Lacrosse Featured in St. Catharines
Decades ago, I had the good fortune to work summers at the Fort Erie racetrack as did many Niagara based NHL players whose salary then was not quite what it is today.
In a morning league for track employees, I shot golf with famed Chicago Blackhawk centre Stan Mikita who, as a junior, played for the St. Catharines Teepees. In the evenings, I played in a fastball league with Gerry Cheevers (our second baseman) a St. Catharines native and NHL goalie for Stanley Cup Boston Bruins teams. One day, we all watched Gerry play box lacrosse for St. Catharines. He played centre, and he was very quick without skates.
That was my first taste of lacrosse, originally played by Canadian natives. Lacrosse and hockey are Canada’s two official national sports.
The Mohawk, Seneca, Cherokee and Ojibwa playing lacrosse were often viewed by early explorers. The Europeans named it “La Crosse” after a bishop’s crosier. It was also called Baggataway (Ojibwa) by native tribes.
St. Catharines is the proud home of the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame; it’s also home to Canada’s most successful university lacrosse program.
The mighty Brock Badgers have captured 18 Baggataway Cup national titles in the 31-year history of the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association. They will try to extend that number on home turf as Brock hosts the national championship this weekend.
The Badgers’ first game of the CUFLA championships is Friday, Nov. 4 at 5 p.m. when they host Ottawa in the quarter-finals. Games continue through to the gold medal match Sunday at 1 p.m.
Weekend passes are $25 and individual game tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. Throughout the weekend there will be food trucks on site and a licensed area. Games will also be streamed online at brocktv.ca.
In addition to the games themselves, a focus of the weekend will be on St. Catharines’ place in the history of lacrosse in Canada, and on display will be a certificate from the 1908 Olympic Gold Medal win by St. Catharines native Frank Dixon.
Born in 1878, Dixon is considered one of the Top 50 lacrosse players of all time, and in 1908 – the last year men’s lacrosse was a full sport in the Olympics – he helped Canada win gold.
Also being recognized this weekend will be some of the successful Brock lacrosse graduates. Since its inception, the program has sent 40 players and five coaches to the National Lacrosse League.
Brock will unveil a special plaque in Walker Complex recognizing the program and its exceptional alumni, including Shawn Williams, one of the top players in lacrosse over the past two decades.
Williams, who will be at the championships this weekend, is the all-time leading scorer for the Badgers. In his five seasons, Williams was a five-time team MVP, four-time Baggataway Cup champion as a player and two-time Baggataway Cup champion as a coach. Like Frank Dixon, Williams represented Canada on the world stage winning three World Championships during his career. He is the only CUFLA player to be honoured by a university’s Sports Hall of Fame.
The Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Museum is located at the Welland Canal Centre, Lock 3
St. Catharines, Ontario L2R 7C2, Toll Free: 1-800-305-5134, website: http://ontariolacrossehalloffame.com/
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