Oldest game in America

Published 9:39 am Tuesday, March 16, 2010

When Trent Chrane talks about lacrosse, the word “fast” keeps coming up in the conversation.

“Lacrosse is really fast, a mixture between soccer and basketball. It never stops,” said the 6-foot-3-inch, 200 pound midfielder for Spain Park’s lacrosse team.

Though most people in the South don’t know much about the sport, its popularity is growing in Shelby County and around the state. In lacrosse, 10 players fight for possession of a ball using long sticks with a mesh pocket on the end. Players score by getting it into the opponent’s 6 foot by 6 foot goal.

“It’s a personal game. You can do a lot of things, more than just a pass or run like in other sports. It’s fast and exciting, it’s fun to watch,” said Chrane.

Lacrosse positions include defense, attackmen and midfielders, plus a goalie.

“Defense players are usually huge and they have longer sticks. The attackmen are smaller and quick, and the midfielders vary in size. They do everything and have to be fast,” said Chrane.

Lacrosse is recognized as the oldest sport in America, dating as far back as the 1400s as a game played by Native Americans. When the French came to America in the 1600s and witnessed the sport, they gave it the name lacrosse after the cross-like sticks used in the game.

“Warriors played it to get tougher and to train for war,” said Chrane. “They used wooden sticks and no pads.”

Modern players wear gloves, elbow and arm pads, shoulder pads and helmets to protect themselves for all the contact allowed in lacrosse, which Chrane said can get pretty violent.

Chrane has played lacrosse for four years, ever since Coach Dan Jordan recruited him for Spain Park’s first team as a freshman.

“He’s a mastermind at lacrosse,” said Chrane. “He’s always pushed me and practiced with me to make me a better player.”

Chrane’s experience with other sports earlier in life like football, baseball and basketball prepared him for the constant motion, strength and skills necessary for lacrosse.

“It’s a mixture of a lot of sports. As long as you’re athletic, you’ll probably like it,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun and you catch on quick.”

Chrane’s skills with the sport have not gone unnoticed by his team, coaches or recruiters. He was named team captain, voted best midfielder and most valuable player by his teammates last season and has been a part of several all-star teams including BAMALAX during the summer, a club team, for the state’s top players.

He said that he enjoyed playing on the same team with many of his rivals.

“Usually you want to take their heads off,” he laughed. But while playing for BAMALAX, he worked together with them to compete against club teams from other states.

Chrane attended seven different lacrosse camps last summer and started getting noticed by coaches and recruiters. “I made the all-star team at four or five of the camps, and coaches kept seeing my name,” he said.

“I think they liked that I was big and fast.” he added.

He committed to play for the Naval Academy in November and signed with them Feb. 20. “They have a stellar lacrosse program, one of the top 12 or 13 in the nation. It’s very prestigious,” he said.

During the snow showers in Alabama the weekend of Feb. 13, Chrane managed to get a flight out of Birmingham to watch Navy play Virginia Military Institute in Maryland. “They had three feet of snow there,” he said. “I sat with other players who have committed to play next year and we watched the game. The Navy ended up winning 16-5, so it wasn’t a very exciting game to watch, but still fun,” he laughed.

After finishing up his senior year at Spain Park, Chrane is planning to move to the Navy Prep School in Rhode Island. “There will be 20 players there for a year, so we’ll all get lots of playing time,” said Chrane. “After the year at the prep school, half of the players will go on to play for the Navy and the other half will play somewhere else.” In the Northeast, where lacrosse reigns supreme, Chrane will face more than just the changes in climate and culture. Chrane said that teams with such long-standing lacrosse programs like the Naval Academy take the sport very seriously.

“For most schools in the north, football season is just training for lacrosse season,” he said.

Chrane said his coach and his teammates helped him get to this point of preparing to play for Navy. “You all need to work together. Lacrosse is still very much a team sport,” he said.