By Jake Loel
A guide to understanding lacrosse terminology and culture
With the University of Dallas men’s lacrosse season fully underway, I decided to embark on a quest to learn the basics of the lacrosse language, more commonly known as “Lax Bro.” I caught up with junior midfielder and attacker Matthew Cyr and sophomore midfielder Tobias Zanini following their 10-8 victory over St. Gregory’s University on Feb. 7 in order to learn the lingo, but Cyr was embarrassed by the thought of speaking “Lax” in a public place.
“Oh come on Cyr, it’s not a big deal!” Zanini rebuked Cyr good-naturedly. A few choice words from Zanini and me were enough to convince Cyr, and soon we were on our way to a more or less normal sports interview.
We went over the positions. A midfield player, I learned, is called a “middie,” while attack players are sometimes called “a-taks.” A “cele” is a celebration, and a “spoon” is a lacrosse stick. A “morning spoon” is used to “toss around with, like, in the a.m.’s”, according to Zanini.
I did not bother to ask what “a.m.’s” meant, assuming it had something to do with morning practices. Cyr and Zanini then told me about some of the nicknames on the team. There is Matthew “Matt” Cyr, Tobias “Bead” Zanini, Alex “Zio” Ziolkowski and KC “Lil Dickie” Pierce, who, I was assured, is “the heart of the defense.” Disappointed, I decided to wrap the interview up at that point, trying to imagine how to make their disorganized thoughts into a workable article. I decided to ask a final question: “All right, guys, any last-minute terms you want to add?”
To my delight, in response to my last-ditch question, Cyr and Zanini launched off into a long discussion about lacrosse culture, only occasionally glancing up at me to describe a word. Just as I had given up on finding the true meaning of “Lax Bro”, I was given a glimpse into what lacrosse language, and more deeply, what lacrosse culture is all about.
Apparently, “Lax Bro” is more than a language; it is a part of playing “The Creator’s game.” Zanini explained that the Native Americans invented the game of lacrosse and also coined the term “Creator’s game.” Cyr and Zanini even told me about a chant in Choctaw that the Crusaders like to use, which I will neither transcribe nor translate here for fear of misspelling.
Zanini hails from the Boston area, not far from the area where the “Creator’s game” was first played. He had some insights into lax language as well as lax culture. One word he introduced is “steez,” or “steezy”.
“[Steez is a] combination of style and ease, but it also means swag…basically how hot it is,” Zanini said. “If you wear an Oxford and your lacrosse shorts to class…with Sperrys, that’s steezy, because…the Oxford and Sperrys, that’s all about style, but then gym shorts, obviously that’s swag because the lax shorts have dope-ass patterns on them usually. You can also have steez in your cele.”
Finally, I learned about Zanini’s lacrosse sticks, or should I say, spoons. He has three main spoons: his game spoon, his morning spoon and his wooden spoon.
“You have a relationship with your spoon” Cyr said. Zanini’s spoons have names: His morning spoon, named Chelsea, has a very different personality than his game spoon, named Daisy.
“[Daisy] is way more aggressive,” he said. According to Zanini, Daisy is like Katy Perry, whereas Chelsea is more of “a real sweet girl, she’s been with me forever. She’s like the ‘high school sweetheart’…like a preppy blonde.” His wooden spoon, named Sacagawea, is “a real tough girl…getting back to the roots.” He named her after Sacagawea because the original Sacagawea “basically led the exploration of the West of this country.” Being hit by Sacagawea will most likely result in a broken finger, Zanini claimed.
While I was frantically trying to write everything down and their discussion was coming to an end, it hit me that I had finally come to a realization of what it really means to be a “Lax Bro.” The language of lacrosse is a mixture of Indian heritage, quirks from coaches and descriptive abbreviations. Lacrosse, I learned, is more than just a bunch of preppy dudes who think they are cool and athletic. Lacrosse is a historic sport, adopted by European settlers in New England. The average professional lacrosse player makes only a small percentage of what his football and basketball counterparts make. Lacrosse is not played for the money, but for the love of the game. In the words of Cyr: “It’s really a spiritual game.”