Lacrosse may have been developed as early as 1100 AD among indigenous peoples in North America. Among many tribes these games were played as part of ceremonial ritual and played a significant role across the continent for many years. Lacrosse remained an unknown sport until 1637, when the French Jesuit missionary by the name of Jean de Brebeuf witnessed a game being played by the Huron Indians in present-day Ontario. He called it la crosse, "the stick" in French. In the early 1800's French settlers in Montreal took-up the game of lacrosse and the game started to become a more civilized and organized sport. In some areas men and women played together, and in other areas women had their own version of the game.
The first lacrosse organization, the Olympic Club, was founded in Montreal in 1842. William George Beers, a Canadian dentist, called “the father of lacrosse,” founded the Montreal Lacrosse Club in 1856, and codified the game in 1860. In 1867 the National Lacrosse Association was founded. In the United States, lacrosse during the late 1800s and first half of the 1900s was primarily a regional sport centered around the Mid-Atlantic states, especially New York and Maryland. In 1877 New York University fielded the first college team in the nation and by 1882, the game was picked-up by several private high schools. In 1906 the U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse League was formed.
The new sport proved to be very popular and spread across the English-speaking world, by 1900 there were dozens of men's clubs in Canada, the United States, England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa... Lacrosse was so popular that it was a medal sport in 1904 and the 1908 Summer Olympics. The World Lacrosse Championship began in 1968, in Toronto, Canada, and the Women's Lacrosse World Cup began in 1982, in Nottingham, England. The International Federation of Women's Lacrosse Associations (IFWLA) was founded in 1972, while the men's International Lacrosse Federation (ILF) was founded in 1974. In 2008 ILF merged with IFWLA to form the World Lacrosse (WL).