On March 8, the Jacksonville Armadillos Lacrosse Club captured the 2015 Florida Lacrosse League Championship, their third in a row. The finals matched the Armadillos against Ft. Lauderdale, where the Dillos’ dominated Lauderdale on both sides of the ball, ultimately crushing their South Florida rival 19–4. This extended the Jacksonville crew’s win streak to 29 and 0 over the past three years, with previous championships dating back to 1977, 1981, 1984 and 1994. Captain Craig Carson has a streak of his own, earning league MVP honors for the second season in a row. The St. Johns County police officer controls face-offs like no other in the league, and is one of the Dillos’ most valuable assets.
Jax Lax was formed in the 1970s as the Jacksonville Roadside Armadillos. Now operating out of Ponte Vedra Beach, the team calls St. Johns County home. Long before Jacksonville University pondered a Division I lacrosse program, before PV, Bolles, or Nease formed their programs, there was lacrosse being played in North Florida. I’m not referring to a few novices throwing a ball around, I am talking about some of the best players in the world playing organized lacrosse and laying the foundation for the meteoric rise in popularity and participation that we see on Florida’s First Coast today.
The very first documented team in the state was at the University of Florida in 1971. It was formed by Lehn Abrams, who was there from day one and is still involved as a referee and with U.S. lacrosse. That season, UF played two games, one against the University of the South (Suwanee), in Gainesville and an away game at Georgia Tech. In 1973, the Florida Lacrosse League was formed with teams at Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida International University, Orlando, Tampa and Pensacola.
Many of the original Jacksonville lacrosse players came to the area for Navy deployments, forming a team that included many guys that had played together at the U.S. Naval Academy and while at flight training in Pensacola. They filled out the squad with other transplanted lacrosse players whose jobs or families brought them to North Florida. The Jacksonville Lacrosse Club won their first Florida Lacrosse League Championship in 1977.
In the mid-1970s, the Florida Lacrosse League was formed, as similar teams that were comprised of predominantly transplanted college players and a few curious Floridians were popping up throughout the state. After bouncing around as the Jacksonville Lacrosse Club and the Hooters Lacrosse Club, the Jacksonville men’s team has gone back to their roots and adopted their original nickname, The Jacksonville Roadside Armadillos in 2011. The length of the shorts, the design of the sticks and the recognition of lacrosse in the area may have changed, but the passion, camaraderie and the love of the sport amongst these lacrosse true believers has not.
If you are a lacrosse junkie or just a casual fan, contact the Roadside Armadillos on Facebook, follow @Lax904, come out to one of our legendary Sunday scrimmages, and learn more about lacrosse in North Florida.
By: Ray Carnicelli | Contributor