What‘s the fastest growing sport in Canada? Paradoxically it’s Canada’s oldest national sport, lacrosse, which was first declared the National Game of Canada in 1859 but which now carries the title Canada’s National Summer Sport.
Adding to the contradictions of the game, box lacrosse is played indoors in the summer (when the ice has left the nation‘s arenas) and outdoors in the winter. The indoor game is a bruising contest of strength, speed and agility while field lacrosse puts the emphasis on strategy and ball control.
For years box lacrosse was the game that came to mind when lacrosse was mentioned, but the field game has risen in popularity because it lets players continue to hone skills year round.
It hasn’t escaped the notice of American college coaches that Canadian players, both men and women, have unique skill sets, superior stick–handling skills and no fear of contact around the goal. In fact it was a pair of Victoria boys, Gary and Paul Gait, that dominated NCAA Div. 1 and changed the face of college lacrosse forever.
The field game on Vancouver Island has grown rapidly. Players from this neck of the woods are attending U.S. colleges on scholarships. Selena Lasota from Campbell River was a standout in her first year at Northwestern: she was named Rookie of the Year in women’s Div. 1 and scored the winning overtime goal to defeat the U.S. women’s squad at the World U19 championships in Scotland.
In local minor lacrosse, North Island Rage has teams competing in three Island divisions against tough competition from the mid-Island and Victoria. Travel, officiating, equipment and uniforms all cost money in regular league play. The ante is upped when the opportunity arises to show team and individual skills to scouts and college coaches at tournaments both in Canada and across the line.
To help defray rising costs and hold their own in a market where teams from many sports are soliciting operating bucks, the Rage have taken an exciting step.
On Saturday, Dec. 5 from 12- 4 p.m. you’l l have a chance to meet these young warriors at Phil’s Christmas Tree Farm on the Inland Island Highway, approximately 4.8km south of the Jubilee Parkway exit.
Head north on the Inland Island Highway. At the .Jubilee Parkway exit, find a safe place to turn around to head back south on the Inland Island Highway (you can’t access the farm from the northbound highway lane).
At 4.5km from the Jubilee Parkway, slow your vehicle and prepare to stop on the right side of the road. It will be marked with signage and balloons. You’ll see the power lines overhead and a large metal gate. Enter the gate and you’ve reached the start of the farm.
Say hello to the young men and women who will be delighted to help you pick that perfect tree and load it for you. Stay for a while, enjoy the bonfire, hotdogs, hot chocolate and take a hay wagon ride out to the tree forest to choose your perfect tree.
Make an afternoon of it and support the local kids who are playing one of Canada’s national sports.