Gretchen and Rachel Lasda, sisters and Camillus natives, grew up with lacrosse.
Their older brother, Geoff, played at Princeton University from 1996 to 2000. Both women came up through the storied West Genesee girls program in its rise to national prominence.
Gretchen, 30, won a sectional championship in 1998 before graduating two years later and starring at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She coached at XTEAM Lacrosse, a national club team organization, as well as Summit High School in Summit, New Jersey.
Rachel, 24, earned All-American honors as a senior on the 2007 team that won sectional and state championships and was named national champion by LaxPower’s National Coaches/Computer Ratings. She went on to play at Villanova University and is in her second year as head coach at Oak Knoll High School in Summit since graduating in 2011.
They maintain connections with the sport to this day, though the two have never been a part of the same team in a competitive atmosphere.
The Lasda sisters bring their expertise to the Latvian Lacrosse Federation as the national team prepares to participate in the 2013 Women’s Lacrosse World Cup in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada for the first time. Gretchen takes on the head coach role and Rachel will serve as a player/coach.
Despite having a fully Latvian father and a grandmother born and raised in the Baltic country, this opportunity represents the sisters’ first foray into their heritage.
Their grandparents, Albert and Ilga, met in Germany during World War II. Albert was serving as an American soldier and Ilga had fled her occupied homeland. But Ilga did not share much of her history before passing away in 2004.
“Because the country was occupied so many times and people were deported and it was just not a good time in Latvia she didn't talk about it a lot. We missed a lot of our history because of that,” Gretchen said.