Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jim Brown Played Lacrosse

Jim Brown, considered by many to have been the greatest running back in NFL history, is also considered by most to have been the greatest lacrosse player of all time. A year ago that bit of trivia constituted the sum total of my knowledge about lacrosse. But I figured if all-time bad-ass Jim Brown played the sport, it must have something going for it. Then last Summer, my son came home and asked if he could sign up for a two-week lacrosse clinic with his buddies. Then he tried out and played for the 7th grade team at his school. He played club lacrosse this Spring, and now we're figuring out which league to put him in for the Summer. Yeah, he likes this new sport. And what 13 year old boy wouldn't? They get to wear cool gear and run around the field smashing into each other and beating on one another with titanium poles. Cross-country running appears to be a thing of the past in the OC Domer household.

A confluence of somewhat recent events has raised my level of consciousness about the Notre Dame lacrosse program. A little over a year ago Freshman Will Yeatman (from California) committed to play football at Notre Dame, and it was announced that he would play lacrosse as well. I didn't even know at that point that Notre Dame had a lacrosse team. Then my son started playing the game. The last glorious piece of the puzzle to fall into place was that my cable company started carrying ESPNU! So it was that I sat glued to the television last Saturday as the unseeded Fighting Irish took the #3 seed Johns Hopkins University Blue Jays into overtime before finally losing in the first round of the 2007 NCAA mens lacrosse championship tournament. While the overtime loss was disappointing, I was very impressed by how competitive Notre Dame has become in a sport that has been dominated by east coast schools for more than a century.

If you look at the sixteen teams that qualified for the 2007 NCAA tournament, Notre Dame is the westernmost school by a long shot. Notre Dame won the Great Western Lacrosse League (GWLL) to qualify for the NCAA tourney largely on the strength of a win over traditional midwestern power Ohio State. But the sport is moving west. Will Yeatman played high school lacrosse in the San Diego area. My son and his buddies are part of an explosion of youth lacrosse in Orange County. Our local high school (Beckman) just won its first league championship in varsity lacrosse, while another Tustin high school (Foothill) just won the CIF Southern Section Championship.

Lacrosse at the college level in California is dominated by the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL), which has 30 member schools grouped into six divisions. The final 2007 standings for "Division A - Los Angeles" features the University of Southern California Trojans mired in fifth place out of six teams, behind such powerhouses as Chapman University, UC Santa Barbara, Loyola Marymount, and Claremont College. In fact, my son and I attended the game between Chapman University (from Orange County) and USC earlier this year, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the whipping that Chapman put on the Trojans, beating them by a score of 13 to 2. It was 10 - 0 at halftime.

Which brings me in a roundabout way to the three points of this post:

  1. Congratulations to the Notre Dame mens lacrosse team on a great season!
  2. Lacrosse is a really great sport. If you have kids who are looking for a fun sport to play, you really ought to check it out.
  3. Notre Dame was one 16 teams to qualify for the NCAA championship tournament in lacrosse, while USC has a club team that can't hang with Claremont College. How does that taste, Tommy Trojan?

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