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The origins lacrosse trace back centuries among Indigenous communities in North America, where various tribes played versions of the game known as “baggataway” or “tewaarathon.” The game served both cultural and spiritual purposes, settling disputes and training warriors. European settlers observed and adapted the game in the 17th century, leading to the development of the modern version. The Montreal Lacrosse Club played a crucial role in formalizing rules as we know them today.

Lacrosse gained in popularity, leading to the emergence of organized competitions and its inclusion as an Olympic sport in 1904 and 1908. Today, lacrosse is a global sport with professional leagues such as MLL and NLL, with ongoing efforts to honor its Indigenous heritage.

Bellingham’s Lacrosse History

Locally, The Whatcom Warriors started in 2005 as a K–12 lacrosse program. The Whatcom Warriors high school team competed state-wide, succeeding against eastside and metro Seattle teams, and even made the state championship.

After Whatcom Lacrosse’s success in 2017, the Washington High School Boys Lacrosse Association (WHSBLA) ordered the Whatcom teams into individual high school teams. The Bellingham Warriors Youth Lacrosse Club still exists today as a K-8 program.

By 2019, Bellingham (pictured) and Squalicum High Schools had established their own separate lacrosse teams, moving away from what had originally been a co-op arrangement. Photo credit: Eli Martens

High School Lacrosse in Bellingham

The city of Bellingham currently has three teams competing in the Washington High School Boys Lacrosse Association (WHSBLA): Bellingham, Sehome, and Squalicum.

“Lacrosse is a club sport at the high school level in most school districts in Washington,” says Andrew Simmons with Sehome High School Lacrosse. “A volunteer board runs each club and funds itself through fundraising and player fees. The Washington State High School Boys Lacrosse Association governs it.”

Locally, in 2017, Sehome High School fielded its lacrosse team, while Bellingham High School (BHS) and Squalicum High School (SQHS) joined forces to compete as a combined team under the Bellingham banner.

By 2019, BHS and SQHS each established their separate lacrosse teams, moving away from the co-op arrangement to compete independently.

Aside from home games in Bellingham, the local high school teams play at Lynden-Bender Field, BHS, SQHS, Burlington, Mount Vernon, Stanwood, Sedro-Woolley, Jackson High School (in Mill Creek), and Anacortes. For postseason play, they travel as far as Enumclaw, Sumner, Puyallup, and Tukwila.

Bellingham Lacrosse takes the field. Photo credit: Eli Martens

A Lifelong Player Is Honored To Play for His School and Town

Eli Martens is a long-time Bellingham lacrosse player. He started playing the game 12 years ago, while in first grade, and continued through the Whatcom lacrosse programs, and when Bellingham had only one team.

He was excited when his school, Bellingham High, got its own team. For him, it’s been the experience of a lifetime.

“Playing at Bellingham High School has been a completely unforgettable experience,” says Martens. “I have had nothing but positive experiences with my teammates and coaches throughout my four years playing here.”

Martens hopes that lacrosse will someday develop into a varsity sport.

“Lacrosse is a great sport for anyone looking for a way to improve in all athletic aspects,” Martens says. “It’s perfect for improving hand-eye coordination, speed, agility, and to gain confidence on and off of any sports field.” Photo credit: Eli Martens

“It’s [lacrosse] still not recognized as a school sport and is only a club sport at the high schools,” he says, “but I hope it will continue to grow and possibly become recognized as an actual school-funded and -run [varsity] sport.

Martens hopes more people consider playing the game at the youth and high school levels. And even though lacrosse looks very different than most sports, he finds it to be incredibly similar to soccer, basketball, and hockey.

“Lacrosse is a great sport for anyone looking for a way to improve in all athletic aspects,” Martens says. “It’s perfect for improving hand-eye coordination, speed, agility, and to gain confidence on and off of any sports field.”

Additional Bellingham Lacrosse Information

For more info on high school lacrosse in Bellingham, please check out these resources:

Sehome High School Lacrosse

Bellingham High School Lacrosse

Squalicum High School Lacrosse

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