From the sidelines
Lacrosse has become one of the fastest growing sports in the country, and this spring, local sports fans will get a taste of high school competition as both Christiansburg and Blacksburg high schools field a club team.
A large number of kids have tried out for the teams and are looking forward to contests with other schools from throughout western and central Virginia. Several high schools in the Roanoke Valley have added teams over the past three years, and Salem has had a team for over 20 years after starting one at the old Andrew Lewis High School.
According to United State Lacrosse Association, national participation topped 800,000 players on organized teams in 2015, the first time the sport passed that threshold.
In 2001, there were just over 250,000 players. The national association said there were several milestone moments two years ago including:
Participation at the high school level topped 300,000 for the first time;
- Ohio became the 20th state with its state high school association to adopt lacrosse as a full championship sport;
- The creation of the United Women’s Lacrosse League, the first women’s professional lacrosse league for the sport, was announced. The league began play last year.
While a student at Radford University, I learned a little about the sport and watched as RU knocked off the then number one team in the country, Roanoke College, on a rainy and muddy field on campus.
Since then, I have watched my share of games on television and have tried to learn more about the sport.
For the first time fans, things can be a little confusing, so I decided to give you a crash course in some of the terms and actions of the game.
Boys will play with 10 players on the field—three attackmen, three midfielders, three defensemen and a goalie.
Body checking is legal and encouraged by many people including coaches. Players will wear helmets, mouth guards, gloves, shoulder and elbow pads and often rib pads.
Sticks are 40 to 42 inches in length with longer ones for both defensemen and the goalie.
The field measures 110 yards and is 60 yards wide so in most cases games can be played within the confines of high school football fields.
Attack players score the goals, while defensemen are defined as just that.
The goal itself is six feet wide by six feet high, and like hockey, the goalie has a box responsibility in and around the goal.
There are such penalties as off-sides, and the goalie is responsible for directing the defense.
Again, both Christiansburg and Blacksburg will field club teams this spring so go out and enjoy a game.