MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
It once played a significant role in Native American culture, and today lacrosse is known as one of the fastest growing sports in the world. In many tribes and societies hundreds of years ago, the sport was played to resolve conflicts, heal the sick and train warriors for battle.
The equipment and game regulations may have changed from crude curved sticks and balls made from animal hide, but the purpose has changed little to none: to bring people together in sport and camaraderie.
Service members aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune have made efforts to unite a new lacrosse team, after its foundation began to fall apart due to wartime needs. The team has opened its arms to personnel aboard the base, who are at least 18 years of age and are willing to put in a little hard work and effort.
The team has been on and off since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, with deployments being one of the major hindrances of getting the team back to its maximum potential.
“Deployments and work ups are hurting us,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Radan Dolph, with Headquarters Company, 6th Marine Regiment. “We’re trying to find a league to play with and get a traveling team to play in tournaments around the area.”
A lacrosse stick or “crosse” is a long-handled racket used to play the sport. Players use the stick to handle the ball and strike at opposing players. The head of a lacrosse stick is roughly triangular in shape and is strung with loose netting that allows the ball to be caught, carried and thrown.
According to the 2010 rule book for the National Lacrosse League, the sport is played with a maximum of 19 players on each team. In a ‘box’ or ‘field’ lacrosse game, four quarters equals a game. The length of a box or field lacrosse game is typically 60 minutes, which 4 quarters each lasting 15 minutes.
Dolph added that the minimum required number of players on a team roster is 25. The team has already met the requirement but only about half of the members on the roster can attend practice due to deployments and annual training.
“We’re trying to get the team together,” said Sgt. Joseph Chapa, with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. “Right now, we are just practicing with anybody who wants to come out. Some of us haven’t picked up the stick in 12 years, others in two years; but we’re just coming out here to practice and work on what we need to work on. When we actually get to the games, then we can start playing for fun.”
Chapa added that whether the players were high school and college lacrosse athletes or they were new to the sport, the idea was just to have fun.
One of the newcomers to the team, Lance Cpl. Jeremy Dingman, a data systems technician with 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, said he heard about the practice dates from a friend, who showed him YouTube videos of lacrosse games. Dingman had an interest in the sport from then on and decided to show up to practice as well.
“Just the action of the game alone made me interested in the sport,” said Dingman. “In other sports, players in each position have their (exciting and boring) moments. Here, I’m constantly running, I’ve gotten tackled lots of times and it’s just action packed the whole way through.”
Dingman said he wrestled for three years and in high school had no familiarity with soccer, football, or hockey: the three sports lacrosse is closest to, but in the two months he had been with the team, he has seen some progress in his skills.
“Compared to when I first started, I can catch the ball better,” said Dingman. “I can actually run with the ball and pass it on the fly without dropping it. It’s a work in progress. I plan to stick with it and hopefully get better.”
The Camp Lejeune lacrosse team practices on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and they meet up once a month to just have a fun day, spending time playing lacrosse together.
The team is also working on rallying service members aboard Marine Corps Air Stations New River and Cherry Point to build lacrosse teams in the near future as well.
For more information about the lacrosse team, visit the website lejeunelax.com or contact Tim O'Brien at email@example.com.