Lacrosse Enjoying an Explosion of Growth

Interest in lacrosse is growing rapidly across the country and the trend has clearly reached Rapid City, where the sight of students carrying lacrosse sticks is becoming normal.

By David Geditz

Lacrosse a sport not well known in the state of South Dakota or throughout the Midwest. But in states along the East Coast it’s a way of life. Yet despite such a huge discrepancy and a lack of exposure, the sport has a growing following in South Dakota.

Lacrosse originated hundreds of years ago with Native Americans in the eastern regions of the United States, so it’s no wonder the East Coast is big into lacrosse. Lacrosse has been growing exponentially across the nation for the last couple years. According to a survey conducted by US Lacrosse, boys’ and girls’ lacrosse are the fastest growing sports at the high school level. Boys’ lacrosse witnessed a 34 percent increase from 2008 to 2013, and girls similarly grew by 36 percent. The second-fastest growing sports are water polo (13 percent for boys) and ice hockey (14 percent for girls). And while South Dakota has only had lacrosse for seven years, the fact of the matter is that South Dakota is due for a huge spike in participation all the way from youth programs to club and college teams.

“Lacrosse is a great sport that anyone can play,” points out Richard Sudmeier, who is the vice president of the Black Hills Lacrosse Association (BHLA). “No matter your height, weight, or speed, it’s all about stick skills, which are easy to learn and sharpen quickly.”

“I wouldn’t doubt that we will be seeing Stevens and Central club teams playing all across the state within the next couple years.”

The Black Hills Lacrosse Association first started its existence with only 27 kids playing in their youth programs, but now they boast some of the largest participation numbers in the state, with 160 players throughout all age groups, topping off with full junior varsity and varsity high school teams. Black Hills lacrosse will only grow from there, and the association expects to have at least 400 players by 2020.

Rapid City is home to the “RC Shock” with girls and boys teams from U-7 to high school age groups. Teams are open to anyone who would like to join, with most participants discovering the game through friends who play or the recommendation of veteran players.

“I expect lacrosse to really grow in South Dakota,” said Sudmeier. “I wouldn’t doubt that we will be seeing Stevens and Central club teams playing all across the state within the next couple years.”

Feature photo: Gov’s v Tabor 2014-1388 by Bill Brine on Flickr