The sport of lacrosse has long been considered the domain of boys and men with iron shins, but increasingly, girls are flocking to ‘The fastest game on two feet.’
This season, the Ridge Meadows Minor Lacrosse Association has seen a 20 per cent jump in the number of girls’ registering to play, and for the first time the local association is able to field a team at every age level of minor lacrosse, from novice to junior.
Wes Eaton is head of the Ridge Meadows Burrards’ girls’ lacrosse program and said there is a wealth of talent for local teams to draw from.
Eaton’s daughter Regan plays for the Burrards’ midget girls’ squad, and he said she enjoys the sport for its speed and physicality.
“It’s rough, but it’s not too rough,” he said.
Unlike boy’s lacrosse, there is no cross-checking allowed, although a “place-and-push” check is allowed. Because players are on their feet instead of skates, they can’t work up the speed to deliver the kind of bone-crunching body checks seen in hockey.
“It really takes the best of basketball and hockey,” said Eaton. “But it’s a lot cheaper to play than hockey, that’s for sure.”
The local association even supplies goalie gear to teams, while registration fees are kept to $200 for the season to encourage more girls to participate.
The sport is also gaining popularity among girls in other parts of the country, prompting the creation of a national bantam girls’ championship three years ago, and the addition of a midget national championships last year.
Having a national title to compete for has further encouraged interest in the sport, Eaton said.
He hopes to continue the growth of the local girls’ program and eventually emulate New Westminster’s program, which features two teams at most age levels.
To reach that goal, the local lacrosse association is encouraging its older female players to take on a mentorship role with the younger players.
Katy Clark and Amber Richmond of the junior girls team are coaching the novice Burrards’ team, while other players are helping out with practices. Members of the midget girls’ team visited local elementary schools to encourage young girls to take up the sport prior to the start of the season.
“There’s a real interest in it, which is great to see,” said. “We hope it continues to grow.”