Metro area can catapult lacrosse

It most likely wasn’t a widely-viewed sportscast Memorial Day in Alabama. If you knew the NCAA Division I lacrosse championship was on ESPN, it’s probably because you were flipping channels after lunch and found it. And if you watched, you were intrigued.

The game was an Upstate New York battle between Cornell and Syracuse. As Cornell looked sure to win its first title in more than 20 years, Syracuse rallied from three goals down to tie the game and win it in sudden death overtime.

As you look at the map and see where the sport is growing, it is easy to assume that it is a sport for the higher socio-economic classes. Add in that the sport was first most popular at prep schools in the Northeast, and one may ask, what business does it have in Alabama?

The real question should be, why would Alabama miss the trend?

For the past decade or so, lacrosse has found a small base in Birmingham with youth and club teams in Hoover, Mountain Brook, Homewood and Vestavia. Most recently, Briarwood joined Birmingham Lacrosse with a junior varsity team this past season and Berry Middle School won the seventh and eighth grade championship.

Spain Park High School added a varsity team three seasons ago that went 2-8 in its inaugural year. This year, the Jags recorded their first winning season at 7-6.

The sport is on the rise across the nation. According to a recent Wall Street Journal story, the number of high school players has nearly doubled over the past decade from 74,225 in 2000-01 to 143,946 in 2007-08.

The sport began to branch off to the South, but the West is now gaining ground as the fastest growing area.

Just like Shelby County has done with soccer and is hoping to do with hockey, it can be a launching point for lacrosse fever in Alabama.

Youth interested in the sport can attend camp this summer at Birmingham-Southern College or play in the upcoming Alabama Games. Go to byll.org for more information.