Women’s lacrosse has been seeing a steady increase in popularity for several years and it’s originating in the Heartland of America. No longer a bastion of Ivy League schools, the sport is growing by leaps and bounds in the collegiate arena and youth participation has also increased.
The statistics surrounding girls’ and women’s lacrosse shows an interesting trend. In 2001, the number of NCAA women’s teams was 238. By 2018, the number had grown to 483, representing a 230 percent increase. There was a 65 percent increase in new lacrosse programs for women. Competition at all age levels and demographics is enjoying a surge. Participation by girls increased by a little over 43 percent.
Lacrosse began as a Native American game. French Jesuit missionaries were the first to witness it in 1636, wrote about it, and the sport was adopted by the Europeans. The missionary Jean de Brébeuf coined the name lacrosse for the game. It wasn’t until 1890 at Scotland’s St. Leonard’s School that the sport was first played by women.
The U.S. women’s lacrosse team has won eight out of 10 tournaments played since 1982. The Australian women’s team won twice. At the end of 2020, there were 25 teams from around the globe that competed in the last World Lacrosse Women’s World Championship.
One reason cited for the increase in popularity is that girls that play lacrosse have a lesser instance of osteoporosis later in life. Some research indicates girls that play lacrosse are less likely to have an unintended pregnancy – a statistic that parents find especially appealing.
Girl lacrosse players tend to be more confident, have a better self-image, a more positive body image, and do better in school. Parents and coaches cite the value of teamwork, learning to set goals, and other skills that can be employed in the workplace and throughout multiple life situations for the increase in popularity.