Sports: The Fastest Game on Two Feet

 

Written by Nathan Winfrey in the January 2011 Issue

Lacrosse has asserted a feverish hold on Edmond with astounding speed, growing from 93 players just four years ago, to a projected 400 players in 2011. “It’s been a phenomenal new sport to bring to the community,” says Edmond Lacrosse Club President Marc Anderson.

In 2006, Edmond Parks and Recreation opened an instructional program to teach the sport, while a parents’ organization raised support and maintained the fields. When the number of kids interested skyrocketed, Edmond Lacrosse incorporated as a non-profit organization and took over as the managing body. “We have a great group of volunteers who give a lot of time to the sport,” Anderson says.

Lacrosse integrates the best aspects of more traditional athletics, like the hand/eye coordination of baseball, the running and field presence of soccer, and the strategy plus positioning of basketball.
“It’s all the sports I love combined into one,” says 15-year-old lacrosse player Ryan Nielsen. The object is to put the ball in the opponent’s goal, and players use uniquely-designed sticks to move the ball from one end of the field to the other.

It would be wrong to call lacrosse a hybrid sport though, because it predates most others by a few hundred years. A millennium ago, lacrosse was played by up to 1,000 Native American men on fields like a rehearsal for war to keep warriors strong and athletic.

Field lacrosse today has 10 players on each side; the field is 110 yards by 60 yards; and the opponent’s goal is a net that is 6 feet high and 6 feet wide. A team consists of a goalkeeper, three defenders, three midfielders and three attackers. Box lacrosse is the indoor version, played on an iceless hockey rink, with six players on each team.

“There’s a lot of strategy,” Anderson says. “It’s very similar to soccer in that the defenders have to stay on their side of the field and the attackers have to stay on their side. The ‘middies’ are free to roam the whole field.”

Edmond Lacrosse offers activities for kinder-garten-age kids up through high school. In the boys’ program, the organization governs four high school teams, four fifth and sixth grade teams and four third- and fourth-grade teams. The girls’ program has one high school team, two middle school teams and two elementary school teams. Middle school and high school teams play against teams from Arkansas, Tulsa, Kansas and Texas.

“I think the sport is really great for kids. They’re able to adapt to it easily,” Anderson says. “Kids seem to really love the equipment, they love to suit up and they love the competition.”

Boys wear shoulder pads, helmets, gloves, and arm pads, among other gear. Girls wear goggles and mouth guards. Girls get to go lighter on the protective gear because while body-checking is allowed in the boys’ program, it is forbidden in the girls’ program.

“I like lacrosse because it’s fast-paced with lots of action,” says Edmond high school team member Damon Young.

Lacrosse is often called “the fastest game on two feet” because of the pace at which it can be played, but Anderson says the sport is great for any kid at any skill level. “If a kid likes to play sports, there’s a role for them on a lacrosse team,” he says.

Edmond Lacrosse offers a starter program, called “Scoopers” for kids in kindergarten through second grade. “It’s a fundamental, skill-based program, but the main thing we want to teach the kids is to love the sport,” Anderson says. “We have some really dynamic people out there who make it a lot of fun for the kids.”

The lacrosse season lasts from March through May. Edmond Lacrosse teams practice at Cheyenne Middle School, on the southeast corner of Kelly Avenue and Covell Road in Edmond. Registration for the spring season began December 15 and will end in mid-February. A reduced fee is offered until
January 16.

For more information, visit www.edmondlacrosse.com or become a fan on Facebook by searching for “Edmond Lacrosse.”

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