Every year thousands of new participants
join the ranks of those who are passionate
for the most ancient of indigenous games.
It is lacrosse, a special game – unique to the world –
as it really is the only existing “team” game on
the planet that is spiritual in nature. You feel that
magical difference immediately when you pick
up a stick for the first time.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Jim Calder, a former Hobart College (’79) lacrosse player and member of the Hobart’s Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Jim has written a new book titled Lacrosse – The Ancient Game in which he and his co-author, Ron Fletcher, shine a bright light on the rich history and culture of the game.
What follows below is an open and honest conversation with Jim about his book and the state of our sport in general. Special thanks to Jim for taking the time to answer my questions.
What is your background?
Jim Calder: I have played and coached lacrosse for almost 45 years….started at Baldwin J.H.S. on Long Island, went to Hobart College (part of 2 National Championship Teams), played for Team Canada ’78 and ’82 – won the World Championship in’78, Asst. Coach at UMass for 1 season and then went to Australia as second ever contingent of North American players to be brought down to spread the game….GM of World Field Lacrosse ’86 in Toronto and Co-Chair of first ever World Indoor Lacrosse Championships in 2003….was part of Management Team that launched the Toronto Rock NLL Franchise for the first 2 years….very active now in girls Field Lacrosse in Ontario as I have 2 daughters playing the game.
What inspired you to write this book?
Jim Calder: Through normal day to day interaction with participants in the game, I found that most people knew the game was special but had very little understanding of the history and culture of the game. As it grows bigger and bigger on the march towards Olympic involvement, I believe it is very important that they do understand it more completely. We need to keep respect in the game.
Why now? What made you decide to write and publish the book at this particular point in time?
Jim Calder: It has been on my mind for a number of years. I felt that I had better do it or I would regret it.
You wrote this book with a co-author, Ron Fletcher. What brought you two together to work on this project?
Jim Calder: Ron is one of my Friday afternoon pub-mates. He has written two books on the history of Toronto. After reading his books I felt he would be quite qualified to join me in writing this book.
How long did it take you and Mr. Fletcher to write this book? What sort of approach did you take to researching the game and uncovering valuable information?
Jim Calder: It took about a year in total for the writing part. We visited museums, spoke with several history professors and re-read the classic historical lacrosse books that exist – Beers, Vennum, Fisher, etc….
Can you tell us a bit about the illustrations included in the book? Why is this art an important part of the book?
Jim Calder: There are some great historical books on the game, but perhaps to many they seem academic or anthropological. I wanted to create a book that was accessible to the lacrosse community and would be opened again and again. The reader will see some of the iconic paintings from the game – large and in color. They will see great photos and illustrations from the early days of the game that they probably have not seen before, and they will see 10 or so brand new commissioned pieces that bring some of the historic moments and spiritual oral tradition to life.
What are your goals for this book? How would you like it to be perceived by the lacrosse players and fans who read it?
Jim Calder: The goal is to bring the history & culture to as many lacrosse families as possible. I hope it will bring all who read it to a greater appreciation of the world’s greatest game.
In your opinion, where is our sport headed? Will it stray away from it’s roots? Is that a concern of yours?
Jim Calder: It has the possibility of straying too far from its roots unless we educate the new participants that come to the game.
In your perfect world, describe the sport of lacrosse 10 years from now.
Jim Calder: An announcement is made that lacrosse is accepted into the Olympics.
So, where can people find and purchase this book? How long will it be available?
Jim Calder: The book is available now through the website, http://www.lacrossetheancientgame.com via PayPal. As retailers come on board – the locations will be added to the website so that people can pick it up directly. It will be available as long as there are copies – we will consider a reprint of the book as well.
Any final thoughts for our readers?
Jim Calder: Love the history, love the game. Be an ambassador of the game and cause positive growth.
Thanks to Jim for joining us for this interview. We’re thrilled to support your new book, and I’m personally looking forward to reading it. LAS Readers – get your copy now!