Lacrosse — it’s not just for native Americans, and I have a story about Syracuse warmly welcoming a German player . . . (the enemy?) . . . in 1949!

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported today that two northern California high school lacrosse clubs will meet two southern California high school lacrosse clubs this weekend for the California championship.

Most unusually, the two northern competitors represent two of the three high schools in Petaluma. Members of both clubs stand a fairly good chance of having been taught in first grade or kindergarten by my wife, Judy. I don’t have easy access to the player lists, but if Judy taught ’em she’d remember ’em. And Casa Grande High School, on Petaluma’s east side, is where our foster kid, Erik, was graduated.

Coincidences–I love ’em. Here’s an even better one, a German-American peace story just after World War II.

–Last Monday I kept the television tuned to the U.S. national collegiate lacrosse championship. Syracuse University battled Cornell University to a hail-mary victory for Syracuse, their eleventh national title, a record for that sport.

The broadcasters had mentioned Syracuse’s many years of building a lacrosse program, and I’m prepared to testify that I personally remembered it had gone back at least to 1949. That’s the year I’d entered Syracuse as a freshman. In my dorm was a German student recruited by Syracuse to upgrade the program!

These days, I may need to remind readers that Germans had been demonized in America, just as had the Japanese. It’s how people are manipulated by their governments in time of war: an enemy is, well, an enemy — never forget it! And some Americans did take a long time welcoming Germans and Japanese.

However, as Syracuse University was committing itself to becoming a lacrosse power, a German recruit in my dorm, and on the campus, was never remotely thought of as “enemy,” in my experience. Syracuse always was a welcoming place. I just find it interesting that I could confirm what media were saying about how long had been a university’s drive that has now landed it an eleventh national championship, a record.

–The color-commentator also noted the long rivalry between Syracuse and Cornell, which had begun in 1920. I had to take his word for that; but I got a kick out of having known how important the program had been shortly after World War II, with a young representative of that ghastly conflict happily joining the enemy.

I’m fascinated, by the way, by the extreme athleticism of lacrosse players. The game is not only fast and dangerous; it is remarkable how a ball whizzing through the air can be snagged and immediately redirected. Every joint in a player’s body is called upon, plus the eyes, which must continually scan the field at the same time as following a little ball going maybe 100 miles an hour.

I doubt it’s much easier for the TV camera operators to cover lacrosse. And as I recall, I didn’t get much work done while the game was supposed to be background noise. I’m glad for the gift; I did my work later.