Saturday, December 8, 2012

Lacrosse in Germany!

OK, friends, I know what you're thinking; "aren't you a swimmer/skier/runner/rower/cyclist/paddler"? and the answer is, well, yes, I love all those sports to varying degrees, but Marburg is not a great ski area, my road bike hasn't made it to our house yet, and besides, the perpetual mud/drizzle and the fact that I am effectively in lab for all daylight hours makes riding a bit depressing. But what better way to meet people when arriving in a new place than doing some sports with them, right? So I decided to take a class through "unisport" (like rec sports at a US university).  There was this great little booklet that appeared on the lunch table with all the class offerings, and I tried to decide which would be the most fun. Soccer sounded good, but the women's classes were too early in the day, so that was out.  I didn't want to do strength training, and couldn't picture myself doing Zumba or Spinning, and it seemed like team sports would be something new and exciting.  So, I settled on Lacrosse.  You know, that team sport derived from Native American games, where each player has a little basket on the end of a stick and you use that basket to try to throw a ball into a goal.

Now, if I were you, the next questions I'd ask would be: "wait, you went to Germany and are learning a sport invented in North America??"  And the answer is, well, why not?  and then, "Wait, aren't you just like one big slow twitch muscle from all those endurance sports?" and the answer is, well, yes. I think I'm about as good at sprinting as I was in high school, and back then, the splits in my 2-mile were the same speed as when I tried to do any shorter distances....(needless to say, my coach back then never had me do any short races).  And, I'm probably the oldest person in the class by almost a decade, and I'm the only one whose German is decidedly not that of a native speaker.  But all that is OK because I'm having So Much Fun.  Class is on an artificial turf field in the evenings on Thursday, and happens rain or shine (or snow).

SO, last weekend, we went to Münster for a tournament.  Awesome.  Keep in mind, we are all total beginners, and have been playing once a week for almost 2 months.  Two months really isn't much when the first few practices probably looked more like broomball than like Lacrosse (you have you use your stick to pick up the ball, and that's harder than it sounds). And most of the opposing teams actually knew what they were doing.  Oh, and instead of outside on the field, it was inside a gym with this bizarrely bouncy rubber-ish floor.  But I am serious about the awesome.
Marburg (the club, not our UniSport team) vs. Münster, I think. 
 It was a low-key sort of tournament; the teams kept borrowing each other's goalies, and the coaches and players doubled as refs and scorekeepers, but it all worked out.
Maggie (right, #33), one of our class instructors/coaches in action. She's also on the German National team. 

The first game was a bit miserable.  I drew the short straw and was stuck in goal, and while my teammates were trying to figure out how to pick up the ball off the bouncy floor and how to not have the ball snatched away from them immediately, I was being pummeled as time after time the opponents made it to the goal and took shot after shot.  I have to say, that's not a sports experience I am used to...half the time I couldn't even  
see the ball before it went past me into the goal.

The next games were more fun.  Partly because I got to run around more (One of my other teammates was in goal next and then found she actually liked it) and partly because we actually figured out how to deal with the ball some.  Although to be completely clear, our coach congratulated us after one of the early games for actually getting in 3 passes in a I'm not talking true expertise here.

Friday night, we camped out in a gym with all of the visiting teams for lacrosse and all of the other sports playing at the same time (it was a crazy multisport tournament, taking over all the gyms across Münster's campus and beyond).  It was a strange experience seeing hundreds of sleeping bags laid out in every configuration in a gym, but people were amazingly quiet and respectful of each other.  The partying went on outside and in the giant cafeteria building.  To that, I can only say that I am about as old and boring as I'd feared.  Oh well.  I am sure the "extra" sleep gave me a leg up the next day...
Some groups still hadn't shown up yet, but you get the was better than it looks

Saturday, we played the other teams that had lost most of their games the previous day, so we were less out-matched.  In fact, for the last game, we played a team from Osnabrück, and they were also beginners, so it actually looked like a game.  They scored a few points more than us, but due to some bad calls from the refs, they decided a few of those goals were invalid, so we went into sudden death overtime, and I actually scored a goal (?!?!?!) so we ended up winning and coming in 7th out of 8 teams!!  I can't remember when I've ever done that poorly (excluding some of the times I've raced with the men), but it's kind of refreshing to admit that you are going to be really bad at something and do it anyway.
Marburg UniSport team after the last game
It's actually fun playing a team sport (yes, crew and cycling kind of count, but in very different ways), and I think it will be better when we actually figure out how to catch balls.  Right now, our strategy leans towards "get the ball and run as fast as you can to the goal and shoot", and I think the game can be a lot more nuanced than that with passing and stuff.  Give us a few more months. We play Giessen tomorrow; we'll see how that goes!

1 comment:

  1. ok, well if you're going to do a goofy sport like lacrosse, you may as well try an orienteering meet or two. I don't speak german, and I'm too lazy to plug stuff into google translate, but are there any links to local clubs on the national german orienteering federation page?

    sounds like a really fun time, though! good luck learning how to run in any direction other than "straight ahead" =)