Sports with Chuck McGill Dedicated to the stats and the silly in sports

Lacrosse’s popularity

About a decade ago I worked for a newspaper in Virginia and hired a former collegiate lacrosse player as one of my sportswriters. On one of our rare, empty Saturdays, he took me to a nearby Division III school and tried to show me how to play lacrosse.

It did not work.

It’s not because I don’t have hand-eye coordination or lack athleticism. I found it a challenging sport to pick up later in life. What it did do, however, was give me a new perspective of the sport. It wasn’t that I didn’t respect the sport previously, but I had no point of reference to sculpt an opinion.

That seems to be the story of lacrosse here in West Virginia. I was born here and raised here and had no idea about the sport. That’s changing.

In Wednesday’s Charleston Gazette-Mail I wrote about George Washington’s club lacrosse team, which is in the state semifinals this weekend and two steps away from a state championship (click to read!). They’re a tremendous story, a program started in 2008 that has steadily grown in the years since, but they’re also part of a smaller story about lacrosse in the Mountain State. I felt the need to try and tell that story, too, because it’s important.

“I’d say it’s a sexy sport,” Maloney said. “It’s got the movement of football, it’s got the endurance of soccer, it’s got the hitting of hockey, it’s got the scoring of basketball. Everybody loves scoring.

“When you take a sport like lacrosse that involves all of that, it’s really fun and people gravitate toward it.”

It’s clear that the sport is experiencing a boon in our beloved little state right now. There are now 31 boys and girls lacrosse teams at the prep level. The Charleston YMCA is pulling in kids from all over the Kanawha Valley and grooming them to be tomorrow’s stars. The area is producing All-Americans now. Student-athletes are parlaying their skills into scholarships.

It’ll be interesting to see how much it can grow here. The passion is undeniable … and growing.