The History of Lacrosse

The History of Lacrosse goes back to the Native Americans. It went through many different phases, for example, it was already a discipline at the Olympic Games. If you want to know more details, such as how Lacrosse originated, why it was played, which was the first club, then read on. Here you can find the answers.

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The origin

Lacrosse was invented by the Native Americans of the East Coast and the Great Lakes, so in today’s Canada and the United States. In those early days the game has not been called lacrosse, it got this name much later. They called the game “Baggataway” or “Tewaraathon”, which means as much as “little brother of war”. The game was dedicated to the god of war. It served among other things to prepare for the war. When they played against other tribes it often ended mortally for some players. Because the entire tribes played against each other, there were also games with more than 100 players. The goal was often a stone or a tree. This game was not only played to prepare for the war in terms of the team spirit, moreover to solve disputes between two tribes.


Where does the name Lacrosse come from?

The game was mentioned for the first time by the french Jesuit missionary Jean de Brébeuf in Ontario 1634. The racket reminded him of a bishop´s stick and that’s why he named the game after the french word for bishop’s stick, namely La Crosse.

In the 19th century

It goes on in the history of lacrosse. In the 1850s lacrosse became more popular and also the whites began to be interested in this sport. In 1856 the first lacrosse club, the “Montreal Lacrosse Club”, was founded in France. In 1867 lacrosse began to revive properly.
In the same year the “Canadian National Lacrosse Association” was founded. The team number increased from 6 to about 80.
Timeline to the 19th century in the history of lacrosseEven in the USA the first clubs were opened and 1879 the governing body of the United States was founded.
Also 1867 the game began to gain a foothold in England. 1874 lacrosse came to Australia in 1878 to New Zealand.
In 1890, the first women’s lacrosse game took place at the convent school St. Leonards in Scotland. A nun was reading about the sport and thought that would be something for her girls.

In the 20th century

Up to the 1930s lacrosse was played by women as by men without protective equipment and with almost the same rules. In the 1930s the rules at men lacrosse changed greatly, which led to the big difference between the two genders. The women continued to play with the Native American rules. Until the turn of the century they were playing without fixed sidelines. They only had a clue how a row of trees, a bush or a meadow.

In 1904 at the Olympic Games in St. Louis and at the Games in London in 1908 lacrosse was a competition discipline for men. 1928 in Amsterdam, 1932 in Los Angeles and 1948 in London it was in the Olympic demonstration competition. Thereafter you did not hear much of lacrosse. No one showed real interest in this sport. The only ones, who kept the sport alive, were the students of perp schools at the east coast of the United States. The sport was not well received because it was considered as a “sport of the elite” and therefore it was not open to all. Another reason for the downfall was there were only a few Native Americans, who were able to make lacrosse sticks. The history of lacrosse was not over at this point. With the introduction of the plastic heads, lacrosse was open to a wider public.

The National Lacrosse League (NLL) was established in 1987. It started with 4 Canadian and 5 US teams. 1994 lacrosse was appointed to a Canadain national sport.


How did lacrosse come to Germany?

Lacrosse reached Germany rather late, namely in 1993. In Munich and Berlin the exchange students Jörn Pelzer and Jörg Rohaus, who returned from the United States founded the first men teams.

In 1994 the first women lacrosse team was founded in Berlin. In the same year the annual Berlin Open were carried out for the first time. Also in the same year the German Men National Team took part at the Lacrosse World Championships.
1995 further associations were established nationwide, which enabled the German Championship that was even sponsored by Red Bull. This is showing how much attention this championship has energized, when even such a big company gave their money for it. After that, additional clubs have been established in Germany, which led to the foundation of the German Lacrosse Assocciation in 1998.

A highlight in the recent history of lacrosse was the German National Team winning the European Championship 2001.
The Men National Team took part at the World Cup for the first time in 2003. Four years later the Women National Team participated in the World Cup for the first time.
Meanwhile, we have three men leagues, four women leagues and two junior leagues under the organization “German Lacrosse Association” (DLaxV).



We hope you perceive the journey through the history of lacrosse just as interesting as we did and you could learn a lot here.

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