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The History of Lacrosse

Where Did Lacrosse Start?

Lacrosse has been around for centuries.  In fact, according to UsLacrosse lacrosse is considered to be America's first sport.  The documented history is a bit scarce but it is believed to have begun with the North American Indians where it was referred to as "The Creator's Game".  American Indians played to give thanks to the gods, resolve conflicts between tribes, appeal to the gods to heal the sick, prepare for battle or to develop young men.  Legend tells us that games lasted several days and goals could be a mile apart with no side boundaries.  Teams had as many as 1,000 players, and a goal could be as simple as a tree or rock, or as sophisticated as two goalposts.  Balls were made of stone, bone, baked clay, wood or baked clay.  Sticks were 3 or 4 foot long with a small triangular net on the end to catch and carry the ball.  This ancient game was extremely violent.

How Was the Name Lacrosse Established?

The Jesuit missionaries are believed to have given the name Lacrosse to the sport in the 17th century.  Jesuit missionary Jean de Brebeuf is first to document the game.  The sticks were said to resemble a staff or crosier carried by the Jesuit Bishops.  The French word "crosse" is believed to be derived from crosier which was used to described the Indian stick.

How Did Lacrosse Become Popular?

In the 1800s it is believed that approximately 48 Native American tribes in the United States and Canada played the sport.  It was at this time that the French settlers in Canada began to take an interest in the game, and in the1850s a level of organization started with some rules developed to define field dimensions and team size.  However, it was in 1867 that W. George Beers, who became known as the father of modern lacrosse, finalizes the first set of game rules.  He revised the rules and created the standards that were adopted by the National Lacrosse Association of Canada.  The sport became  popular in Canada with the formation of lacrosse clubs and it was ultimately named the Canada's national sport.  The popularity of the sport grew and spread throughout the United States, Scotland, England, Ireland, and Australia.

When Did Lacrosse Start in Schools?

In 1877, New York University is the first college in the United States to field a lacrosse team.  It was followed in 1882 by high school teams.  The first women's lacrosse game was played in Scotland at St. Leonard's School in 1890.  In 1926 the first women's lacrosse team was established in the United States at the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, Maryland. 

Men and Women's Lacrosse Today...

Men and women's lacrosse was played using the same rules and regulations with no protective gear.  In the mid 1930s men's lacrosse began to evolve.  Today men's lacrosse requires protective gear and allows some degree of stick and body contact whereas women's lacrosse limits stick contact, prohibits body contact and requires little protective gear.  It is a fast-paced action filled sport that requires technique and skill.

Youth Lacrosse has become one of the fastest growing team sports in the United States.  High school and college participation has increased dramatically over the last ten years.