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Unleashing the power of women’s lacrosse; the significance of the Premier Lacrosse League’s Unleashed All-Star Game

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Dalhousie chapter.

Earlier this month, the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL), a professional men’s field lacrosse league in the United States of America, announced the Unleashed All-Star Game. Set to take place on February 17th in Springfield, VA, this game will host some of the best women’s lacrosse players in the world for an exhibition All-Star style game during the PLL Championship Series. The game will be played in the Olympic sixes format, and the women will compete for either the North or South division team. 

The Unleashed All-Star game isn’t the first step the PLL has taken to elevate women’s lacrosse, and over the years they have worked hard to provide compensation and playing opportunities for women’s lacrosse players in North America and beyond. In 2019, the PLL hosted its first professional women’s exhibition in Japan, sending players from the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League (WPLL) alongside 16 PLL players to face-off against Japanese lacrosse All-Stars. Unfortunately, despite the excitement this event brought the world of women’s lacrosse, the WPLL was forced to cancel their 2020 season in April due to rising concerns regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, and in August 2020, it was announced that the WPLL would cease operations for good. 

However, despite this setback, women’s lacrosse was able to carry on through a variety of alternatives. In October 2020, Athletes Unlimited, a non-traditional professional sports league that launched just seven months prior, announced that they would be adding women’s lacrosse as its third league. Far from the conventional sports league model, Athletes Unlimited lacrosse seasons are played in one location over the span of one month. After each week, a point system is used to determine the top four players, who then assume the role of team captain, drafting their team for the week ahead. Athletes Unlimited has now successfully hosted three consecutive seasons of women’s lacrosse, but despite this success, some of the world’s best lacrosse players still spend the majority of the year with nowhere to play.  

This makes the exhibition events which continue to be hosted by the PLL all the more important. 2024 will now mark the third year in a row that the league has promoted the sport of lacrosse, both men’s and women’s, through their ongoing partnership with SEAKI CROSSE. This year’s event will be like no other. After a successful bid to return the sport of lacrosse to Olympic competition in 2028, PLL CEO and Co-Founder Paul Rabil, stated that “with newfound Olympic momentum and a renewed commitment in sharing the game globally, these PLL men’s and women’s players will host local clinics, participate in a guest visit at an elementary school, and compete in a showcase against the Cross Crosse All-Stars.” The 2024 world-class lacrosse showcase, taking place on March 20th in Kawasaki Japan, ​​will feature 18 PLL All-Stars, and 18 professional women’s players representing team Unleashed, a media and event platform, now with over 26k followers, that was launched by the PLL in 2020 with the goal of supporting “the growth and visibility of girls and women in the sport of lacrosse”. 

“Every opportunity to play this game at the highest level is deserved by the incredible women’s players elevating the game in this awesome era for our sport,” said Charlotte North in a recent PLL article following the announcement of the 2024 Unleashed All-Star game. North is an attacker for the US Women’s National Team, an Unleashed training partner and a NCAA Champion and Tewaaraton Winner, an award recognizing outstanding men’s and women’s NCAA lacrosse players. 
The significance of this All-Star game, combined with the ongoing efforts of the PLL and Athletes Unlimited to elevate women’s lacrosse, have not gone unnoticed. With an anticipated sold out crowd, and the game airing on ESPN+ February 17th at 1pm ET – the 2024 Unleashed All-Star game represents a huge step in the direction of gender equity in both lacrosse, and women’s sports as a whole. The game of lacrosse is just getting started, and it now has more opportunities than ever before to build upon and grow from as we approach the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

My name is Reagan Lindsay-Kereluik and I am currently in Halifax, studying at Dalhousie University in their undergraduate Legal Studies program (LJSO). I am pursuing a double minor in Economics and Management, as well as four business-focused certificates. As an advocate for women in sports and a hopeful future lawyer, I am incredibly passionate about the cross-over between the legal field and the sports industry. I enjoy writing about all things sports, law, and feminism.