By Caroline Bryant | Sept. 4, 12:44 p.m.
Admiring the two photos of her sons hanging above her office desk, 2022 World Lacrosse Development Award winner Dr. Katherine Loh claims the award wouldn’t be her’s if it were not for them.
Never having played lacrosse herself, claiming that she could never run that far, Loh decided to get involved with lacrosse’s governing body after her eldest son earned a spot on the Peruvian national team. The team would compete in the 2018 World Lacrosse Championship in Israel.
“My husband is Peruvian so you could play for your heritage,” Loh said. “And as a team mom, I got involved a little bit and I realized that it is a really daunting task to bring a national team to a world championship.”
After Israel, she joined the board of Peru Lacrosse, spending countless hours writing their constitution, organizing a board of directors, and making Peru a full member of World Lacrosse. Yet, they had no regional sector to join. Recognizing her dedication, Loh was asked by World Lacrosse to construct the Pan-American Lacrosse Association.
It surprised Loh that PALA didn’t already exist, as North America is home to the “powerhouses of lacrosse.” With her help, she was going to give them the platform they deserved.
The first line of duty as a founding board member and president would be developing the governmental structure of the federation. Her second line of duty, and her proudest accomplishment, was being the first federation to build physical headquarters. This includes offices and training facilities for any member of PALA.
“I worked with Visit Central Florida and were able to secure the Lake Myrtle Sports Complex as our physical headquarters for PALA and that was huge,” she said with a cheeky grin. “None of the other federations –and not even World Lacrosse at that time– had a physical headquarters with 11 fields that members could use for free.”
There they held two competitions, including the 2019 Women’s Qualifier, and premiered the Sixes Cup Championship in 2021. The Sixes Cupheld two months after the International Olympic Committee gave full member recognition to World Lacrosse was the first championship to showcase the sport’s Olympic format.
Loh hopes such success increases the sport’s chances of returning to the world’s favorite tournament.
“We are hoping that LA 2028 will extend an invitation [to lacrosse] to play,” she said.
If invited back, it would mark the sport’s return to the Olympics since being cut in 1908.
Battling other nations follows working with other nations, too. Loh was a Zoom extraordinaire before the pandemic, holding digital meetings with members from different countries in PALA and across the world. Her frequent calls ushered her fascination with how different cultures communicate, converting her side hustle into research for her academic position at FSC.
“I turned it into what I teach in intercultural communication because I find the notion of representation so fascinating, especially if you look at lacrosse,” she said. “The fact that right now, the Native American team (the Haudenosaunee) are still trying to fight for their right in the Olympics as a sovereignty– I find it so fascinating to observe, to read, to study.”
Then came another position, World Lacrosse Diversity, Opportunity and Inclusion Commision. With her colleagues, she composed the first-ever DEI statement and is currently working on the transgender policy.
“It is such a privilege to be involved with people not just involved in sports, but knowledgeable and expert people that do this every day,” she said. “Being able to work in topics that are relevant and current to our athletes, I find it very humbling and very rewarding.”
Relevant to young people like her sons. And though her sons wait to try out for the 2023 Peruvian national team, she’s excited to be the team’s number one fan with or without their participation.
They introduced her to a world she loves and she’ll never leave.