Sports column: Nighthawks lacrosse returns for the seasonA handful of high school girls from Duluth Central, Denfeld and East formed the city's first lacrosse team in 2004.
A handful of high school girls from Duluth Central, Denfeld and East formed the city's first lacrosse team in 2004.
Now, nearly ten seasons later, there are enough girls from the area to create both a junior varsity and varsity level team, team manager Sara Curwin said.
Any girl in grades six through 12 are encouraged to give Nighthawks lacrosse a try and this year. There are players representing not only Duluth, but also Superior, Hermantown, Proctor and Esko. The Nighthawks compete in the 11-team Minnesota Northern School Girls Lacrosse League (NSLA) and are 36 players strong this season.
As a club, the Nighthawks are not under the auspices of the Minnesota State High School League’s sanctioned sports. The Nighthawks rely on the support of parents and a loosely organized board, Curwin said. Girls interested in playing are required to pay a $300 registration fee, but scholarships are offered, Curwin said. Also, all players need to be registered as a US Lacrosse player because the team carries insurance for each player.
One major difference with a club sport such as lacrosse, versus varsity- level high school sports, is the cost of travel. For club teams, all athletes or their families must pay for their own travel and accommodations. The Nighthawks work constantly on fundraising efforts such as grocery-bagging at Super One and selling wreaths during the holiday season.
“We travel quite a bit throughout the short season,” Curwin said. “Teams will host a “play weekend” where one team hosts the field and many teams travel there and play each other.”
League rules require each team plays each other at least one time and each season concludes with a potential state tournament berth.
“The Nighthawks’ board is responsible to hold clinics, hold registration and find our own practice and game field space,”
Curwin said. “The last few years we have built a strong relationship with Tom Pearson, athletic director at Denfeld, and we are able to practice and host weekend matches at PSS. We have come a long way from hosting games and practicing at Park Point,” Curwin said. “We even had to paint our own lines.”
Although lacrosse is extremely popular in certain parts of the country, it is not as well-known in the Northland, but the excitement of the game is sure to draw in local fans if they just check it out.
“When folks come to a Nighthawks game they can expect to see excitement up and down the field,” Curwin said. “The Nighthawks play in sleet, rain, wind and snow.”
The Nighthawks will host home games Saturday, April 20, at Public Schools Stadium, no matter what the weather. Curwin encourages those interested in seeing what the game is about to dress warm and stop by for some free entertainment.
“Girls’ lacrosse is known as a game of finesse; it’s often not considered as violent as the boys’,” she said. “Players make multiple passes, run, dodge and often carry the ball to the net ending with a direct thrash into the net [for a goal.]”
Duluthian Sarah Packingham writes about sports for the Budgeteer. Contact her at email@example.com.