Plans in place for Yukon lacrosse team at Indigenous Games

Turnout has been pretty low in a lacrosse drop-in the last two weeks at the Canada Games Centre, but coach Neil McGrath isn’t ready to give up.

Turnout has been pretty low in a lacrosse drop-in the last two weeks at the Canada Games Centre, but coach Neil McGrath isn’t ready to give up.

He hopes numbers will pick up enough to make next summer a significant one.

McGrath wants to bring Yukon’s first-ever lacrosse team to the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) next July in Toronto, Ont.

He just needs players, even if they’ve never held a lacrosse stick before.

“It’s not hard to learn; you shouldn’t be nervous to learn,” said McGrath. “It might seem a little complicated at first, but we’ve got all the equipment here, you just have to come with an open mind and we’ll teach you what to do. I think there’s lots to get out of it. It’s a medicine game, as we say back home, and through that I think it’s a great opportunity for youth.

“If you hang around here anyway, come give it a try and see if you like it.”

The push for a Yukon team at NAIG is an initiative spearheaded by the Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle (YASC), which has attempted to get the sport — Canada’s national summer sport — off the ground in the territory for years. The YASC began weekly drop-ins and held a youth camp in the summer of 2012, looking to establish representative teams with little success.

The Yukon Indian Hockey Association has also included lacrosse sessions in its annual Learning to Lead summer hockey camp the last few years.

“I approached (YASC) because I’ve been playing lacrosse since I was a little kid. I talked to them a few times in the past and then in the summer we’ve been talking formally about putting together a program,” said McGrath. “Hopefully we can start a NAIG team or a drop-in or maybe a recreational league at some point down the road.”

If all goes according to plan, YASC will enter a team in box lacrosse, the indoor form of the sport. Box lacrosse uses smaller nets, an enclosed field with walls, and six players a side like hockey. There are lots of similarities to hockey, “and I’d say with basketball as well in the way that offence and defence are set up, especially for indoor,” said McGrath. “There are lots of parallels with hockey, especially with hand-eye coordination. Lots of great NHL hockey players — Wayne Gretzky, John Tavares — are lacrosse players during the summer.

“If you want to get better at hockey, hand-eye coordination, some physical stuff too, it’s all conducive to playing hockey.”

To enter a team at NAIG, McGrath would like 12 to 20 players. He could maybe get by with 10, he said, but there’d be some pretty tired legs by the end of each game.

Also, he wants to enter an under-16 girls team. He feels a girls squad in the younger age-group would be a good place to start for a fledgling team.

“The best approach to starting out is to keep it to the U16 girls because especially for the boys their U16 teams and especially U19 teams are pretty competitive,” said McGrath. “Ontario’s team, Alberta’s team, B.C.’s team — they’ve all been playing since they’ve been little kids.

“If they just started playing six months ago, playing against these guys — obviously it would be fun, it would be a great experience — but it would be a little bit valuable to develop the program a little bit before throwing people in there.”

McGrath, who is from the Ottawa area and moved to Whitehorse four years ago, speaks from experience. He played minor and junior lacrosse in Ontario and Quebec in his younger days. He twice helped his Nepean Knights win Ontario’s minor lacrosse championship.

McGrath and assistant coach Emily Hurley are hosting weekly drop-ins every Wednesday at the Canada Games Centre from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before using it on Nov. 24. The Yukon government is reopening the drive-thru option on June 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Drive-up COVID-19 testing opening June 18 in Whitehorse

The drive-up testing will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. everyday and increase testing capacity by 33 spots

A draft plan has been released by the Dawson Regional Use Planning commission on June 15. Julien Gignac/Yukon News
Draft plan released by the Dawson Regional Land Use Planning Commission

Dawson Regional Land Use Commission releases draft plan, Government of Yukon withdraws additional lands from mineral staking in the planning region

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Let them live in trailers

“I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city… Continue reading

X
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for June 18, 2021.… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs nine new COVID-19 cases, 54 active cases

More CEMA enforcement officers have been recruited, officials say

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read