Okay, maybe you bought the magazine on the strength of our cover story on Baltimore’s top restaurants, which always generates a lot of buzz from readers and restaurateurs, alike. Or maybe you were just hungry when you spotted our restaurant photo by the supermarket checkout counter. But there’s lots more to like inside the book, from our visit with renowned author Alice McDermott to an engaging Home section and our attempt to answer the question, “Has Baltimore gotten over the Colts?” One of my personal favorites, though, is our piece on lacrosse.
It’s been a while since we focused on the lax community, but we do it this month in spades with “Just the Lax,” a look at the rising stars of 2014 in high-school-level competition. And we have some fun learning their jargon, uncovering their hangouts, and chronicling the biggest team rivalries.
What’s remarkable about this sport is how rapidly it’s growing—it is the fastest-growing sport in the nation, period. While it was once more or less unique to New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, it’s spreading like wildfire nationally.
In 2012, more than 720,000 people played team lacrosse, an increase of nearly 40,000 from the year before, according to Baltimore-based US Lacrosse, the sport’s organizing body. The number of high-school players jumped 2.5 percent, college participation grew 3.1 percent, and post-collegiate participation went up 8.2 percent.
New York (especially tony Long Island), New England, and Maryland have traditionally sent the most players to Division 1 (NCAA). (Inside Lacrosse magazine—also founded here—estimates that 6.3 percent of Division 1 players are now from Greater Baltimore, with an equal percentage from the Washington, D.C.-metro area.) But the proof of its migration westward is the 7 percent of players now coming from places like California, Colorado, and Ohio, as well as an uptick in Division 1 freshmen from Florida and Texas.
Coaches here credit much of the growth to the overdue exposure college and pro-lacrosse is getting on TV and the Internet. And that’s good news for the fans here in Maryland: It means that when the likes of Hereford High School’s Jason Ashwood or McDonogh School’s Brinton Valis make it to the big time, America, finally, will be watching.