Aboriginal Sports Circle initiates lacrosse program

The Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle is attempting what others have failed to do in the past: establish the sport of lacrosse in the Yukon.

The Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle is attempting what others have failed to do in the past: establish the sport of lacrosse in the Yukon.

“I know there have been several attempts to launch lacrosse in the Yukon,” said executive director Gael Marchand. “When we started to advertise lacrosse, we had some people come to us saying, ‘We tried to two years ago.’ So we have a lot of people who have been trying for the last five, 10 years and are now working with us.

“I think this time it will take – it will work.”

If it doesn’t take, it won’t be for a lack of trying. The Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle (YASC) has launched a multipronged approach to making lacrosse a permanent part of the Yukon sports scene.

Through a two-day community coaching clinic a little over a week ago, the YASC has accumulated close to 10 coaches.

For the last two months, the YASC has hosted drop-in lacrosse scrimmages for kids and adults at the Canada Games Centre, Wednesdays in the fieldhouse.

Last week, the organization held a one-week camp attended by 25 kids at the Games Centre, which wrapped up with a mini tournament.

The YASC has already arranged weekly times for lacrosse at the Games Centre to run through the winter starting in September.

The long-term goal is the establishment of local leagues and Yukon representative teams.

“We want to establish a league, for both children and adults, and hopefully have some rep teams to travel to various events,” said Marchand. “Lacrosse is a First Nations game. We have the North American Indigenous Games coming up in 2014 and we would like to have a lacrosse team in there – in Regina, Saskatchewan.

“We just want to establish lacrosse here so it’s everywhere. We’ve already talked to the City of Whitehorse and there will be five hours of lacrosse a week at the Canada Games Centre (starting in September) for kids and adults to drop in and practise lacrosse.”

Being introduced to Whitehorse is box lacrosse, also known as indoor lacrosse. Box lacrosse, unlike field lacrosse, is played by teams of six in a walled-in facility like the fieldhouse at the Games Centre.

“Right now there’s a lot of support from the hockey community,” said Marchand. “We play box lacrosse and box lacrosse is very similar to hockey.

“In September, even some of the top girls teams … will be training in lacrosse once a week as cross training. Hopefully these girls will be competitive in lacrosse tournaments by next spring.”

Not only was last week’s camp co-organized by the Whitehorse Minor Hockey Association, the NorthwesTel Summit Hockey School camp taking place this week will conduct lacrosse scrimmages each day.

“It’s perfect cross training when there is no ice-time – they can come practise lacrosse,” said Marchand.

The YASC is getting a little Outside help in preparing their coaches and players. Yukon’s Nathan Wilson, whose mother is Carcross/Tagish First Nations, is lending his expertise to the effort.

Wilson plays in the West Coast Senior Lacrosse League in Vancouver and has won two President Cups, the Senior B division national trophy, with his Ladner Pioneer lacrosse team.

“It’s an awesome feeling to have this sort of thing going on,” said Wilson. “Coaches have given to me in the past and now I want to give back to other coaches.

“To let it grow as big as possible is the best thing we can have.”

The YASC, which is a member of the national body, Canada’s Aboriginal Sport Circle, will also continue to promote traditional Arctic sports and Dene games, but is also working to boost interest in archery.

The sport circle has held archery clinics and has amassed about 15 coaches for that sport.

“We have another batch of training coming in September for the next level of coaching,” said Marchand. “We have a lot of response in archery. We have about 100 people taking an archery workshop in communities and in schools.”

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