• SportsKnowHow.com - HISTORY OF LACROSSE

    The history of Lacrosse began among North American Indian tribes. As early as the 1400s, the Iroquois, Huron, Algonquin and other tribes were playing the game. In its beginnings lacrosse, then called baggataway, was a wide-open game that was part religious ritual and part military training.

    A Whole Lot of Sticks

    The game has always required tremendous athletic skill. In early games, just running up and down the field was a great feat. Goals could be as far as 500 yards to half a mile apart and no sidelines limited the playing area. Games lasted two to three days with “time outs” between sundown and sunup. Teams had as many as 1,000 players vying to move a small, deerskin ball past their opponent’s goal. Players used three- to four-foot long sticks with small nets on the end to throw, catch and carry the ball. With all of those sticks and only one ball, a lot of extra-curricular activity occurred.

    Lacrosse had spiritual significance for the Native Americans. A match started with a face off during which players would hold their sticks in the air and shout out to get the gods’ attention. Games were sometimes played to appeal to the gods for healing or to settle disputes between tribes. A game of lacrosse was even once used as a military ploy.

    The Lacrosse Ambush
    The Sauk and Ojibway Indian Tribes staged a lacrosse match outside the gates of Fort Michilimackinac in what is now Michigan. The Indian women stood near the fort with weapons hidden under their shawls and blankets. The men moved the action of the game toward the fort and, whoops, sent the ball over the wall. The Indians threw down their lacrosse sticks, took up the weapons and stormed the fort.

    French missionaries are responsible for giving the sport its name. Missionaries thought the stick used by Canadian Indian tribes looked like the crosier, or le crosse, carried by bishops.

    A National Pastime 
    In the 1840s, French settlers in Canada took up the game. A match between a French team and Indian team was played at Montreal’s Olympic club in 1844. The Montreal Lacrosse Club was founded in 1856 and established the first written set of rules. These rules set standard field dimensions (no more 880-yard fields) and team size. (Hundreds of players were just a few too many for umpires to keep track of. Ten per side worked better.)


    This drawing depicts the 1763 ambush of a British Fort by Indians during a staged lacrosse game
    (Click image to enlarge)


    Lacrosse face-off
    circa 1877
    (Click image to enlarge)

    A Canadian dentist, George Beers, is designated the father of modern lacrosse. He revised the rules and it was his set of rules that was adopted by the National Lacrosse Association of Canada when it was in 1867. Lacrosse became so popular in Canada that it was named the national sport. (Bet you thought Canada’s national sport was hockey. Ice hockey actually patterned its rules after lacrosse and most early hockey players also were lacrosse players.)

    From Canada, lacrosse spread to the United States, England, Ireland, Scotland and Australia. The first international lacrosse match was played in 1867 between Canada and the United States. Eight years later a Canadian touring team went to Britain. Olympic medals in lacrosse were award in 1904 and 1908. Canada won both golds. Though lacrosse was a demonstration sport at the 1928, 1932 and 1948 Olympics, it has not returned to medal-sport status.

    NCAA Lacrosse Champions - Men

    Year

    1971

    1972

    1973

    1974

    1975

    1976

    1977

    1978

    1979

    1980

    1981

    1982

    1983

    1884

    1985

    1986

    1987

    1988

    1989

    1990

    1991

    1992

    1993

    1994

    1995

    1996

    1997

    1998

    1999

    2000

    2001

    2002

    2003

    2004

    2005

    2006

    2007

    2008

    2009

    2010
    2011
    2012
    2013 

    Champion

    Cornell

    Virginia

    Maryland

    Johns Hopkins

    Maryland

    Cornell

    Cornell

    Johns Hopkins

    Johns Hopkins

    Johns Hopkins

    North Carolina

    North Carolina

    Syracuse

    Johns Hopkins

    Johns Hopkins

    North Carolina

    Johns Hopkins

    Syracuse

    Syracuse

    Syracuse

    North Carolina

    Princeton

    Syracuse

    Princeton

    Syracuse

    Princeton

    Princeton

    Princeton

    Virginia

    Syracuse

    Princeton

    Syracuse

    Virgina

    Syracuse

    Johns Hopkins

    Virginia

    Johns Hopkins

    Syracuse

    Syracuse

    Duke
    Virginia
    Loyola