Can't Beat It With a Stick
By Fred Bowen
Friday, April 9, 2004
Lacrosse is red hot. According to a survey by U.S. Lacrosse, the number of players on youth, high school and college teams grew 20 percent in just the last two years. So if you are getting into lacrosse, you're not alone.
I can see why lacrosse is becoming so popular. Once called "the fastest game on two feet," lacrosse features lots of running, scoring and head-spinning action. Since lacrosse is not as popular as soccer or basketball -- at least not yet -- lots of lacrosse teams are looking for new players instead of cutting kids who want to play.
Lacrosse players and fans around the D.C. area are lucky for another reason. Because right up the road on the Johns Hopkins University campus in Baltimore is the Lacrosse Museum and National Hall of Fame. I went last weekend, and it's a perfect day trip for anyone who wants to go "lax to the max."
The Lacrosse Museum and National Hall of Fame is not as big as the baseball, football or basketball halls of fame, but it has plenty of fun displays and timelines that show the history and development of the game. You can learn how the game was first played by American Indian tribes with hundreds of players, on fields that stretched for half a mile. Back then, the games lasted for days.
The exhibits also trace how the game used to be played with clumsy wooden sticks at just a few schools, to today's game with its lightweight plastic sticks and space-age men's helmets.
There's more. One display has a series of lacrosse helmets from 1928 to 1998. The early helmet looks like a padded hunting cap, complete with dorky earflaps. It's hard to believe they got anyone to wear one.
In the back, you can see the plaques of the Hall of Famers. These are the players, coaches and contributors who helped the sport grow. There's a special display for Jim Brown, the National Football League record-setting running back who was also an all-American lacrosse player at Syracuse University in the 1950s. Brown may have been the greatest football and lacrosse player ever.
If you time your visit right, you can step outside and see a real game at Johns Hopkins's Homewood Field. The Blue Jays are rated in the top 10 among men's and women's college teams, with arch rival Maryland coming up. You can check out the JHU schedules at hopkinssports.com.
If You Go The Lacrosse Museum and Hall of Fame is at 113 West University Parkway in Baltimore. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through May. Starting in June it's open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $3, and $2 for kids ages 5 to 15. More info: 410-235-6882 or www.lacrosse.org/museum.
Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's Friday sports column and is the author of sports novels for kids.