By Vic Ryckaert of the Indy Star
What it does have is lacrosse.
The Hoosier Lacrosse Academy held its first practice and scrimmage Saturday on the Eastside rink.They’ll continue using the smooth concrete surface for indoor “box lacrosse” through March.
“This form of lacrosse is not very popular here, but this is the way to train,” Hoosier Lacrosse Academy owner Ken Levinberg said.
The last year Ellenberger Park’s rink had ice was 2008, when Indy Parks spent $165,000 just to keep it running. Since then, the concrete floor also has hosted roller derby matches and games of futsal (a scaled-down version of indoor soccer).
Lacrosse is typically played on a soccer field. Box lacrosse is its smaller-scaled indoor version. The shorter field makes for a faster-paced game with more passing, Levinberg said.
Popular on the East Coast, lacrosse has been gaining popularity in Indiana in recent years. The sport is played in 61 Indiana high schools, according to maxpreps.com, including Center Grove, Carmel, Noblesville, Avon, North Central and Pike.
On the college level, lacrosse is played at Notre Dame, Hanover, DePauw and other Indiana schools.University of Indianapolis is launching men’s and women’s lacrosse teams in 2016.
“It’s fun and I like to hit people,” said Derek Rabbe, a seventh-grader at Noblesville Middle School who has been playing for about five years.
Hitting, or checking, is a perfectly legal way for a player to try to dislodge the solid rubber ball from an opponent’s “crosse” or stick.
The rules are similar to hockey, which also allows checking. Players — five plus a goalie on each side — suit up in gloves, pads and helmets. The sticks have a net on one end with a hole about the size of a softball.
Goalies guard nets on each side and are protected from head to toe. They carry a wider stick with a net that could probably catch a basketball if it fell just right.
Box lacrosse also borrows a bit from basketball — players have a 30-second shot clock.
Tyler’s been playing since age 2 and prefers lacrosse to football or basketball because, he said, it’s a great workout and the sport where he has the most success.
But, Tyler said, all that sweating in protective gear tends to leave a lingering unpleasant side-effect.
“When I would play my hands would still smell from my gloves for like a week after,” Tyler said. “It doesn’t necessarily smell bad, but it’s not good.”
That’s the smell of a hard-fought game with plenty of hitting; the smell of lacrosse.
Call Star reporter Vic Ryckaert at (317) 444-2701.
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