Women's Lacrosse keeps growing

A look at the Evolution of Lacrosse from "amtacha" to the Game they play today

On Saturday June 17th, the Lady Blue Knights joined 10 other lacrosse associations to celebrate Lacrosse Day in Durham, marking 150 years of lacrosse. This date also marked the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Lacrosse Association. On July 1st, Canada celebrated its 150th birthday. Lacrosse and Canada have been closely connected since both were born.

The day featured a variety of lacrosse games including the Brooklin Redmen, Clarington Green Gaels, and Whitby Warriors joining a variety of age group teams and associations in games throughout the day at the Iroquois Arena Complex. As opposed to sending their oldest teams, Lady Blue Knights featured their youngest rep players. Two U11 and two U13 teams played their league games on the field behind the arena. The U11 Elite and U13 Elite teams are the defending provincial champions and undefeated in league play.

Also known as the creator’s game or the ancient game, lacrosse is much much older than Canada. Known as baggataway or tewaarthon, lacrosse was played across North America by First Nations peoples. It was more than a game, lacrosse was played to settle disputes and in the place of warfare. It was also played for religious reasons, to honour the Creator and bring glory to the tribe.

Women were not allowed to play or even touch the men’s lacrosse sticks. Their role was restricted to supporting their men and tending to the wounded. In many areas, First Nations women did find a way however and a women’s version known as amtacha was played.

The modern game was born when the early European settlers observed and fell in love with the game. The religious and social aspects of the First Nation’s game was combined with the need for structure and rules of European Society. The modern game of lacrosse was born. The National Lacrosse Association was formed in 1867 with the motto: “Our County and Our Game”. Canada and lacrosse have grown together since that time as lacrosse became Canada’s national summer sport.

A game played between the Canghuwaya Indians and the Montreal Lacrosse Club in 1884, was pivotal in the development of women’s lacrosse. The game was close and highly competitive. The headmistress of St. Leonard’s School for Women in Scotland, Miss Lumsden watched the game and fell in love. She brought the game back with her and the first women’s game was played in 1890. Women’s lacrosse began to grow in Scotland and England and eventually was brought back to America by St. Leonard’s alumni Rosabelle Sinclair in 1926.

Women’s lacrosse in Canada and then Lady Blue Knights grew up quickly. In the first World Championship held in Nottingham England in 1982, Canada surprised everyone with a Bronze medal performance. Included on that team was Lady Blue Knights founder and current Executive Director, Barb Boyes. The speed and athleticism of the game, drew Barb in and a love affair was born. Lady Blue Knights was formerly founded in 2000 and grew quickly to become the largest and most successful Women’s Field Lacrosse organization in Canada, winning more than 42 Provincial Championships since 2000.

No club has contributed more players to Canada’s National Team than the Lady Blue Knights.

In the 2013 Senior World Championship held in Oshawa, Canada won its first ever silver medal supported by four Lady Blue Knight players. In the 2015 Under 19 World Championships held in England, Canada won its first ever gold medal. A key player on that team was Lady Blue Knight, Tessa Chad. Also supporting the team were Lady Blue Knight alumni Terri Rayner (assistant coach) and Mark Morissette (manager).

When the 9 to 12-year-old girls take the field on June 17th, they will only know how much fun it is to play lacrosse and call themselves Lady Blue Knights. A thousand years of history and the birth of a nation and its national sport will have brought them there.

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