looking forward to spending more one-on-one time with her … she is starving to learn and that is half the battle with a lot of players.”
DeJuliis has spent the better part of two years to ensure the WPLL covers all base, including a ‘Futures’ programme for the new wave of lacrosse talent.
“We’ve been putting the pieces together to make sure we’re offering our women great personal and professional experience and help them develop in whatever career within the lacrosse industry. We want to knock it out of the ballpark because these women and kids deserve it.
“We saw a responsibility to connect [young people] looking up to these pro athletes – to get their posters back on their bedroom walls and create a universal language between the two age groups,” she said.
The main objective is to cement lacrosse on the world stage: to feature at the Olympic Games.
“Everyone is embedded in lacrosse and we want to see this sport get to the Olympics sooner rather than later,” said DeJuliis. “There’s going to have to be similarities [with the men’s game] in order to get to that next level and that’s where our challenge lies.
“There’s a lot of talent out where – I saw it when I was playing at the World Cup – and a lot of players from different countries play at a really high level, but don’t have the opportunities we had.
“We have to be proactive and get our eyes on this overseas talent – having Carrie here is the just the first step.”