Ladies first. That sentiment exists when opening doors or offering a seat, but it has never been true with team sports.
So when Kim Sholly took her son, Gordon, 6, to his league lacrosse practice, she brought a novel to pass the time, and suggested her daughter, Sydney, 10, bring one, too.
"We had brought our books and were all ready to sit on the bleachers," she said.
But Margot Dragon, coach for the new girls' lacrosse team, a sister team to the boys', happened to be holding practice at the same time on a nearby field. Dragon often sees girls sitting on the sidelines while their brothers play on the field. So she frequently offers them a chance to toss the ball with her team.
"Margot came up to us and said, 'You guys aren't going to sit there, are you? Aren't you going to play?'" Sholly said of her first meeting with Dragon.
Sydney took a white stick and tossed the orange ball with the coach.
Soon, she too, was netted.
Add one more member to the team.
Lacrosse is a relatively new sport in the south, mostly popular at private schools like Cannon School, which is the only institution in Cabarrus County to have a team.
Jeff Copeland hopes to change that.
Last spring he started a new lacrosse league called The Clash, which has grown to more than 100 male players. This fall, he branched out to add a girls' team within the league.
Steadily, under Dragon's coaching, the numbers have risen to 19 players, ranging in age from 7 to 15.
Copeland and Dragon hope to eventually get enough players to convince the Cabarrus School District to begin school teams.
Dragon has played lacrosse longer than she can remember. She grew up in Connecticut, down the road from her best friend Judith, whose father is in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. He provided the girls with all the equipment and know-how for the game throughout their childhoods.
Finesse is best
While lacrosse is a contact sport for boys, it is not for girls, so they have to rely even more heavily on teamwork and dodging opponents.
"The girls' is more of a finesse game than the guys'," Dragon said. Watching her players practice a rolling dodge, a technique where a player spins to the side to avoid an opponent, seems as graceful and choreographed as a dance.
The girls love the sport.
"I like running and making goals," said Renee Rodriguez, a seventh-grader at Northwest Middle School. "I feel like I achieve something."
"It gets your body moving," Sydney Sholly said.
New season coming
The game teaches skills and teamwork, Dragon said, but it also teaches the girls something else.
"There's nothing wrong with being powerful and beautiful at the same time," said Dragon, who besides coaching lacrosse is a martial artist and former model.
The fall season for The Clash is winding down, and before the spring season begins in February, the league will hold playdates at Dorton Park once a month to prepare current and prospective players.