Special to Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Prospect Park Parade Ground, once "the epicenter of sports in America," will see the restoration of lacrosse competition this fall after a gap of nearly 100 years.
Joe Nocella, founder of the Brooklyn Battery Lacrosse Club, describes the fields as hallowed grounds in the history of Brooklyn sports.
“There have been at least 43 World Series rings awarded to alumni of the Parade Ground — for many decades," he said.
The Bclub’s mission is to bring the sport to children who have never experienced it, focusing on “fundamentals, team, respect and Brooklyn."
“City kids, who do great in school and excel at lacrosse … you can’t name me a college that wouldn't be falling over themselves trying to recruit this amazingly diverse demographic,” Nocella continued.
Lacrosse has enjoyed an uneven history in North America. Initially played ago by native Americans as training for war, Victorian-era Americans took to the sport to connect with the idea of the “noble savage.”
This took root in the affluent sporting clubs of the upper class, and throughout most of the 20th century lacrosse retained the stigma of a game mainly played at boarding and prep schools.
“There are many barriers to entry for a new lacrosse player in the city,” Nocella said. “Equipment costs, field space, logistics all contribute to very few active urban teams compared to their suburban counterparts.”
The Brooklyn Battery Lacrosse Club has some powerful allies in this mission to bring lacrosse to this final frontier. Aided by US Lacrosse and such equipment manufacturers as Warrior, the club is working to remove as many barriers to entry to the sport as possible.
The following description of the Parade Ground inspired Nocella's group to action:
The site "was designed by Olmsted and Vaux along with adjacent Prospect Park and saw its first parade in 1867. The 11th Brigade's Howitzer Battery was the lucky unit to be the first to march and fire a shot.
"Although intended from the start as a military facility, sports moved in early, and by 1871 the Parade Ground was being described by Henry Chadwick as the 'finest free ball ground in the United States'."
Boys and girls ages 5-15, including beginners, are welcome; sticks will be provided. For more information, visit brooklynlacrosse.org.