An exhilarating sport, lacrosse is fast-paced and full of action. Long sprints up and down the field with abrupt starts and stops, precision passes and dodges are routine in men’s and women’s lacrosse. Lacrosse is played with a stick, the “crosse”, which must be mastered by the player to throw, catch and scoop the ball.
Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing team sports in the United States. Youth participation in the sport has grown over 500% since 1999 to nearly 250,000. No sport has grown faster at the high school level over the last 10 years and there are now an estimated 200,000 high school players. Lacrosse is also the fastest-growing sport over the last six years at the NCAA level, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are more than 500 college club programs, including nearly 200 women’s teams that compete at the US Lacrosse Intercollegiate Associates level.
With a history that spans centuries, lacrosse is the oldest sport in North America. Rooted in Native American religion, lacrosse was often played to resolve conflicts, heal the sick, and develop strong, virile men. To Native Americans, lacrosse is still referred to as “The Creator’s Game.”
New York University fielded the nation’s first college team in 1877, and Philips Academy, Andover (Massachusetts), Philips Exeter Academy (New Hampshire) and the Lawrenceville School (New Jersey) were the nation’s first high school teams in 1882. There are 400 college and 1,200 high school men’s lacrosse teams from coast to coast.
The first women’s lacrosse game was played in 1890 at the St. Leonard’s School in Scotland. Although an attempt was made to start women’s lacrosse at Sweet Briar College in Virginia in 1914, it was not until 1926 that Miss Rosabelle Sinclair established the first women’s lacrosse team in the United States at the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, Maryland.
Men’s and women’s lacrosse were played under virtually the same rules, with no protective equipment, until the mid-1930s. At that time, men’s lacrosse began evolving dramatically, while women’s lacrosse continued to remain true to the game’s original rules. Men’s and women’s lacrosse remain derivations of the same game today, but are played under different rules. Women’s rules limit stick contact, prohibit body contact and, therefore, require little protective equipment. Men’s lacrosse rules allow some degree of stick and body contact, although violence is neither condoned nor allowed.