With the Premier Lacrosse League starting its inaugural season today (the first regular season match in the circuit’s history will be Archers LC vs. Chrome LC at Gillette Stadium at 1 p.m.), it’s as good a time as any to revisit the roots of my fascination with the sport.
Turns out, I stumbled upon it by accident.
I was a nerdy Alabama kid (although I did walk and play among the non-nerds when it came to athletics), and I went through a stage where I did a deep dive into Native American history.
My mother had told me that my maternal grandfather – who died before I was born — was a “full-blooded” Cherokee, so I wanted to know more about my heritage.
(In the interest of accuracy, let’s just say mom had an extremely active imagination and a genealogy search last year proved her story was fiction. My maternal roots are deep in England – with a dash of Wales thrown in – while paternally I’m Scottish down the line).
Anyway, history was a big early interest of mine, and one day I happened upon a book that had a chapter concerning lacrosse.
I learned that early versions of the game were played more than 900 years ago, and in some cases it was used as a training exercise for war. Lacrosse, in fact, translates to “little brother of war” in the Mohawk language.
I had zero interest in going to war, but I did want to learn the game – even though I didn’t know a soul who played or had any knowledge of it.
To me, however, it was like football with a stick – and I loved football.
So I got together with some of my friends and told them about what I’d read, and how cool it’d be to learn how to play it.
Of course in the days before the Internet you couldn’t go just online and order equipment.
And if I’d visited the nearest sporting goods store and asked if they had any gear for lacrosse I would’ve probably been asked to la-leave.
Fortunately, I was an innovative little guy.
Turns out all it took to make a lacrosse stick was a broom handle and fishing net. Throw in a little electrical tape, and you had yourself a serviceable game piece.
None of us had any problem finding what we needed, although standard fishing nets are much larger than a regulation lacrosse stick scoop.
Coming up with all the other makeshift equipment was easy.
Tennis balls worked fine, and I actually had some street hockey goals that easily served the same purpose for lacrosse.
And all of my friends had football helmets.
Thus, my buds and I became lacrosse players. Over time, we got even more elaborate (once we got hold of some lime and marked off a field), although our sporting weapons remained homemade.
To this day, I’ve yet to use a manufactured lacrosse stick to scoop up a manufactured lacrosse ball and fire it at a manufactured lacrosse net – a streak not likely to be broken.
However, the arrival of the PLL has me excited, especially coming on the heels of a terrific NCAA tournament.
The rules of field lacrosse have been tweaked to include a 100-yard field and 52 second shot clock, and considering it has signed many of the world’s best players, this could be the beginning of a bright new era for the sport.
This season features six clubs, runs for 14 weeks and makes stops in 12 different cities.
They won’t be playing with fishing nets attached to broom handles, but I still think it might bring back some cool memories.
(related content: http://adamsonmedia.com/out-of-left-field/premier-lacrosse-league-out-to-change-the-game/)