Liz Robertshaw has experienced one of the greatest joys this game can offer — winning a gold medal at the World Cup as part of the U.S. national team. She won two while serving as an assistant from 2009 to 2017 to Ricky Fried, and because of that time with US Lacrosse, Robertshaw knows firsthand what it takes to make a national team roster.

Along the way, she helped develop the culture of hard work, selflessness and striving for excellence that made the U.S. national team stand out among its competitors on the world stage. The final product, winning a gold medal with a team that would truly do anything for each other, is a memory she cherishes and hopes for others to have the same opportunity. It's because of this, Robertshaw believes working for the U.S. national team has been one of the most rewarding roles in her lacrosse career.

But equally as important to Robertshaw is the advancement of the women’s lacrosse game — both professionally and beyond. She is an advocate for women's sports through social media and believes that today's lacrosse players and coaches have the ability and responsibility to inspire the next generation of leaders.  As the WPLL continues to push the women’s game forward, she is intent on carrying the momentum into the youth ranks. 

With her experience and passion for growing the game, it was only fitting that Robertshaw served as the program director for Stage 1 of the US Lacrosse National Team Development Program/WPLL Futures regional tryouts in it's inaugural year.

As program director, Robertshaw designed a curriculum to be used at 10 different sites across the country and evaluated over 700 athletes in the U15 and U17 ranks over two months this spring and summer. The US Lacrosse National Team Development Program (NTDP) is a three-phased process for high school-aged boys’ and girls’ players that leads to USA Select teams.

Robertshaw and a crew of coaches, consisting of WPLL and U.S. national team athletes, set out to show what it takes to play for the U.S. national team and then find nation’s top young players that will ultimately expand the talent pool for US Lacrosse to participate in World Lacrosse competitions.

“It’s giving an opportunity for young women to start their track toward the professional league and to Team USA,” she said of the program, which kicked off this year. “I’ve been very fortunate to work with women on both sides [WPLL and US Lacrosse] in different events. As [the National Team Development Program] continues to grow, it’s going to be an amazing event.”

At each location, Robertshaw provided the motivation for the athletes to compete at the highest level. She impressed on the girls that “if you want to wear the red, white and blue, you’ve got to have grit along with some talent and ton of heart.”

But she made sure to take advantage of the opportunity to inspire the next generation of women’s lacrosse players. She touched on the WPLL’s growth as a league, hinted at the chance to play in the Olympics in 2028 and encouraged the girls to watch women’s lacrosse any chance they get, be it live or wherever it’s broadcast.

“We get asked that question all the time. Why is it important to see women playing on TV? Why is it important to have WPLL and Team USA athletes out there?” she said. “It comes down to the very simple answer of, you can’t be what you can’t see. We want to make sure that these young girls see what their futures can be.”

After the tryouts, Robertshaw and her team evaluated each athlete for advancement to Stage 2 of the NTDP process, as well as advancement to the WPLL Futures National Championship Summit (NCS) which ran in conjunction with the league’s playoffs this weekend.

The WPLL Futures NCS, held at Yale, was a two-day event centered around individual and team training, leadership and confidence programming and access to college coaches and WPLL Pro players, who served as instructors. For some players, this event will act as a warm up event for August's US Lacrosse National Combine and the chance to become a member of the U-15 or U-17 USA Select Team.

The National Combine at US Lacrosse headquarters will be an intense three-day camp with athletes taken through elite level training in both individual and team skill development as well as sessions on nutrition, strength and conditioning, social media, recruiting, social-emotional learning and leadership.

All of the hard work will go toward building the next crop of U.S. women’s lacrosse greats who will continue to push the game and women's sports further into the spotlight in the years to come. The first step is showing up, and on the last WPLL Futures / US Lacrosse USA Select Tryout held at US Lacrosse Headquarters Robertshaw was proud of the turnout and the product on the field.

“At the end of the day, we talked about how special of an opportunity this was, and also how impressed we were that, on a hot day, middle of the summer, with so many options, that they decided to show up and try to represent Team USA,” Robertshaw said at the end of the Baltimore tryout at US Lacrosse headquarters.