How to explain this sport? Think of a cross between ice hockey, soccer and butterfly collecting. America’s real national pastime, lacrosse was first played by the Oneida Iroquois more than 500 years ago. And, coincidentally, it also strongly resembles America’s second-oldest sport — chasing squirrels with a rake. It is still the only sanctioned sport in which the rules allow you to poke your opponent with a stick.
And now we have a (semi) professional league, Major League Lacrosse! Among the teams are the Boston Cannons (cool), Denver Outlaws (yawn) and Ohio Machine (??). Also the New York Lizards, who made news on Tuesday by drafting the first woman in MLL history.
Don’t get too excited, the MLL only started in 2001. But Devon Wills, a former goalie for the Dartmouth women’s team, is apparently the real deal. (That’s her in the photo holding the swimming pool skimmer. What?). And if she makes the Lizards’ roster, she’ll become the first woman to play in the MLL, and one of the few females to play in a men’s professional league in a contact sport.
From the official statement by the Lizards:
“Through our ownership of Richard Petty Motorsports in NASCAR, we’ve seen first-hand how great it is for a sport to have a woman athlete compete effectively at the highest level. Lacrosse is already one of the fastest growing sports in the US and this will only further accelerate that growth. Devon is a terrific young woman who is a great role model to female athletes everywhere.”
So things will get awkward if she gets cut.
I'm so excited and honored for this incredible opportunity to tryout with the @LizardsLacrosse! Looking forward to the test!
— Devon E Wills (@devon3wills) December 16, 2013
Photo: Getty Images.