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SPORTS

The Heart of Lacrosse Beats in the Diaspora

The Greece Lacrosse Association (GLA) may have been founded only in 2014, but judging by the growth and popularity it has achieved within the Hellenic Diaspora, it is certain that by the time the sport returns to the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, the ‘Blue and White’ will have many successes and distinctions.

The Board of Directors of the GLA – a member of World Lacrosse and the European Lacrosse Federation – under the presidency of former lacrosse goalkeeper and Oscar-winning producer of the film ‘12 Years a Slave’ Antonis Katagas, aims to both make the sport better known and to attract more players, as well as to develop the game in Greece. In fact, they already have a collaboration with the YMCA in Thessaloniki to create the first Lacrosse Academy in Greece!

The Under-15 National Lacrosse Team of Greece, which consists of Greek-American children, poses for a commemorative photo. Credit: Dr. Melani Kapetanakos Caldroney

Recently, however, the Under-15 National Lacrosse Team, consisting of Greek-American children, proved on the field that the future belongs to them and it will be… very bright.

The team, under the guidance of their coaches Peter Papaleonti and Steven Caldroney, won first place in the 2024 Heritage Lacrosse Cup tournament, which this year was held in Philadelphia, specifically at Haverford College (more at: instagram.com/teamgreecelacrosse).

The future is bright for Greek lacrosse – the Under-15 National Lacrosse Team came in first in the 2024 Heritage Lacrosse Cup tournament, which was held at Haverford College in Philadelphia. Credit: Stephan Apostolopoulos.

This success takes on even greater dimensions when we consider that the Under-15 team did not exist for long – competing for the first time they managed to reach first place.

“This team was just formed and did wonderfully,” emphasizes lawyer George Vomvolakis, father of Anthony, who plays on the team. “We beat teams like Ireland and Israel very easily, and Puerto Rico twice.”

Vomvolakis continued: “On our team, there are Greek-American children from many states in the USA, from California to New York, and this is very good because the children – but also we, the parents – get to know each other and form friendships.” He revealed that Dr. Melani Kapetanakos Caldroney is the person who undertook the creation and organization of the Under-15 team, which represents the future of Greece in Lacrosse.

George Caldroney and Antoni Vomvolakis. Credit: Burke @brailhighlights

“I believe that the development and awareness of a sport starts with our youth. That is why I took on the project of forming a Lacrosse team to participate in the 2024 Heritage Lacrosse Cup tournament, which was held at Haverford College in Philadelphia,” says Dr. Kapetanakos Caldroney. “We managed to gather 31 Greek-American boys to compete in the U15 category – Under-15. We won the tournament easily, something no one expected us to achieve because it was the first year we participated. We had children from California, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Philadelphia, and Virginia! With this team, we beat Ireland, 12-1 (!) Israel, and Puerto Rico twice… Also, in the same category with us were teams from the Philippines, American Virgin Islands, and Poland.”

Justin Adkins. Credit: Jimmy Dickinson

The success of the Under-15 team was undeniable in the 2024 Heritage Lacrosse Cup tournament, but the results – even coming in first place – were not the most important thing for Dr. Kapetanakos Caldroney. What ‘won over’ the ‘unsung heroine’ and made her proud of the creation and formation of this team was that “every child was proud to wear the blue and white jersey. You could see our blue and white uniforms from afar, the Greek flag on the side, and ‘Hellas’ on the front. As you approached the fields, you could hear grandmothers and grandfathers speaking Greek and cheering for their grandchildren. This team brought the participating children and their families closer together.”

George Xenakis. Credit: Burke @brailhighlights
Thomas Kasselakis. Credit: Burke @brailhighlights

These scenes described by Dr. Kapetanakos Caldroney pleased not only the families who participated and said, “we want to return and compete next year.” The sentiments were echoed by other families. TNH was told “we already have enough interest to be able to enter with three youth teams Under-13, Under-15, and Under-19.”

Dimitrios Apostolopoulos. Credit: Stephan Apostolopoulos.

There are lacrosse teams for men and women, but the Under-15 team is newly established and the one that drew enough interest for the creation of three more teams.

The Under-15 National Lacrosse Team. Credit: Burke @brailhighlights

The 2024 Heritage Lacrosse Cup tournament is over and has passed into history. What about the future? The future involves the development of Lacrosse in… Greece. “One goal for these children is to spend their summer vacations in Greece and possibly play and teach Lacrosse at the YMCA Lacrosse Academy in Thessaloniki. This is one of the ways we plan to develop the sport in Greece, and we are sure there will be interest since Lacrosse has returned to the Olympic Games,’ said Dr. Kapetanakos Caldroney, specifying that “this fall, Greece will host – for the second time – European Cup matches. Last year the event had six men’s teams, and this year it will have 10 men’s and 10 women’s teams. We understand it is one of the fastest-growing sports worldwide.”

The Under-15 National Lacrosse Team. Credit: Burke @brailhighlights

The national Under-15 team that won first place in the 2024 Heritage Lacrosse Cup tournament under the guidance of coaches Peter Papaleonti and Steven Caldroney includes: Thomas Tsolomitis, Thomas Kasselakis, George Caldroney, Nick Metsis, Antoni Vomvolakis, Loukas Maselli, Gabrael Maselli, Nick Zenk, George Gipp, Tommy Malfa, Peter Angelakos, Petros Chatzigiannis, Emmanuel Nikitiades, Braden Lederman, Dimitrios Apostolopoulos, John Kyles, Constantine Bellios, Alexandros Thomas, Alexi Mihos, Paul Myers, Luke Pourakis, Nick Dimopoulos, George Xenakis, Constantine Vases, Steve Panagopoulos, Elias Yatrakis, Nicholas Castro, Anthony Kokonas, Justin Adkins, JT Nicolaides.

The Under-15 National Lacrosse Team. Credit: Stephan Apostolopoulos.
The Under-15 National Lacrosse Team. Credit: Stephan Apostolopoulos.
The Under-15 National Lacrosse Team. Credit: Stephan Apostolopoulos.
The Under-15 National Lacrosse Team. Credit: Stephan Apostolopoulos.
The Under-15 National Lacrosse Team. Credit: Stephan Apostolopoulos.
The Under-15 National Lacrosse Team. Credit: Stephan Apostolopoulos.
The Under-15 National Lacrosse Team. Credit: Stephan Apostolopoulos.
The Under-15 National Lacrosse Team. Credit: Stephan Apostolopoulos.
The Under-15 National Lacrosse Team. Credit: Stephan Apostolopoulos.
The Under-15 National Lacrosse Team. Credit: Stephan Apostolopoulos.
The Under-15 National Lacrosse Team. Credit: Stephan Apostolopoulos.
The Under-15 National Lacrosse Team. Credit: Stephan Apostolopoulos.
The Under-15 National Lacrosse Team. Credit: Stephan Apostolopoulos.

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