NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB are great team sports with tens of thousands of fans, but neither of these is the fastest growing team sport in America. Much to the surprise of many sports fans, the fastest growing team sport is lacrosse, with a growth rate of over 19% among high school girls and 15% among high school boys over the 5 year period from 2008 to 2013. There is an increase of lacrosse teams at the collegiate level too with the NCAA reporting that 64 colleges started new lacrosse teams in the 2012-2013 school year.
Lacrosse is believed to have been played as early as 1100 A.D. by Native Americans. By the 17th century, a similar game was documented by Jesuit priests in what is now Canada. The game has been modified over the years, with early accounts including a description of a 3 inch wooden ball and a 5 foot staff with a net on the end. Early lacrosse games had spiritual meaning, with players assuming warrior roles whose goal was to bring glory to themselves and the tribes they represented.
The first lacrosse club was founded in 1855 in Montreal by a Canadian dentist, William George Beers. Beers changed the rules so that there were only 12 players and games didn’t last as long. Lacrosse caught on and by the 1900’s, high schools and colleges had lacrosse teams. The game remained at an amateur level until 2001, when the Major League Lacrosse was formed in the USA.
Today there are four different types of lacrosse, including men’s field lacrosse, women’s lacrosse, box lacrosse, and intercrosse. Positions include midfield, defense, attack, and goalie.
Playing lacrosse requires a small rubber ball and a long handled stick known as a “lacrosse stick” or just “crosse” for short. Offensive players try to get the ball into their opponents goal using the mesh netting at the end of the stick. Defensive players try to keep the offensive players from getting the ball into the goal through positioning and stick checking.
One outstanding defensive player in lacrosse is Matt Landis who has played two seasons for Notre Dame. Landis was ranked #66 by “Inside Lacrosse Power 100 Freshmen”. He played 4 years of varsity lacrosse and was ranked as the 18th best defensemen in 2012. In addition he was named All American and first team all state during his last year of high school at Pelham Memorial.
As a freshman Matt Landis played in 15 games, picking up 23 ground balls and earning a monogram. As a sophomore, he played in 18 games, 17 of which he started in. He picked up 14 ground balls and was able to earn his second monogram. Landis, a 6 foot 2 inch, 195 pound junior, looks to be a starter for Notre Dame his third season. In addition, to lacrosse, he has excelled in football, academics, and community service.
Lacrosse is America’s growing sport. It will change and evolve as it gains more and more fans.