As an 11-year-old growing up in Northeast Oklahoma, we learned about Native American heritage and the history of our state. Never once did lacrosse enter my vocabulary. The sport of lacrosse has been in America since before it was well, America. (1100 A.D. according to historians.) It also stakes claim as the oldest organized sport in the U.S.
Predominantly an East Coast sport, many Ivy League schools took up lacrosse in their earliest days. According to an article online: “The first U. S. intercollegiate game was played on November 22, 1877 between New York University and Manhattan College. Lacrosse had been introduced in upstate New York in the 1860s”
As we jump ahead 154 years, here we are playing lacrosse in Claremore, Oklahoma. In fact, some of us are even coaching it!
Like most young men in the middle of the country, I grew up playing football and basketball. Never would I have imagined I would have a son, he would grow tall and strong and his sport of choice would be lacrosse. Last year was the first season the sport was offered in this part of the state and the people came from all around to sign up. It was truly a blessing having zero knowledge of the sport.
Parents couldn’t get angry because they didn’t know the rules. Kids didn’t get bored because they were too focused on improving their hand-eye coordination and watching out for the ball flying at their heads.
My son loved every second of it. Running, hitting, smacking people with sticks, fast-paced play and those sweeeet looking helmets. There was no doubt he would play again this season; little did I know I would be co-coaching.
Admittedly my skills are on-level with a first-year player. (My stamina and breath, slightly less.) But believe it or not, a group of guys with absolutely no playing experience have helped mold these kids into pretty solid little players.
The beauty of coaching a sport you know so little about is you are forced to focus on the basics. As anyone that has played any sport can tell you, those are the most important aspects of the game. If you can do the simple things without even thinking about them, it allows you to improve on the more advanced skills down the road.
Coaching can be a challenge. Dealing with personalities, parents, schedules and all the other non-game related issues are the most difficult parts. Practice is a time to get everyone organized and aware, games are in the hands of the kids. If they are having fun and getting better every game, we have succeeded.
I guess it doesn’t matter what our kids are into as long as we support them. If you haven’t had a chance to watch lacrosse, make the short trip over to Broken Arrow on a Saturday morning and check out the fastest-growing sport in America. You will not be disappointed!
I would do anything for my son. I just hope he doesn’t take up ballet. I was not built for a leotard.
-by Travis Peck