A couple of days back, while I was catching up with an old friend whom I used to play lacrosse with, I realized that even though I played lacrosse for 15 years and have been a fan for well over a decade, I didn’t know much about the facts and history of lacrosse.
So, I decided to do some research and learn more about the origins of lacrosse and found out many interesting and fun facts about lacrosse. From there, I thought it would be great to share them with my readers.
So after a few days of deep dive and research, I learned a ton about its history and how lacrosse became a such popular sport in the US.
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10 Fun Lacrosse Facts You Didn’t Know
In this section, I’ll be sharing with you 10 fun lacrosse facts that you might have never thought about. Spoiler alert: You will be surprised by many of these facts! Without further ado, let’s get started.
If you assumed lacrosse to be a modern day invention, you would be surprised to learn that lacrosse is actually the oldest sport played in North America. Even before colonizers first set foot on the continent, indigenous people already established lacrosse to be a popular sport.
Lacrosse was first played by the Native Americans for many reasons, namely recreational and bonding purposes. It helped villagers from different traditions and backgrounds to get together which became the thread that coalesced different tribes.
Moreover, asides from just bringing people from different tribes together, lacrosse was used to prepare young men for war.
The game was wild without safety rules in order to train the players in preparation for the war ahead.
Later on, European colonizers altered the game and rules to a great extent, which then resulted in the form we are familiar with today. On top of that, the United States continued to refine and improve the rules to facilitate the safety and comfort of lacrosse players. Lacrosse is now played for competition and recreation only.
Lacrosse was also used in warfare. In the summer of 1763, Native Americans wielded lacrosse as a tool against the British.
They lodged a lacrosse game in order to distract British soldiers who were huge fans of the sport so that they could seize the opportunity to launch a surprise attack.
On game day, they set up a match between two tribes. As the soldiers were deeply fixated on the proceedings of the game, the tribes were able to take the chance and capture the fort of Michilimackinac in northern Michigan.
Originally, Lacrosse was believed to be a God-given sport for the purpose of fun. It was also used as a tool for settling disputes hence widely embraced by the natives.
It was further seen as a means of healing people, war preparation as well as spiritual development.
Because of the multi-purposes lacrosse was given, the sport was introduced to every tribe and every inch of land in North America. It was especially popular among players from far and remote villages to promote unity and peace. It’s safe to say lacrosse brought indigenous people together in the midst of turmoil and destruction wars created in their lives.
Although it is believed that women did not participate in lacrosse until the modern day (1890 to be exact), history states that they indeed had their own version of the sport originally known as amtahcha.
The only difference is that their lacrosse sticks were shorter.
Fast forward to today, women’s lacrosse is just as popular and competitive as men’s. However, the equipment they use and the rules for the games are different as there are twelve players on each women’s team while men have only ten players on each team.
In the early days of lacrosse, the balls were typically made out of wood. Later on, the wooden ball was upgraded to be made of deerskin and further stuffed with fur.
Compared to lacrosse balls, making lacrosse sticks requires a lot more skills and effort. Players would make their own wooden sticks that were topped with a net that was using either wattup or deer sinew. Because it took a lot of time and energy to make one lacrosse stick and players would use it for a lifetime, they would request to be buried with their stick upon death.
Thankfully, today laxers have many great lacrosse sticks options that are much more advanced with higher quality.
Lacrosse was not the initial name given to the sport. Historical record states that the sport was originally called baggataway by the Algonquin and tewaarathon by the Iroquois. The name Lacrosse was given by French settlers who noticed that the stick used to play looked like something that their church bishops carried at church known as Crozier or Crosse in French.
Subsequently, the name lacrosse was given to the game and the name remains ever since.
Lacrosse is fastly expanding. It’s adapted and widely played by over 50 countries across the world. These include countries like Jamaica, China and Latvia among many others.
It is one of the fastest-growing sports in all parts of the United States. This is believed to be so because the players can apply several skill sets that they gradually learn from other sports. The fact that height isn’t a barrier is an added bonus.
According to NCAA reports, over the past two decades, college lacrosse saw a 24% increase in the number of men’s lacrosse programs and a 65% in the number of women’s lacrosse programs.
On the high school level, we are also seeing explosive growth in the number of high school players in the US. Additionally, the cool gear, personalized sticks and thousands of watching fanatics are quite a lure for the youngsters.
It was the year 1881 that the first tournament of intercollegiate men’s lacrosse was held. Havard beat Princeton 3-0 and claimed the championship.
In the year 1882, the United States established the first high school teams. Phillips Academy Andover, Philips Exeter Academy and the Lawrenceville School are the first high school teams that got established that year.
It was the year 1926 that the first female lacrosse team was established at the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, Maryland despite a failed first attempt made in 1914.
Did you know the original lacrosse games had anywhere between 100 to 1000 players at a time on a field that was nearly two miles long?
Modern lacrosse has evolved so much from how lacrosse used to be played and now they don’t seem to bear any resemblance.
What’s more? Lacrosse matches used to last a very long time. It began from the moment the sun went up to when it went down and could go on for two or three days straight.
Additional Fun Lacrosse Facts
1. The Wood Stick Classic is an annual lacrosse game that’s played between Manhasset and Garden City high schools. It is the longest standing lacrosse rivalry in the US ever since the first match in 1935.
2. Did you know that there are more than 360 college men’s Lacrosse programs in the country today? This is nearly a 30% increase record in the last five years.
The number is expected to keep growing with time given the popularity of the sport. At this rate, I hope we will see lacrosse return to the Olympics in the near future.
3. Did you know that Maryland, the winner of the 2017 NCAA Final Four, suffered a series of nine championship losses before finally beating Ohio State in the year 2017?
This goes to show that sports are very similar in that persistence is what it takes to be a winner.
4. Of all the colleges that participate in college lacrosse tournaments, Syracuse University has won the most titles, taking home 10 championships in total. Although it hasn’t taken home the title since 2009, the Orange continues to be a commanding force in men’s college lacrosse.
5. Injuries are common in any physical sport and lacrosse is one sport that pays the most attention to protection and safety.
In fact, the rate and severity of injury have continuously remained at an all-time low. As a result, lacrosse has been ranked among the top 3 safest sports by NCAA.
Share More Fun Lacrosse Facts
I am confident you now know more about lacrosse than when you first clicked on the post.
Do you have any additional facts that you’d like to share with us? Please put it in a comment below so that we can help more people to get to know lacrosse!
4 thoughts on “10 Fun Lacrosse Facts About Its History and Origins”
Thanks for this article it is very interesting and helpful
this was helpful for a writing test I had thanks.
Many people dont know that Lacrosse is Canadas National Sport because they assume Hockey is!
Penn State won the Big Ten Championship in 2020. Went on to play Yale. Why didn’t you mention that in your article since it was historic??