Lacrosse is one of the oldest competitive games of North America with its roots stretching back to as early as A.D. 1100 amongst native American tribes.
But it is now the newest sport in Northwest Georgia.
The Dalton Rebels made their debut at home on Saturday, taking on the Chattanooga Fellowship of Christian Athletes at John Davis Recreation Center in front of a stands full of fans on the turf fields of the complex. With its debut, lacrosse now has the foothold that organizer Mike Sanderson dreamed of more than a year ago when he brought the first exhibition game to Harmon Field.
“This really was my dream, and to see those kids out there playing here in this town is unbelievable,” Sanderson said. “I have brothers out here and older kids and younger kids, and this is just going to trickle out and a lot more will become interested in this as we go and move forward.”
More than 30 players were listed on the roster for the Rebels, ranging in age from 10 through 14. Players from throughout Whitfield County and even a trio from Calhoun are part of the team, which is associated with the Dalton Parks and Recreation Department.
The Rebels played their season opener in Chattanooga last weekend, but this was the first action at home.
Chattanooga FCA came away with a 12-3 victory. Dalton’s Chase Andrews scored a pair of goals, and David Hutchinson added the third for Dalton (0-3).
But Sanderson said the start of this program isn’t about winning right now. That will come, but the main thing to start with is to generate excitement and enthusiasm for a sport the native New Yorker grew up around.
“We have some players who if we played them the entire time, we would be a much more competitive team, but it is not at all about winning,” Sanderson said. “I wanted anybody and everybody that wanted to play to be part of this. I certainly didn’t want to turn people away. The team as a whole all played an entire quarter. My focus is not to start winning games, but to introduce the sport to Northwest Georgia.”
The players certainly seem to be liking their new sport.
“I started out playing usual things like golf and tennis,” said Zac Raughton, a fifth-grader at New Hope Elementary. “My mom and dad were looking for something new for me to do and found this on the internet and thought it was something I might like. It is tough, but it is really fun and I like it a lot.”