Lacrosse, North America’s Oldest Team Sport, Comes to Smithfield – Smithfield Times

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Lacrosse, North America’s Oldest Team Sport, Comes to Smithfield

Posted 4:14 p.m. on Tuesday, August 16, 2022

When Jesuit missionary Jean de Brebeuf in 1636 observed Native Americans in what is now the Canadian province of Ontario playing a game of stick and ball, he described sticks as similar to a bishop’s crozier – “la crosier”, in French. .

Fifty-three years later, in 1689, an anonymous clergyman wrote that the Powhatan tribe played a similar game “with a crooked stick and a leather ball (sic) with hair” in what is now south- east of Virginia.

“He wins whoever chases him from the other between two trees designated for purpose,” wrote the clergyman, who Colonial Williamsburg historians believe was John Clayton, minister at Jamestown from 1684 to 1686.

Now, coach Richard Linyear Jr. is on a mission to bring the sport of modern lacrosse, which he and the USA Lacrosse organization each call North America’s oldest team sport, to Smithfield.

In 2020, Linyear formed an all-female team for the benefit of her daughter, Symone.

“We started off by just playing in our neighborhood and bringing five girls to train with us,” Linyear said.

The team played their first season with the Coastal Crush league as the Smithfield Sweethearts last spring. The Sweethearts membership currently has seven girls, all aged 8 and under, from Smithfield and Suffolk. The league plays games primarily in Williamsburg and Virginia Beach.

The Sweethearts concluded their first season by qualifying for the league championship.

Linyear, a teacher at An Achievable Dream Middle and High School in Newport News, didn’t grow up playing lacrosse. Instead, he learned lacrosse “basically by watching the game.”

Linyear’s goal in teaching the sport to himself and others, he said, is “to expose our kids to something new, something fresh” in preparation for the day lacrosse will become as popular at the high school level as basketball, baseball or football.

“The natives were here first, they were playing this, it’s what they called ‘the creator’s game,'” Linyear said. “That’s actually how they settled disputes between neighboring tribes. …You should know the history of every game you play.

Linyear hopes to recruit more girls for the Smithfield Sweethearts and eventually create an all-male team he plans to name the Hamtown Heartbreakers.

While Linyear himself is new to Smithfield, his parents Jessie and Richard Sr. have lived in town for years. Their son graduated from Indian River High School in Chesapeake, where he played tennis, and Old Dominion University with a degree in physical education.

Linyear asks anyone interested in teaching her daughter lacrosse to email her at [email protected].

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