gaining popularity locally
Lacrosse Club introduces area players
to this centuries-old game
Helen E. McKinney
(October 2005) BUCKNER, Ky. One of the oldest games in North
America is now gaining popularity in Oldham County. Interest is so high
among many middle and high school age players that the Oldham Lacrosse
Club has been formed. These students enjoy a sport that was developed
by Native Americans as early as the 15th century.
and Ben Murphy are members of the
Oldham Lacrosse Club, which has boys
and girls teams with members
from all three area high schools.
A high school girls team was formed five years ago.
It already has won three out of four state championships. A high school
boys team was formed two years ago. Members are from all three
county high schools, with 30 varsity players on a team. Twenty players
also come from Oldham County middle schools, said Brummal Murphy. Murphys
husband, Jim, is assistant to the boys coach, Stu Bailey.
Lacrosse is a fast paced game, said Bailey, who is originally
from Baltimore. He compares it to basketball, with lots of high-scoring
action. When you get on the field, youd better be ready
to play, he said.
Bailey is a great facilitator, said Murphy. He is president of the Kentucky
Lacrosse Association, an independent group that he helped organize in
1998. It is not sanctioned by the state but sponsors teams if there
are not enough players to form their own school team. Bailey has enjoyed
playing lacrosse in the past and thought Oldham County could benefit
from such a sport.
Lacrosse is similar to football, hockey and baseball, all rolled into
one. The objective of lacrosse is to put a 5-ounce, hard rubber ball
in an opponents net with a long-handled stick that has a triangular
pocket at the end, while keeping an opponent from doing the same to
you. Goals are at both ends of the field.
Ten positions comprise a game of lacrosse for the boys team: goalie
(1), attackmen (3), midfielders (3) and defensemen (3). The girls
team has two additional midfielders. In previous centuries, games were
played by as few as 100 players or as many as 1,000 and lasted two to
three days, from sunrise to sunset. Lacrosse was played by Native Americans
not only for recreation but to settle tribal disputes and toughen warriors
Jesuit missionaries from France first encountered lacrosse in the 17th
century. Huron Indians played a game with sticks reminiscent of the
crosier (la Crosse) carried by bishops as a symbol of their office.
In the early 1800s, white settlers in Montreal took up the game, and
it became Canadas national sport. Canada introduced the game to
the United States, England, Ireland and Scotland.
All Oldham Lacrosse Club members live in Oldham County and practice
four days a week. Lacrosse is an in-between sport, said
Murphy. It fits nicely into the school schedule as an alternative sport
at a time when other sports are not offered, she said.
The Oldham Lacrosse Clubs home game field for the high school
team is located at North Oldham High School Stadium. The middle school
home field is at St. Frances School in Goshen. Admission to games is
The field for the boys teams is 110 yards long with goals 80 yards
apart. The girls field measures 120 yards long with goals 100
yards apart. The girls play a slightly different game, said Bailey.
Their games are not as physical, and they do not need to wear the padding
and helmets that the boys team wears.
Its a different game, rule-wise, said high school
girls coach Greg Dillon. The girls games are played with safety
in mind, with little body contact. There is much more strategy and finesse
in their game, said Dillon.
Dillon played lacrosse while in college in New England, and he also
played the sport with Bailey in the early 1980s. Baileys daughter,
Brittany, and Dillons daughter, Katie, have both taken up the
Katie Dillon said lacrosse is unique. No one really plays it.
It gives me a chance to have different relationships with girls from
different schools that I wouldnt normally have.
Sign-ups are held in the winter months, and an indoor league plays at
the Buckner YMCA. Practice begins in February, with games scheduled
March through May. The state championship is usually held the week before
The Oldham County team plays in the Kentucky Lacrosse Association High
School Division. For the past six to seven years, this Division has
had regular leagues at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville. In
2004, middle school players had to move to the high school division
to continue playing, and were assigned to teams willing to take them,
which meant they had to play for other schools. Certain schools, such
as Eastern High School, had their own teams.
The players provide their own equipment and pay a league entry fee of
$160, said Murphy.
This fee covers uniforms, field maintenance and membership in the U.S.
Lacrosse Association, the governing body of the national game. For teams
to be legal, the coach and players must be members of this association.
The sport is really growing on a collegiate level, said
Bailey. He hopes that more parents will get involved from a coaching
aspect. He sees coaching as one of the biggest holdups of the game;
not enough people are familiar with the game to assume the role of coach,
For more information, contact Stu Bailey at (502) 228-5825
or email@example.com, or Greg Dillon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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