Considered the "lacrosse heartland," Maryland has produced more hall-of-famers than any other state.
But why is lacrosse associated with Maryland?
History of Lacrosse
Native Americans dominated lacrosse before the sport sprawled American collegiate fields. The northeastern Haudenosaunee and Iroquois tribes called it the Creator’s game and it held deep spiritual associations.
It spread to Maryland in 1878 when Baltimore Athletic Club members competed in a track meet in Rhode Island and saw people playing lacrosse, subsequently bringing it to their home state shortly after.
The sport took hold at Johns Hopkins University in 1882, then traveled to the University of Maryland in 1910. Baltimore's Brynn Mawr School founded the first women's lacrosse team in 1926 before Johns Hopkins Women's Lacrosse represented the United States in lacrosse’s Olympic debut in 1928.
Lacrosse became the state’s official team sport in 2004. Maryland is home to three NCAA championship teams, national tournaments, USA Lacrosse headquarters and the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Museum. Maryland teams played 34 out of 50 NCAA championships since 1971.
“The thing that is unique about lacrosse in Maryland is that it is such a part of the fabric of the culture," University of Maryland head coach John Tillman said, "When you grow up almost every high school has it; it is so much a part of history. It is emphasized like football in Texas, Florida or Ohio. Here it is lacrosse and it's really special to be a part of a place that generation after generation you are handed a stick and learn to play the game."
Club lacrosse athlete Lindsey Menzel has 12 years' experience, inspired by abundant access to indoor and outdoor facilities, teams and skill clinics offered in Maryland.
"It's also a very fast and exhilarating sport, and when people have fun they tell their friends and spread the sport," Menzel said.
By HAILEY DEARES
Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.