History of Lacrosse

History of Lacrosse

This page focuses on the history of lacrosse. It looks at where and when lacrosse was invented, why the game is called lacrosse, when lacrosse became a college game and much more. To learn about past lacrosse champions, please visit our page on D1 College Lacrosse Champions.

Lacrosse History – Key Dates & Events

  • Lacrosse was invented in the 1100s by Native American tribes based in the northeast and plain states of present-day Canada and USA. The original version of lacrosse involved hundreds of men playing the game with a ball and sticks. Moreover, these very physical games were played without any protective gear.
  • Lacrosse was played by Native American tribes for a variety of reasons including settling tribal disputes (versus going to war), toughening up warriors, recreation, religious reasons, etc.
  • The name “lacrosse” came from a French missionary, Jean de Brébeuf, who watched the Iroquois playing this game in the 1630s. “La Crosse” is French for the stick.
  • In contrast, since this was a tough game, Native Americans had some more colorful names for the game. For example, the Mohawks called it the “little brother of war”.
  • In the 1800s, lacrosse started to be played at Canadian colleges.
  • The first United States college/university to add lacrosse as a sport was New York University in 1877.
  • Lacrosse was an Olympic sport at the 1904 and 1908 Olympics.
  • Lacrosse is not popular enough on a global basis to be in the modern Olympics. However, lacrosse is played in a wide variety of countries such as Canada, USA, Australia, England, Japan, Germany, etc. For example, 38 nations participated in the 2014 World Lacrosse Championship (which was held in Colorado).
  • Box lacrosse was created in Canada in the 1930s. “Cool” (pun intended) history fact – The reason for the creation of box lacrosse… the cold & snow of Canada forced lacrosse indoors in order for lacrosse players to enjoy a longer season!
  • The first NCAA D1 men’s lacrosse championship was held in 1971.
  • The first NCAA D1 women’s lacrosse championship was held in 1982.
  • In 1998, US Lacrosse was formed. US Lacrosse is the governing body for men’s and women’s lacrosse in the United States.
  • Major League Lacrosse (MLL) was formed in 2001.

History of Lacrosse

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