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So What Is Lacrosse Anyway?

Lacrosse, considered to be America's first sport, was born of the North American Indian, christened by the French, and adapted and raised by Americans and Canadians. Modern lacrosse has been embraced by athletes and enthusiasts of the United States and the British Commonwealth for over a century.

The sport of lacrosse is a combination of basketball, soccer and hockey. Anyone can play lacrosse--big or small. The game requires and rewards coordination and agility, not brawn. Quickness and speed are two highly prized qualities in lacrosse. 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 membership (ages 15 and under) in US Lacrosse has more than tripled since 1999 to nearly 100,000. No sport has grown faster at the high school level over the last 10 years and there are now more than 130,000 high school players. Lacrosse is also the fastest-growing sport over the last five years at the NCAA level and that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are more than 500 college club programs, the majority of which compete under the umbrella of US Lacrosse and its "intercollegiate associates" level.

Men's lacrosse is played on a field that is 110 yards long and 60 yards wide. The game lasts for 60 minutes at the college level. There is a half time of 10 minutes, after the first two 15 minute quarters. Each men's lacrosse team has 10 players: a goalie, and three each of defensemen, midfielders and attack men.

Each game begins with a center face-off, and as in soccer, only the goalie can touch the ball with his hands. Although lacrosse is considered a contact sport, players can commit technical and personal fouls for unusual roughness and stick checking.

Lacrosse has its origins in the Native American culture. It is considered the oldest North American sport. When the Native American tribes played lacrosse, the field could be any where from one to 15 miles long and last for days. lacrosse was thought to make men strong, and therefore better warriors. Some tribes would "play" lacrosse with as many as 1000 men on each side of the field. They would scoop the ball, then made of wood, stone, deer skin or clay, and fling it to another team member while running toward the goal. The early lacrosse goals were either a single pole or a set of poles through which they would throw the Lacrosse ball.

Modern-day lacrosse has been greatly influenced by the record of a game made by a Jesuit Missionary named Jean de Brebeuf. The game was played in 1636 in what is now Ontario, Canada and followed a pattern similar to lacrosse's current game.