The second annual “Old Stick Game” pitting the Dallas and Lake-Lehman girls lacrosse teams against each other will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7 at the Edward Edwards Stadium on the campus of the Lake-Lehman Junior/Senior High School.
The winner will get custody of the “old stick” until the second meeting of the teams in 2014 . Last season, the Dallas girls defeated Lehman, 17-6, to claim the honor.
The game of lacrosse originated with Native Americans. It was popular among the Eastern tribes and was most likely the first team sport ever played in Northeast Pennsylvania.
While the rules for the modern men’s game were developed by a Canadian dentist in the 1860s, the women’s game was born in 1884 at the St. Leonard’s School for girls in Scotland after the headmistress, Miss Louisa Lumsden, witnessed a game between the Canghuwaya Indians and the Montreal Lacrosse club and adapted the game for her pupils.
Lumsden wrote: “It is a wonderful game, beautiful and graceful. I was so charmed with it that I introduced it at St Leonard’s.”
Queen Victoria, who in 1876 also witnessed the touring Canghuwaya and Montreal clubs during a private exhibition at Windsor castle, was said to have enjoyed the game and is quoted as saying, “It is very pretty to watch.”
After being introduced at St. Leonard’s, girls lacrosse became extremely popular and spread throughout Great Britain. During the pre-world war era, demand for the hickory crosses used for girls lacrosse often outstripped supply.
In 1912, cricket bat and hockey stick manufacturer TS Hattersley & Son of Manchester, England responded to the growing market and began producing girls lacrosse sticks. Within a few years, demand became so high for Hattersley`s popular “Viktoria” crosse that the company scaled down production of cricket bats to focus primarily on girls lacrosse sticks.
While girls lacrosse had become wildly popular in Britain, it was not until St. Leonard’s alumnus Rosabelle Sinclair emigrated to the United States in the 1920s that North American girls were given the opportunity to play the game that had been, up to that point, exclusive to males. Having become a physical education teacher at the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, Maryland, Sinclair introduced lacrosse to the all-girls school in 1926.
As the rules for the girls game had been developed and refined independently for four decades in Great Britain, they differed greatly from the North America rules that boys had been using. The women’s game emphasized stick skills and proficiency.
Sinclair resisted blending the rules she had learned as a student in Scotland with the boys rules being used in America as she believed the girls game should be played with feminine refinement, stating,“Lacrosse, as girls play it, is an orderly pastime that has little in common with the men’s tribal warfare version except the long-handled racket or crosse that gives the sport its name. It’s true that the object in both the men’s and women’s lacrosse is to send a ball through a goal by means of the racket, but whereas men resort to brute strength, the women depend solely on skill.”
Today, Sinclair, is remembered as the “Grand Dame of Lacrosse” and was the first woman to be inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame
In a tribute to the origins of girls lacrosse, the “old stick” that the Lake-Lehman and Dallas girls will play for is an authentic Hattersley’s “Viktoria” hickory crosse crafted in Manchester, England nearly 100 years ago. The name “J.L. Cray” is carved in the handle - presumably by the girl who first owned the crosse and used it to play with her classmates on the lawn of her school long ago.