Lacrosse: A New South Florida Favorite Carl Foster 7 Oct 2013 no comments Lacrosse is one of the oldest team sports in North America. There is evidence that the traditional Native Americans originated stickball as early as the 17th century in Canada, which later evolved into what we know today as lacrosse. Lacrosse traditionally had many different purposes. It was used to settle inter-tribal disputes, to toughen young warriors for combat, for recreation as part of festivals, and even for religious reasons to collectively pray for something and give pleasure to the Creator. In 1876, Queen Victoria witnessed an exhibition game and was impressed saying, “The game of lacrosse is pretty to watch.” Her endorsement was enough for many English girls’ schools to adopt the sport in the 1890s. Lacrosse today Enter the 20th century, many high schools, colleges and universities adopted lacrosse as a league sport. The sport grew in popularity throughout the century, and minor leagues developed for box lacrosse and college lacrosse. Two professional leagues were created in 1987: Major Indoor Lacrosse League and the National Lacrosse League (NLL). In the summer of 2001, a professional field lacrosse league, Major League Lacrosse (MLL), was inaugurated and operates today with eight teams, as well as CBS Sports and ESPN national television contracts. There are no professional teams yet in Florida. South Florida a ‘hotbed’ for lacrosse South Florida, due to its great weather, has been a hotbed for several professional lacrosse athletes such as Casey Powell, Kevin Finneran and Michael Bolger to reside, coach and run lacrosse camps for many of the club and travel teams. Stephen Jara, a former Florida State University lacrosse top player and Spanish River High School lacrosse coach states, “ Florida has some of the elite club teams and is very competitive with groups like the Delray Beach Athletic Club Riptide program.” The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) has added lacrosse to its officially recognized high school sports, making lacrosse a sport that high schoolers can participate in officially just like football and baseball. The latest FHSAA boys lacrosse rankings show a strong field representing South Florida with Saint Andrews in Boca Raton at #1 followed by Jupiter Christian, St. Thomas Acquinas, Benjamin High, Boca Raton High at #7, Spanish River at #9 and Pine Crest at #10. Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish leading the way The Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) Sailfish lacrosse program, coached by Chris Southard, is now in its 12th year. Last year, the Sailfish qualified for the first time to compete at the MCLA National Tournament with the top 16 teams in the country. The Sailfish were lead by SELC offensive player of the year, Dominic Scalzo. PBA assistant lacrosse coach Justin Moe states, “Dominic, like most of our lacrosse players, has a great heart and focuses on giving back to the community by helping coach the youth to grow the sport of lacrosse.” PBA will host the upcoming Sailfish Shootout, a nationally recognized lacrosse tournament, in March of 2014 with top schools from around the country competing during spring break. FCA lacrosse camps starting in 2014 in South Florida Palm Beach Atlantic coaches Southard and Moe, plus area high school coaches from schools like Kings Academy, along with Gold Coast Fellowship of Christian Athletes area director James Pendleton, are in the works to launch a series of FCA camps to use lacrosse as a platform to mentor athletes and coaches while sharing the gospel. The first camp is projected for January 2-4, 2014. The camp will be for boys 7-15, and will be held at Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach. You may be surprised to learn that one of the greatest athletes of all time, Jim Thorpe – a native American – played lacrosse in high school. Also, Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, of the Cleveland Browns, was an outstanding lacrosse player at Syracuse and was quoted as saying, “If there had been a professional lacrosse league that could have matched the NFL, I would have played lacrosse.” Carl Foster is the host/founder of “The Good Sports Magazine Show” airing every Monday LIVE from 6-7pm ET worldwide on GraceNetRadio.com. He’s an executive committee Board member for the Gold Coast Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), MatchPoint Ministries, Inc., DeVos -Blum YMCA and 4Kids of South Florida. Leave a Reply Click here to cancel reply. You must be logged in to post a comment.