High school boys lacrosse continues to grow, develop and solidify itself in the Bellingham sports landscape

The origins of lacrosse date back centuries to the indigenous communities of North America, where various tribes played versions of the game known as “baggataway” or “tewaarathon.” The game served both cultural and spiritual purposes, settling disputes and training warriors. European settlers observed and adapted the game in the 17th century, leading to the development of the modern version. The Montreal Lacrosse Club played a crucial role in formalizing the rules as we know them today.

Lacrosse grew in popularity, leading to the emergence of organized competitions and its inclusion as an Olympic sport in 1904 and 1908. Today, lacrosse is a global sport with professional leagues such as the MLL and NLL, with continued efforts to honor its Indigenous heritage.

Bellingham Lacrosse History

Locally, the Whatcom Warriors started in 2005 as a K-12 lacrosse program. The Whatcom Warriors high school team competed throughout the state, succeeding against teams from the east and the Seattle metro area, and even won the state championship.

After the success of Whatcom Lacrosse in 2017, the Washington High School Boys Lacrosse Association (WHSBLA) organized Whatcom teams into individual high school teams. The Bellingham Warriors Youth Lacrosse Club still exists today as a K-8 program.

By 2019, Bellingham (pictured) and Squalicum high schools had created their own separate lacrosse teams, moving away from what was originally a cooperative agreement. Photo credit: Eli Martens

High School Lacrosse in Bellingham

The city of Bellingham currently has three teams competing in the Washington High School Boys Lacrosse Association (WHSBLA): Bellingham, Sehome and Squalicum.

“Lacrosse is a club sport at the high school level in most Washington school districts,” says Andrew Simmons of Sehome High School Lacrosse. “A volunteer board of directors runs each club and is financed through fundraising and player contributions. The Washington State High School Boys Lacrosse Association governs it.

Locally, in 2017, Sehome High School fielded its lacrosse team, while Bellingham High School (BHS) and Squalicum High School (SQHS) joined forces to compete as a combined team under the Bellingham banner.

In 2019, BHS and SQHS each created their separate lacrosse teams, moving away from the cooperative agreement to compete independently.

In addition to home games in Bellingham, local high school teams play at Lynden-Bender Field, BHS, SQHS, Burlington, Mount Vernon, Stanwood, Sedro-Woolley, Jackson High School (in Mill Creek), and Anacortes. For the playoffs, they travel to Enumclaw, Sumner, Puyallup and Tukwila.

Bellingham Lacrosse takes the field. Photo credit: Eli Martens

Longtime player honored to play for his school and city

Eli Martens is a longtime lacrosse player in Bellingham. He started playing the game 12 years ago, when he was a freshman, and continued throughout the Whatcom lacrosse programs, and when Bellingham had just one team.

He was excited when his school, Bellingham High, got its own team. For him, it’s the experience of his life.

“Playing at Bellingham High School was a completely unforgettable experience,” Martens said. “I have had nothing but positive experiences with my teammates and coaches throughout my four years playing here.”

Martens hopes one day lacrosse will become a college sport.

“Lacrosse is a great sport for anyone looking for a way to improve in all aspects of athleticism,” Martens says. “It is perfect for improving hand-eye coordination, speed, agility and gaining confidence on and off any sports field.” Photo credit: Eli Martens

“Lacrosse is still not recognized as a school sport and is only a club sport in high schools,” he says, “but I hope it continues to grow and eventually be recognized as a real university sport funded and managed by the school) sport.

Martens hopes more people will consider playing the game at the youth and high school level. And although lacrosse is very different from most sports, he finds it incredibly similar to football, basketball and hockey.

“Lacrosse is a great sport for anyone looking for a way to improve in all aspects of athleticism,” Martens says. “It is perfect for improving hand-eye coordination, speed, agility and gaining confidence on and off any sports field.”

Additional Bellingham Lacrosse Information

For more information about high school lacrosse in Bellingham, please check out these resources:

Lacrosse at Sehome High School

Bellingham High School Lacrosse

Lacrosse at Squalicum High School