When Hannah Kent takes to the field to play for Niagara University against St. Bonaventure on Feb. 11 in Buffalo, N.Y., she will become the first Nova Scotian to play NCAA women’s lacrosse at the Division I level.
The 19-year-old Musquodoboit Harbour native said she knows playing lacrosse at the college level means she is a role model for many aspiring players.
“I’m still honestly learning the field lacrosse game a little bit, so I’m just kind of a sponge absorbing everything,” she said in a recent interview. “I’m constantly asking questions, trying to learn.
“It comes with some pressure, but nothing that I can’t handle.”
As part of her commitment to sharing her knowledge, Kent has a business called 902LAX back at her family home to teach lacrosse skills to young local athletes.
Grew up with sports
Kent has attended school in the U.S. since she was 13. She grew up playing indoor lacrosse and hockey.
The indoor game, or box lacrosse, is played with different rules and has more contact. She made the transition to field lacrosse in Grade 9, she said.
The love of sports is rooted in her family, Kent said. Her brother was a lacrosse goalie and her father has an extensive coaching background.
Kent said her family is proud of her progress, although her brother would have preferred if she had been a goalie.
Describing her experience as whirlwind, Kent said the pandemic restricted many opportunities to showcase her skills but it “all ended up working out.”
Niagara coach Wendy Stone said she discovered Kent while she was attending boarding school and her indoor lacrosse background helped set her apart.
Stone said the fact Kent also played ice hockey and field hockey was a bonus because knowing other sports can create a competitive edge.
“She was competitive and she wanted to be out there and knew she had a lot to learn, which I think is a great quality in athletes,” Stone said.
“I think Hannah has progressed well through that phase of things and is picking up new things every day, which is really exciting.”
Kent is an attacker. Stone said she expects Kent to put up points for the Purple Eagles and to “trust the process of developing an offence.”
‘Huge step forward’
According to KJ MacNeil, technical director of Lacrosse Nova Scotia, Kent is the kind of role model young kids can “look up to and aspire to be.”
“It’s huge for our province,” MacNeil said. “It’s hard for us out here in sort of an isolated environment to get that national recognition, and for her to go play at the top level down in the states is a huge step forward for us.”
MacNeil said the organization is very proud of the path Kent has laid and is happy to be part of her journey.
Both Kent and Stone agree that it is an exciting time for women’s sports as they are finally getting the recognition they deserve.
Stone said games have been on television more often and the last two national championship games have been sold out.
Kent credits the growth in popularity of women’s sports to the impact of social media.
“It’s just getting more noticed on social media and people are kind of trying to buy into that we’re equal.”
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