Ahead of the upcoming 2022 World Lacrosse Women’s Championship and The World Games 2022, World Lacrosse caught up with Chess Gray and Jenni Aiton. Gray and Aiton will represent Scotland at Towson (Maryland) at the women’s championship and then represent Great Britain in sixes competition in Birmingham (Alabama) for The World Games.
Gray and Aiton have played together for Scotland since they were both juniors and appeared in the 2011 World Lacrosse Women’s U20 Championship together as well the 2017 women’s championship.
Read on to hear what both athletes are looking forward to in both events and what it means to compete at the highest level.
What are you most excited about for the women’s championships in Towson?
Chess Gray: I am most excited about spending two weeks playing lacrosse with my Scotland teammates! We have so much depth and creativity in our team this year, with a great mix of experience and youth on our side. After five years of hard work, I can’t wait to show the world what we’ve got during pool play as we compete against the best teams in the world.
Jenni Aiton: We’ve been building toward this as a squad over the last five years, so to finally be here and get to represent Scotland at the biggest women’s championship ever, especially at a time when lacrosse is growing in participation and audience, is amazing. Being in the A Pool means we get to compete with the best teams in the world in front of a huge crowd.
What will be different for you for The World Games, when you are representing Great Britain?
CG: Over the past few months, I’ve really enjoyed finding new connections (both on and off the pitch) with players from the other home nations. I’m really looking forward to watching the other events and supporting the other British athletes! But most importantly, I’m looking forward to demonstrating how amazing our sport is and advocating for the growth of the game on a global, multi-sport stage.
JA: It will be exciting experiencing a big international multi-sport event for the first time, getting to meet and see lots of different sports and elite athletes from across the world. Representing Great Britain is a huge honor and I’m looking forward to working with the other players and staff members from the other Home Nations, who are normally our closest rivals!
What do you like most about sixes, and how has it helped your game?
CG: Despite being a straight attacker in the 10s format, it’s been great to get back to my midfielder roots and see both sides of the ball again. I don’t love that it’s absolutely knackering, but I must admit that the pace of play in sixes makes for very exciting games. I’ve loved taking on the challenge of making quicker decisions under more pressure. I’ve definitely found that playing lots of sixes over the last year has boosted my confidence in handling pressure and taking on defenders.
JA: To score in sixes you have to be really creative and play smart – the game is so fast, and the momentum can change so quickly, which makes it exciting to play and watch. As a low attacker it has challenged my quick decision-making skills and lacrosse IQ, which has been easily transferred back to the 10-a-side game. It has also been fun getting to play all over the pitch and sharpening up my defensive skills!
What is the most important thing for fans to know about the Scotland team this summer?
CG: We have an incredible team spirit on team Scotland. Every single player on the team makes personal sacrifices to juggle a full-time job with an intense training schedule so that we can represent our country at the highest level playing the game we love. We always have fun (even during the coldest, rainiest training weekends in Edinburgh) and, in true Scot style, we are always up for a fight!
JA: As a team we love playing to a big crowd with lots of energy and we’d love to see lots of people supporting our friends and family – look out for our fans, they will most likely be dressed in tartan with big Scottish flags! We are hardworking and determined and always play hard to the final whistle. People can also follow us out in Towson on our Instagram page @scotlandlacrosse to see what we get up to and follow our progress.
What are your personal goals for the upcoming events?
CG: Obviously, I want to compete to the best of my ability every time I step onto the field. Whether I’m representing Scotland or Great Britain, my goals are to play with confidence, support my teammates and trust in my preparation. Most importantly though, my goal is to soak up the experience, enjoy myself and make some memories that will last a lifetime!
JA: At this stage of the season, you have to trust that the training and effort you’ve put in in the last five years has prepared you for this moment! Personally, I’d like to aim for a good shooting percentage in each game and to help control the pace of our attack. Most importantly, I want to enjoy every moment and have fun with my amazing teammates and family!
Scotland begins pool play on Friday, July 1 against the United States at 8 p.m. ET at Unitas Stadium in Towson. Jenni and Chess will play their first match with Great Britain at The World Games on July 12 at 2 p.m. CT against Canada.