The sport began as “baggataway” in Canada in the mid-19th century. The Native American Cherokees called it “the little brother of war” because it was considered excellent military training. A team consisted of hundreds, even thousands, of players, often an entire village or tribe, carrying sticks with little baskets on the end. The goals were often miles apart, and a game might last as long as three days. French explorers who thought the stick resembled a bishop’s crozier — la crosse, in French – gave it its modern name. The Montreal Lacrosse Club, founded in 1856, developed the first written rules.
Players in Upstate New York began to play lacrosse about 1868, and seven colleges formed the first Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association three years later.
Now, the NCAA lacrosse finals draw crowds of 50,000 and the sport has received national attention as a viable, watchable, truly exciting sport.
There are large areas of the country where lacrosse is virtually unknown, but it has become popular in many other areas, Hawaii included, where it began to take hold at the end of the 1980s. Hawaii Lacrosse now is the official governing body for the sport in Hawaii. They are the Hawaii chapter of U.S. Lacrosse, the official governing body in the United States. The sport has definitely caught on in Hawaii, with some of the high schools currently fielding teams.
There are at least three lacrosse clubs active in the islands, comprised of both men and women, and the Hawaii Lacrosse Invitational tournament was founded in 1991.
This year’s tournament – now the 18th Annual – was held in late October at Kapiolani Park, welcoming men and women lacrosse players from across the globe as well as local players for a weekend of world-class lacrosse, live entertainment, free clinics and a big party at the end. Some 40 teams — 1,000 people — from the U.S. Mainland, Japan, Canada and Hawaii, were on hand for what is now considered to be the nation’s premier fall lacrosse tournament.
If you’re into the sport and presumed you would have to go without a fix while you vacation here, be advised that you can probably find a game if you check with one of the local clubs.