Thanks for subscribing! Please check your email for further instructions.
By John Cardullo, sportswriter
Cross your sticks and jump in, Girls
Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in the Country. It began as a fad
in this area about 10, maybe 12 years ago. The sport has been played by both
men and women in some fashion or other for hundreds of years. Changing and
evolving throughout the years. Currently Lacrosse is being played in record
numbers across the country. You can find Lacrosse being played in recreation
leagues and house leagues, in both high school and college. This “fad” sport is
hundreds of years old and has been one sport that women could play since they
began playing in the 1600s. For Lacrosse, the sport never looked back.
To understand the sport of Lacrosse,
we must look back at its beginning. Lacrosse originally began in 1636 when the
Jesuit Missionary Jean de Brebeuf got the ball rolling. The sport was played by
both Canadians as well as Native Americans from 1794 to 1867 when Dr. William
G. Beers finalized the first set of playing rules. A dentist by trade, Beers
used balls made entirely from wood and sticks carved to look like giant spoons.
There was no netting, so ball handling was in fact a skill. No protective gear
which certainly helped in his dental practice. It is considered an American
sport that was invented by American settlers and native Americans.
Games would often last for days, as
a means of settling inter-tribe disputes and betting on games was encouraged. In
1867 Queen Victoria watched and endorsed the game, and some said she indulged
herself in playing the sport. Scotland became the birthplace of women’s
Lacrosse. Early on the girls’ game consisted of the ball being rolled along the
ground, but later evolved into an aerial sport. In the early 1800’s it became
Canada’s pastime, the rough weather made it impossible to play during the late
autumn, winter, and early spring months, so using many of the rules that were
established in Lacrosse, the Canadians modified the game to be played on ice
and hockey was born. While in the United States, New York became the first
state to have a college team establish a lacrosse team. So, in other words – we
didn’t start the fire.
As the men became established in the
sport, the ladies were not very far behind; in 1890 the first Women’s lacrosse
game was played in St. Andrews Scotland, and you thought the St. Andrews is
only known for golf. In 1904 and 1908 Lacrosse was included in the Olympics but
dropped, yet it continued to be a sport in the World Games. In 1926 Rosabelle
Sinclair established women’s lacrosse in the United States and is considered
the mother of women’s lacrosse in America. She started a school team in
Baltimore, Maryland. The first United States Women’s Lacrosse Association is
formed in 1931 and women’s rules for the game were created. Two years later in
Greenwich, Connecticut the first women’s National Championship Tournament is
played. In 1971 the NCAA offered Lacrosse as a varsity sport, but in 1982 the
first ever NCAA Women’s National Championship is played between UMASS and
Trenton State. From 1990 to the present, Women’s Lacrosse has made its way to
the World Stage, winning Federation and World Cups.
In the last 10 years Lacrosse
locally has begun a grassroots effort to offer the sport to girls at the
youngest of age, and Women’s Lacrosse has become the fastest growing sport in
Thanks go out to Kerri Kelleher who
began Flare Lacrosse. Rhode Island is right up there
leading the pack! “The need for services for young women has skyrocketed over
the past few years,” said Kelleher, who has been coaching youth sports for 10
years. “As a Mom I watch and coached my own children in playing sports and I
have seen a dramatic jump and changes in young women’s athletics in recent
years. “Pointing out that friendships, school, home, and preteen to age ten have
a profound effect on young women. As a high school Lacrosse coach at the Rocky
Hill School, Kelleher realized that being successful on the athletic field, the
girls need to be supported in their daily lives. “I am committed to having
lacrosse and sports as an outlet and safe place for the players as they
discover new things and develop their skills and becoming their best selves. ”
If you go onto the Flare Lacrosse website their mission statement says it all. Watching
Kelleher conduct practices and games and listen to her speak to the girls, it
is obvious that she fully believes in the positive approach.
Her instructions to the players were
much like every pro player, corrections were pointed out in a positive light
and support for each of the players was refreshing. Kelleher points out that
Flare Lacrosse is committed to the development of strong girls/women athletes.
“We understand that what happens off the field is just as important as what
happens on the field. Our model focuses on friendship, kindness and supporting
each other to build a stronger young woman, both inside and out.”
Kelleher points out that to start to
play Lacrosse doesn’t cost a lot of money, “All you need to get started is the
player needs a stick, mouth guard and protective goggles. Cleats are suggested
for outdoor play while sneakers or rubber sole athletic shoes are fine for
indoors. “When asked about helmets and other protective padding, her response
was, “rules prohibit sticks from entering a protective zone around the head,
and goggles and mouth guards usually do the trick in the girls/women’s game.
Player contact is not allowed, but it does happen. You would be amazed that in the
female players game there is very little stick related injuries. The players
all seem to abide by an unwritten code and if they are coached properly there
are no issues. Although Women’s Lacrosse has been around for hundreds of years,
the resurgent of young girls and women has happened only in the last dozen, and
each year the sport is growing in record pace bringing in record numbers or
participants. Schools and Colleges offer Lacrosse as a scholarship varsity
sport, at the high school level female athletes are being drawn into this “new”
sport and on the youth level, organizations such as Flare are popping up throughout
the country and are creating youth programs that rival AAU and the Premier
youth leagues in all sports and soon may take over those other sports.
If you are interested in Flare Lacrosse and would like more information about either girls Lacrosse or Flare Lacrosse, please go to www.flarelacrosse.com or go check out a live game on Sundays from 11 am to 1pm at Teamwork’s on Jefferson Blvd, in Warwick Rhode Island.