Sports swap: American lacrosse, Irish hurling cross borders

Photo courtesy of Harper Leigh

By Nathan Tran | Guest Contributor

Day in and day out, I have made it a habit to go to the fields near the sports complex on University College Dublin’s campus to practice lacrosse. I’ve only been here a few weeks, but everyone seems to know me as the guy walking around with a stick. In fact, the other Baylor students joke that I can’t go anywhere without my “emotional support stick.”

I have been playing lacrosse for a good portion of my life, but it wasn’t until recently that I learned it is the oldest organized sport in North America. The Native Americans invented it well before the United States was formed.

On my daily walks to the fields, I can feel eyes being drawn toward me. While training, I have been approached by many people varying in age; they ask about the stick and try to learn more about my native game. I was taken aback by their interest at first, but I began to love spreading the sport I love.

The locals compared lacrosse to the game of hurling — Ireland’s national sport, which is played only in Ireland. I saw many kids carrying around their hurling sticks like I do my lacrosse stick. Hurling sticks are similar to paddles, making it harder to control the ball, but both sports share the common goal of getting the ball in the goal.

The love Irish people have for their sport resonated with me. The passion they talk about it with is the same tone I would use for my favorite lacrosse team.

Getting to share lacrosse with some locals and having them teach me about hurling is an experience I will never forget. I have learned that even in another country, someone else may have an “emotional support stick.”