Lacrosse has long been touted for the camaraderie it builds among players and the positive culture enveloping that brotherhood.
The sport’s very roots are in Native American games that sometimes were meant to settle disputes or had spiritual implications. The Iroquois called it “the medicine game.”
This spring, they’ve been experiencing the joys of competition and fellowship first-hand at what may have seemed an unlikely place.
Officials at the Ferris School for Boys, the secure-care facility for court-committed males ages 13 to 18 near Prices Corner, had observed an increase in disciplinary problems during the spring. Their solution was to provide a new sports team, as Ferris has football in the fall and basketball in the winter with its teams playing area high schools.
After briefly considering baseball, Ferris officials felt lacrosse made the most sense as a sport players could learn from scratch. In keeping with the sport’s penchant for goodwill, Ferris is fielding a lacrosse team with major assists from U.S. Lacrosse and members of the Wilmington Friends School team.
For those Ferris players, none of whom had picked up a lacrosse stick before January, it’s been a satisfying experience.
“It shows everybody their ability and that there’s no limit to their possibilities if they put their mind to it,” said one Ferris player after Saturday’s 6-2 loss to the MOT Charter junior varsity.
Among those enjoying the sight was Beth Mahr, U.S. Lacrosse’s manager for diversity, inclusion and sport science. Ferris, she said, is the only facility of its kind in the country with a lacrosse team.
“It’s awesome,” she said. “I’m so excited about what’s going on here.”
Because the Ferris players are incarcerated minors, the state Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families does not permit their names to be published.
“I love being part of this team,” another player said. “This is the first time I ever played sports. I never played on a team before but I picked it up really quick. It was because of the good coaches. It shows you how to work with other people, to think first, and not go off on your aggression and your anger.”