Lacrosse: A sport fit for a 'goddess'

MIKE ULMER, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

Christine Kurt rolled up her left pantleg to show her badge of honour. "This is from a lacrosse player," she said. "He told me, Christine, if you're going to be in lacrosse, you need a tattoo and you need a nickname."

Everyone has a nickname in lacrosse. Jim Veltman is Scoop. Colin Doyle is Popeye.

Christine's tattoo is of two crossed lacrosse sticks just above her ankle. The nickname: The Goddess of Lacrosse.

Chicks dig lacrosse. Who knew?

All you needed to do was poke around the Air Canada Centre last night to find them. Lacrosse goddesses everywhere.

The original, Kurt, sits six rows from the northwest corner. She has lacrosse earrings. She is wearing a Rock jersey. Her watch says Crazy About Lacrosse. She has a custom made Rock Goddess Pendant with Josh Sanderson's No. 19 and Veltman's 32 hanging against her heart.

She was at the Rock's first home game, Jan. 22, 1999, thanks for asking. Her husband bought her a ticket.

"I figured I'd come to one game," she said. "If I didn't like it, someone else would come."

She has missed one home game, and that's because some scuzzball stole her purse in a restaurant before the game, may he rot in hell.

Now she buys season tickets for $375 a seat and sprinkles them among her friends.

Kurt holds a real job, she's a labour and delivery nurse at Scarborough Centennary. This kind of obsessiveness would be easily understood if she felt so strongly about Elvis or Star Trek. But this lacrosse thing is a little weird. The only way to garner a moment of silence is to ask her why is so devoted.

Turns out she's just reloading.

"I guess I know what it takes for them to play. They don't make much money (the best paid veteran will make just a little under $20,000 US) and they work other jobs. They beat the crap out of each other on the floor and then, after the game, they're all at Joe Badali's, having a beer together. They respect each others' talents, and they respect the fans, and that's pretty amazing today in professional sports."

Joyce Carlington's seat is a rebound away from Kurt's. She is here with her husband Gord who is in the valve business and he is handy enough since it is he who drives to Buffalo and Rochester for Rock away games.

"Well," she says as a visiting member of the Minnesota Swarm is slammed into the glass a few feet away, "it's fast and certainly not boring. "I used to be a real hockey fan but now I prefer this. The players are just a bit more dedicated and they're more affable than hockey players."

Somewhere in a beer line far, far away, Kathryn Long and Tricia Reid's boyfriends were fetching more suds. They were not missed. Instead, in the upper reaches of the ACC, the two twentysomethings sat among the empty seats, pining not at all for company, male or otherwise.

"We don't care if they come back or not," laughed Long. "They're out of here."

All the male companionship they needed was on the floor.

"I just love the game," Long said. "I don't want to see fights. These guys are hardcore. They knock the hell out of each other, and then they jump up and get back into play. A basketball player, they get bumped and they're down for five minutes.

"You come here, everyone drinks a little bit too much. The little kids take off their shirts and twirl them around their heads. It's just a great atmosphere."

Late in the game, the Goddess of Lacrosse has been driven from her seat by the tension of the game.

The two teams are trading goals and the Rock can't shake Minnesota.

"I can't watch it when it gets like this," says The Goddess of Lacrosse of the sport that stole her heart. "This game is going to be the death of me."


Videos

Photos