Volume 93, Issue 5

Friday, June 11, 1999


Throw another fastball on the barby

Howling good time at the Werewolves opener

Women's hockey sharpening their blades and kicking some serious ice

Game of lacrosse keeps netting fans

Millenium moment

Game of lacrosse keeps netting fans

By Chad Thompson
Gazette Staff

Despite the fall of the Maple Leafs, another Toronto team was able to win a national title – in lacrosse.

The Toronto Rock, of the National Lacrosse League, won the leagues championship and in turn sparked a renewed interest in the sport.

"I think we helped raise the awareness of lacrosse in Canada," said Michael Sullivan, director of media and public relations for the Toronto Rock. "Being in Toronto gave a lot of people the ability to see the games on television as CTV Sportsnet covered a few of our games."

With the success of the Toronto Rock, Bruce Wawrzynack, vice-president of public relations for the National Lacrosse League, said he hopes for further expansion into Canada. "We are hoping for an expansion team in Montreal," he said. "We are also interested in Ottawa and have a big interest in Western Canada.

"Hockey fans will enjoy coming to a game," Wawrzynack added. "It is a combination of different sports."

Sullivan agreed with Wawrzynack and said Lacrosse offers fans a fast-paced game which is affordable. "The highest ticket price for a Rock game is $20 – the game has a great entertainment value."

The success of the Toronto Rock has filtered down to the provincial level according to Tom Peters, director of membership services at the Ontario Lacrosse Association.

"The profile of the Rock helped us," he said. "We will know the numbers later but a lot of our minor organizations have had increased fan support because of the exposure."

Peters agreed the game offers a fast flowing style of play but was a relatively inexpensive sport to participate in. "The organizations usually give the players their sticks and they can use their hockey equipment to play," he said. "The sport allows players to improve conditioning as it as fast a sport as hockey."

According to Sullivan, in order to increase the sport's popularity, lacrosse needs more exposure in the media. "In Canada, a lot of people don't get to see the sport," Sullivan said. "It is big in Ontario and British Coloumbia. The NLL needs more games than 12 a year – it would be nice to play more games and have more games on television."

Peters agreed the exposure will help the sport's development. "It will continue to develop at a high level," he said. "Different areas of the game are expanding, like women's field lacrosse and minor field lacrosse."

As far the Olympics, Peters was optimistic lacrosse will eventually be added to the roster of sports. "Field lacrosse is a good team sport," he said. "The women's game is a perfect sport for the Olympics."

Steve Sternersen, executive director of the United States Lacrosse Association, said the Olympics is in the distant future. "We do not have the required number of countries participating in field lacrosse to have a medal sport," he said. "Plus, there are so many sports in the summer Olympics that there is not enough room yet."

At a university level lacrosse is slowly receiving the recognition it deserves. Peters cites the fact women's lacrosse is sanctioned by Ontario University Athletics. "Right now there are 12 teams in Ontario but this also needs to happen out West."

Darwin Semotiuk, chair of athletics at Western, said lacrosse is up for sanctioning from the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union.

"Lacrosse has an OUA league but is not sanctioned by the CIAU as varsity status," he said. "The CIAU is going to review it along with other sports for inclusion."

Semotiuk said Western has a lacrosse club and the students have demonstrated a desire to have the sport.

"The sport is really supported here," he said. "After demonstrating the need, there has to be funding and facilities and that will be looked into after sanctioning."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999