By Ottawa Sports Pages, For Gloucester Lacrosse Association
Gloucester Griffins players celebrated many big wins with their local squads and at higher levels of lacrosse this season, but the biggest victory of all came on GLA Day back in May.
The season kick-off event that featured fun activities around a full slate of Griffins games meant lacrosse was back in the capital. And though the first season following two years of COVID-induced interruptions presented challenges both new and old for the Gloucester Lacrosse Association, bringing the community together around Canada’s national summer sport was the #1 triumph.
“Everyone was back and having fun again, and that’s really what’s most important,” underlines GLA President Stephanie Pagan.
It was “really tough” initially for the GLA to get volunteers in place to run a full slate of house league, competitive and girls’ programs, but enthusiasm grew throughout the season, and come the association’s annual general meeting in mid-October, a strong group of individuals with positive personalities and experience in many youth sports stepped forward to fill leadership positions on the board of directors.
“We’ve also had others who have come forward and said, ‘I really want to help, and I really want to be involved,'” adds Pagan. “I was really impressed.”
The GLA’s IDEA Committee (for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action) is another key organizational initiative gaining traction. A major moment in those efforts came during Gloucester’s home Ray Broadworth Tournament, when Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Famer and Mohawk leader Mike Kanentakeron Mitchell spoke about the origins of lacrosse, its connection to Indigenous Peoples, and its impact beyond sport.
A Gloucester team and counterparts from Kahnawake gathered together for the speech, and to view sticks from different eras that Mitchell brought along.
“Mike is such a charismatic and engaging speaker. It was fantastic to be able to have him with us, and it was really powerful for everyone to be together in that space,” Pagan recounts.
“He talked about when he was Chief on the reserve, there was a real division across the community, so they had a big lacrosse game to help mend and heal,” she adds. “It was really great hearing about lacrosse in that perspective, and knowing that’s the kind of path we want to follow – we want to acknowledge and have those conversations more and more.”
Lots of on-floor success to celebrate too
At the Broadworth Tournament, Kahnawake won the U9 division, Akwesasne won U17, and Gloucester topped each level in between (U11, U13 and U15).
The Griffins enjoyed several standout performances at the 2022 Ontario Lacrosse Festival to close the season of revival.
The U22 Griffins won three games and tied another to reach the ‘A’ division championship game, where they ultimately took silver medals behind Niagara.
The Gloucester U17 girls also played in the ‘A’ division provincials, and the U11 Griffins showed that GLA has some great young talent rising as they became the first team in GLA history to qualify for the ‘A’ provincials at that level. The U11s had 7-5, 6-5 and 5-3 defeats in their three contests, but produced the closest result out of all challengers against champion Orangeville.
“We did really, really well,” signals Pagan, noting that Gloucester often played with the handicap of short benches. “Amazing work by everyone.”
A number of Griffins also had exceptional performances on the national stage this summer. Bryceson Lamoureux and Brody Potenza were U15 Boys’ Box Lacrosse National Champions with Team Ontario, while Hunter Lubiniecki, Tristan Caldwell and Julien Belair won silver medals in the male Canada Summer Games competition, while Tristan Thompson made history with Ontario as the first-ever CSG champions in female lacrosse.
Gloucester alumni made lots of noise at the senior level as well. Jordan Stouros won a Canadian senior men’s Mann Cup championship with the Peterborough Lakers. The 26-year-old will soon begin his second year in the National Lacrosse League with the Buffalo Bandits, and he’ll have some company in Cam Wyers, who was selected 13th overall by the Bandits in the NLL entry draft, while Cam Badour and Carter Brand were both chosen by the Saskatchewan Rush.
Enthusiasm growing as lacrosse rebounds
Heading into the winter season, the challenge of accessing appropriate and affordable training space has returned for the GLA and other local clubs, who would love to see a facility developed for year-round lacrosse.
“Ideally, we’d like to work with the City to acquire a single pad that is decommissioned and will no longer have ice, and that will be a home for the nine lacrosse clubs in Ottawa,” explains Pagan, though the City has indicated it is not looking to remove any ice at present.
A facility devoted to Canada’s national summer sport in the nation’s capital would enable growth in the sport from many perspectives, adds Pagan, who witnessed exceptional enthusiasm for lacrosse during the GLA’s elementary school introductory program in particular.
Made possible thanks to an Ontario Trillium Foundation Resilient Communities Fund grant, the GLA worked alongside the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board’s Indigenous Education and Learning Team to introduce students to the sport’s strong Indigenous roots and historical significance, while giving them the chance to pick up a stick, learn some basic skills and have fun.
“Our school program was phenomenal, we got really amazing feedback,” notes Pagan. “Every school wants us to visit, so that’s another sign of really good things to come.”
Visit gloucester-lacrosse.com to learn more about the GLA and available programs.