By Sam Loveys
With an important nod to the past, the Gloucester Lacrosse Association held its largest Ray Broadworth Memorial Tournament ever from July 7-9, with close to 900 players competing across nine divisions, including three debut girls’ categories.
It was an action-packed weekend on east-end arena floors, but perhaps the biggest hit of the event was the new Indigenous logo unveiled to recognize the key role lacrosse can play in truth and reconciliation.
Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation artist and TV producer Jay Odjick spoke at the opening ceremonies to introduce the logo he’d designed.
“Jay is a natural born storyteller. He’s fantastic and funny and engaging,” recounts GLA president Stephanie Pagan. “He provided us with a video talking about the creation story and meaning behind his logo. The message was about coming together with lacrosse being the conduit for that.”
Players and families alike were moved by Odjick’s speech, Pagan adds.
“We had a U17 game afterwards and he stuck around afterwards for us to have further conversations,” she notes. “He ended up staying for a (large) portion of the evening.”
The logo was sold on GLA merchandise such as hoodies and T-shirts to promote its meaning and it was even used as a sticker on every player’s helmet. Custom medals and wooden player of the game awards were created as well.
“It was really powerful and very impactful to see on Saturday – people were coming to our tournament wearing the T-shirts and apparel. It was incredible to see how many people really connected with it and really admired the art and message behind it,” signals Pagan.
“It’s important for GLA that the kids know why they’re wearing the stickers. So that if anyone asks them about it, they can talk about the importance of its representation and what it really means.”
Opening ceremonies also featured councillor Laura Dudas, who spoke regarding the importance of community and making space for lacrosse to be played in Ottawa.
“In Ottawa, we do not have a lot of multi-pad arenas, so what happens is every year the ice goes in earlier and earlier, so we can’t run as long in the summer,” explains Pagan. “And then on the other side of it, we see that the ice is staying in longer so we’re not able to get venues to start our season and hold tryouts.”
Despite being Canada’s national summer sport, lacrosse isn’t given enough arena space to support the growing game, Pagan outlines. To counteract this, the GLA would love to take an ice facility that’s falling out of rotation and use it as a year-round lacrosse facility.
“We have nine lacrosse associations within the Ottawa area alone. Between the nine of us, a year-round facility makes sense for training purposes,” Pagan says.
For the first time, the Ray Broadworth Tournament featured girls-only divisions, with three clubs playing in the U15 level and four in the two older groups.
“The girls’ divisions went really well,” Pagan indicates. “From a provincial perspective, there’s not a lot of girls’ teams in the province and they’re trying to build up from the younger age levels.”
That was a key message delivered by Ontario Lacrosse Association technical director Sonya Crossey during the opening ceremonies. She noted how important it is to talk about the growing popularity of girls’ lacrosse at both a club and provincial level.
“We know there is a lot of work happening right now to grow the game for the girls and we believe everyone should hear about it,” highlights Pagan.
Gloucester shines in U22 and U13 boys’ divisions, Nepean dominates girls’ tournament
The host Gloucester Griffins took home the title in this year’s U22 open boys’ division. They came back from an early 1-0 deficit in the finals against the Sudbury Rockhounds, winning with a final score of 5-2 to complete their undefeated event.
The U13 Griffins boys fell just short of a title. Their only losses of the tournament came against the eventual champions, the Akwesasne Storm, who came back to win the final after trailing 3-2.
The Nepean Knights were the dominant force in the U9 boys’ division. Nepean’s closest game of five victories was in the championship final against Akwesasne, a 9-5 win. The Knights also reached the U15 boys’ division final, falling to the Mimico Mountaineers.
Nepean won two of the three girls’ divisions, taking the U15 and U22 crowns and placing second in U17. The two winning teams both went undefeated, dominating their competition 6-0 in U22 and 11-1 in the U15 division. The U17 Knights lost in a close match to Burlington Blaze 4-2 in the championship.
“It’s something to celebrate from the Ottawa area that the Nepean girls’ teams are doing so well,” underlines Pagan.
The winners of the U11, U15 and U17 boys’ divisions were the Barrie Bombers, Mimico Mountaineers and Orillia Kings, respectively.
The Griffins didn’t have a team entered in the U17 division at their home tournament, which is for the B/C level, because they’ve been busy competing in A qualifiers for the provincial championships. They currently sit on the edge of securing one of the six available berths in the top-tier provincials.
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