There is a lot of giggling on the field this afternoon. The sun is dropping almost as fast as the autumn leaves, but the air is comfortable enough for the players wearing shorts. Coach Wes Davis has called a special November practice. The giggling surges again as additional players come onto the field. Parents say all that giggling is one difference between girls lacrosse and boys lacrosse. They point to the girls adjusting goggles and mouthpieces, putting on cleats and picking up their sticks. That’s another difference: the amount and cost of equipment. Girls’ lacrosse is more a game of finesse and less a game of physical aggression than the boys’. As the giggling subsides, however, play turns serious, and with a clacking of sticks, cries of ‘get it!’ and ‘call it!’ resound, and practice begins.
Lacrosse originated as a Native American game played by tribes of the Iroquois nation in New York State. There is a North Carolina connection, though. The Tuscaroras of Eastern Carolina shared ancestry with the Iroquois and eventually migrated back to reunite with them. Still lacrosse is thought of as a northern game, but one that is rapidly gaining popularity in this region. According to Davis, most cities in North Carolina offer lacrosse in the schools. That's his goal for Fayetteville.
Parent Scott Menoher (Colleen, Delaney) played lacrosse in college at Denver. His wife August was a team manager. Menoher, who coaches boys lacrosse at a local school, said “The sport is ready to grow, it just needs the adult leaders, refs, coaches.”
A lacrosse game has a 25-minute first half, followed by a 10-minute halftime, then another 25-minute second half. Like other sports, there are fouls and time-outs. The whistle can stop play at any time. Lacrosse even has a 3-second penalty similar to basketball. Each goal scores 1 point, with an average game score usually running around 7-13. Girls' lacrosse is primarily a non-contact sport, with checking (blocking one stick with another) allowed in varying degrees based on player ages. There is no checking at all at the elementary level. Parent Rob Corzette (Lainey) called boys and girls lacrosse “different as golf and football.”
Davis coaches girls with Lauren Bokmeyer through Fayetteville Parks and Recreation/Kiwanis. Players range from age 7 to 15. The team, known as the Fayetteville Flames, play spring, summer and fall. Spring, their main season with the Parks and Recreation, begins March 1st. They train and attend clinics at places like Campbell and Methodist universities. Two or three teams are assembled, composed of players in 6th grade through 9th grade. Summer play begins around Memorial Day, with practice in June and July and tournaments in August. The Fall season practices in September and October with tournaments in November.
Corzette works for the Parks and Recreation helping to develop the lacrosse program. He likes that “it embodies so many different sports all in one.” It’s exciting to watch and play, and he said it deserves its title as “Fastest Sport on Two Feet.”
The sport is empowering. It's great for long-term healthy lifestyles, because it builds endurance and stamina, and encourages participation in active sports. It builds character, too, with its emphasis on team play and coordinated effort.
Coach Davis loves what the sport does for girls, his own daughters (Patton, Kaye, and Mattie) included. “I think lacrosse gives a girl more of a tougher, ‘I’m puttin’ on a football helmet’ kind of feeling. It empowers them same as a boy putting on football gear.”
Chanda Mofu (Vanessa) likes the way the girls are encouraged to be supportive of each other. He told about a team meeting where a girl got up and said they had to work together and practice and support each other. "She said, 'No one person sucks, if we suck, it’s because we all do. We have to help each other.' ” He paused. “That girl was 11 years old.”
Coaches Davis and Bokmeyer are both former players. Davis played at East Carolina, while Bokmeyer played at Bryan University, Colorado. She also coached teams at Air Academy High School, Colorado. They are greatly appreciated by the parents, many of whom were lacrosse players themselves. Scott and August Menoher praised them both and added, “Wes Davis is a huge gift.”
Lacrosse is a good all-round sport. It uses players of many physical types, sizes, strengths and skills, just as it promotes many different positive health characteristics and skill sets. That makes it a true team sport, rather than a sport of elite players or stars.
“It’s a great team sport for girls," explained Coach Davis. "They get to use hand/eye coordination like in softball, combining that with the stamina of running, speed, and agility as you find in soccer and basketball. The different positions use different skills. The best girl players are those who master their stick skills and those who have speed and can run.”
Davis and Bokmeyer think the sport is great for anyone. The parents love it. The girls love it. Shannon Leach (Meghan) added “And they get to run with sticks.”