LACROSSE SPREADS TO NORWAY
By Bo Bennekov, Mike Wood and Kristian Gotsch
A lot of things can be said about the movie "American Pie". One thing about the movie, however, is indisputable: it has helped spread awareness of lacrosse in Europe unlike anything else. And this is where the story of Norwegian lacrosse begins.
Bo and Kristian at the airport
It was a rainy evening in Norway, when the plane from Denmark touched down at Bergen Airport. Norway had just been mentioned in an Al Qaeda speech as a possible target, so the police in Bergen Airport looked suspiciously at three guys arriving from Denmark with 6 Warrior bags, size XXL. Fortunately, the guys made it smoothly through customs and in the arrival hall they were picked up by a group of Norwegian business school students, the proud founders of Norwegian lacrosse.
A few weeks earlier, the students had watched "American Pie" and flirted with the idea of starting a lacrosse team. The flirt quickly turned into a burning obsession, and the students started researching the idea. The research took them via various websites and contacts to the President of European Lacrosse Federation (ELF), Peter Mundy.
Shortly thereafter Mr. Mundy contacted a few lacrosse players in Europe to hear if they were interested in running a camp to teach the Norwegians how to play lacrosse. We were and before long two Danes, one American and six large Warrior bags of equipment were being met at the Bergen Airport on a rainy Friday night by two eager Norwegians.
Peter Mundy talking about the history of lacrosse
While Mr. Mundy recruited us to coach, the Norwegians were busy arousing interest among their fellow students. To recruit players a short four-minute highlight film featuring lacrosse was made. The movie was played in front of different classes pitching their idea for a team and anyone interested was invited to an introduction meeting. The founders were hoping to recruit 15-20 players and were shocked to see more than 70 people show up for the meeting! The guys not only recruited interested players but also found great enthusiasm among the female students. In "American Pie" the high school lacrosse team had cheerleaders, so naturally the Norwegian students knew that they could not start a team without the support of a cheering squad. We looked at each other in astonishment. It was unheard of. Cheerleaders for a team that didn't even exist yet!
The 7 founders had already bought their own equipment, and together with the gear brought from Denmark, and 10 sticks generously donated by ELF, the camp was underway.
The camp was an enormous success. The coaches taught the players the fundamentals and rules of the game, and the players picked up the game rather quickly. On Saturday evening Håkon Høst threw a party at his house with beer, hot dogs, and lacrosse DVDs. Peter Mundy, who has been around lacrosse since the 1940's, brought a fine bottle of English Whisky to celebrate the occasion. The players intensely watched the films, and it was great to see how intrigued and enthusiastic everyone was about the fine game of lacrosse.
After the films Håkon presented the coaches with Norwegian School of Economics lacrosse shirts, and Mr. Mundy gave a short speech. A few founding members then presented the team with shirts and called each player up individually, shook their hands, and welcomed them to the team. As each new player received his T-shirt you could see the pride and enthusiasm in everyone's faces.
After the second day clinic it became apparent that lacrosse has a permanent home in the college town of Bergen, and that the sport it will undoubtedly spread throughout Norway. Norway is the 17th country in Europe to have lacrosse. It is gaining enormous popularity throughout Europe. The Danish coaches joked with the players after the camp that they better not become too good and beat Danish lacrosse. Everyone laughed a lot about that, but from the Danes it was a nervous laughter. The Norwegians are coming strong, and lacrosse in Norway is here to stay.
The goal for Norwegian lacrosse now is to organise, start training, and last but not least, to participate in the European Newcomers tournament in August 2005 in Latvia.
And so the weekend was over, and the former "fresh" Norwegian business school students had been turned into tired lacrosse players as they waived goodbye to us. It probably still rains in Bergen, but for Norwegian lacrosse it's all blue skies.
Watching lacrosse videos at Haakon's apartment Saturday night
If you are interested in supporting or contacting the newly-founded team please contact either Håkon Høst (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mats Reiersen (email@example.com).
Norwegian Lacrosse Founding Members:
Per Martin Storvik
Lars Christian Johannesen
Mike with a great view of Bergen. On the Cover: Bo and Kristian
Kristian Gotsch is the founder of Danish Lacrosse, Bo Bennekov is a defender for the Danish National Team and Mike Wood, an American, was member of the 2004 USLIA national championship team University of California, Santa Barbara.
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