I was walking back from picking up a sandwich for lunch today, when I heard music coming from the direction of Joe Walton Stadium, so I decided to take a peek and see what was going on. Turns out it was a junior varsity lacrosse match between Robert Morris University and Mercyhurst North East. I’d never been to a live lacrosse match before, so I decided to sit down with my lunch and watch for a while—and I’m glad I did.
If you’ve never been to a lacrosse match before, it’s really something to see. It’s sort of a mixture of hockey, soccer, basketball, and that cool game you play on the beach with those plastic racquets and ball—only a lacrosse ball is made of hard rubber that can knock your lights out if you’re not paying attention.
I was amazed at the skill and grace the players displayed in tossing and catching the tiny rubber ball with just a stick with a small net at the end. (Actually, “tossing” may not be the appropriate word; “whipping” or “hurling” would be more accurate.) And if that seems difficult, if not impossible, to you, try doing it while being incessantly whacked at, hammered, and harassed by members of the opposing team. Lacrosse certainly isn’t for the faint of heart.
I did a little research on the game when I got back to my office. According to uslacrosse.org, the name “lacrosse” comes from the French term for “any game played with a curved stick” or “crosse.” The sport has its origins in ancient times and is derived from a variety of stickball-type games that were once played by native peoples throughout North America. George Beers detailed the playing techniques of the Mohawk peoples in his Lacrosse (1869). James Mooney, in the American Anthropologist (1890), provided a description of what he called “[Eastern] Cherokee Ball-Play,” including details about the game’s rules and elaborate rituals.
Today, lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, with more than half a million players. And RMU’s team is steadily becoming a lacrosse powerhouse.
While I was there, RMU scored two goals and kept Mercyhurst from even attempting a single shot. When I got back to my office, I gave Head Coach Kenneth “Bear” Davis a call and found out that the team ended up winning with a score of 19-3. This is Davis’s sixth season with the team since being named the program's first head coach in 2004, and so far, the team remains perfect.
You really never know what you’ll see here when you’re walking around campus.
Lacrosse at RMU…who knew?
—Valentine J. Brkich