Very rarely does one family play such an influential role in a particular sport, but when it comes to lacrosse the Parker name has become synonymous with growing the women’s game in Australia.
Vivienne Parker-White spoke to Women Sport Australia about her upbringing in the world of lacrosse and how the career of her mother paved the way for her love of the sport.
“My mother Joy was one of the first female lacrosse players during the 1930s. At the time there were only two women’s teams in Victoria and she played for Williamstown,” said Vivienne, shown below awarding Lacrosse Australia Life Membership to her mother Joy.
Joy Parker was not only a player for Williamstown Women’s Lacrosse Club but also an office-bearer; she also held the role of secretary for the Victorian Women’s Amateur Lacrosse Association.
Women played lacrosse until the beginning of World War II and then all lacrosse stopped. When the men returned from war the men’s game resumed but not the women’s game.
“In the 1960s there was interest in re-forming a women’s league and my mother was at the centre of setting this up,” Vivienne explains.
Joy became the president of both the reformed Victorian Women’s Lacrosse Association and the Williamstown Women’s Lacrosse Club.
An inter-state competition commenced between Victoria and South Australia and later Western Australia joined the competition to make it a tri-state tournament.
When asked about her own start in lacrosse, Vivienne says the family influence began from a young age.
“I had a lacrosse stick in my hand from an early age and my first introduction was the whole family together stringing lacrosse sticks.”
Vivienne’s playing career began when she was 15 years old when she and her sister followed in her mother’s footsteps by joining the Williamstown Women’s Lacrosse Club.
Vivienne had an illustrious playing career where she went on to represent Victoria a number of times between 1968 and 1981, Captaining Victoria in 1974. She is shown above with her sister Leonie in 1980 when the team were Premiers.
One of the highlights of her career was playing for Australia in 1972 on a World Tour that featured matches in Hong Kong, England, Scotland, Wales & the USA.
“Being a part of this tour was not only a great playing experience but also an opportunity to make lifelong friendships with my tour teammates.”
During and after her playing career Vivienne has held a myriad of committee positions to further the game of women’s lacrosse across Victoria and Australia, just like her mother did.
“One of my proudest moments came when I was President of Women’s Lacrosse Australia and the Australia team won the 1986 Lacrosse World Cup. It was a big achievement for us after we narrowly missed out on winning it in 1982.”
“The other most proud moment for me was being able, as national President, to present my mother with her Life Membership award for Australian Women’s Lacrosse in 1989”.
Vivienne continues to remain very proud of the success that Women’s Lacrosse has achieved both on and off the field over the past few decades.
“Ten years ago the governing bodies of Men’s Lacrosse and Women’s Lacrosse in Australia unified to become the Australian Lacrosse Association. I sat on the board until late last year and it has always been pleasing to have strong female representation and focus throughout the sport.”
As a life member of Australian Lacrosse Association, a life member and patron of Lacrosse Victoria and a life member of Williamstown Women’s Lacrosse Club, Vivienne continues to remain involved and predicts exciting things for the sport. Vivienne is shown above with Lorna Rolley, who played lacrosse with her mother Joy in the 1930s, cutting the 50th anniversary cake for Victorian Women’s Lacrosse.
“There is an exciting push for lacrosse to be included in the Olympics, hopefully in 2028, but it’s likely there would be some rule changes to make the game more suitable as an Olympic Sport.”
Vivienne is also excited to see the development of lacrosse in schools across the country thanks to the Sport Australia After-School Sport program Quick Stix Lacrosse. The program has rolled out in Primary Schools and will also be beginning in Secondary Schools soon.
Above all Vivienne just wants the sport that she loves to thrive.
“I would love to see lacrosse grow and progress in Australia so that we can have representatives across all levels of competition both nationally and internationally.”
If you would like to learn more about lacrosse and how you can get involved visit http://lacrosse.com.au/.
To donate to the development of lacrosse in Australia visit http://www.lacrosseaustraliafoundation.com.au/.