FRISCO -- Lacrosse has been growing exponentially in popularity for several years, but it's still flying under the radar in Texas. The Dallas Rattlers hope Sunday was the start of changing that as the relocated Major League Lacrosse franchise played its home-opener at the Ford Center at The Star, in a 15-14 overtime victory over Denver!
If you're not familiar with the sport, but you like sports in general, then you should love this one.
"It's the Xs and Os of basketball, the speed of hockey and soccer, [and] I think it's the physicality of football," says goalie John Galloway.
"Fastest game on two feet," adds head coach and general manager Bill Warder. "That's the truth. With a ball that goes 100 miles per hour. See someone get whacked in the arm with a six-foot titanium shaft. That's exciting!"
The Rattlers relocated from Rochester, N.Y. which is in a hotbed region for lacrosse. Here, they know they'll have to work harder to hook new fans--Sunday's paid crowd of 7,217 was a great start--and their approach to that challenge is to be as approachable as possible.
"Be all-access," says Galloway. "This isn't an NFL team. We don't stand on a pedestal. We're kind of one of the people. We try to be as accessible to the fans as we possible can, especially the young fans, the kids who are growing up, learning how to play the game. We want to be about to meet-and-greet with them, we want to be able to spend time with them, do clinics for them. That's our job. We're really just ambassadors of the sport."
And when lacrosse guys talk about their passion for the game, they ain't lying. Major League Lacrosse is actually a side hustle for the players, who work regular jobs across the country during the week then travel to their game sites on weekends, usually getting in just a single practice before facing off with their opponents.
"Mike Manley's a state trooper," says Galloway. "John Locascio works in foreign exchange on Wall Street. I'm a head lacrosse coach at Jacksonville University. We had a game yesterday and I jumped on a flight after our Senior Day and got in here around 11 o'clock last night.
"We don't do it for the money. We really do it for love of the game, and just to have the chance to spend some more time together."
But don't confuse these weekend warriors with your neighborhood beer league. These guys are top-notch athletes who play at the top level of their sport. And in sports-crazed DFW, that's what we demand!
"People being able to see the quality of play and what some of these guys can do, I think it's going to be really great for the sport down here," says Christian Carson-Banister, a goalie and Dallas native who graduated from Dallas Jesuit high school.
The Rattlers' next home game is Saturday, May 19.