Promoting Canada’s National Sport

Terry Mosdale wants to see the sport of lacrosse take root and grow in the Yukon.

The learning facilitator and officiating clinician with the Canadian Lacrosse Association was in Whitehorse a couple of weekends ago to train a group of new Yukon lacrosse coaches to help make that happen.

Mosdale, who travelled to the territory from Vancouver, has been an active participant in the sport for more than 20 years.

“I grew up in a region of the country with a very strong lacrosse focus,” he explains. “Everyone in my community was involved, so at 13 I started playing and I haven’t looked back since.”

Twenty years ago, Mosdale turned his passion into a career and started training coaches.

“I wanted to share my passion for this sport with others, especially in the West, where it isn’t as popular currently.”

He adds, “Having the opportunity help the Whitehorse area to develop lacrosse is a huge privilege. If my work in the territory over this weekend helps to establish a long-term presence for the sport I will consider this workshop immensely successful.”

The impetus for Mosdale’s trip north was a request from the Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle.

“We really strive to establish and foster traditional sports in the territory,” program assistant George Smith explains.

“Lacrosse, on top of being Canada’s national sport, is a traditional First Nations sport that is played widely throughout Eastern Canada and the prairies. We thought it would be great to bring it North and to showcase it to a Yukon audience.”

The coaching course proved popular, especially with members of the Yukon’s hockey community, who saw it as a fantastic opportunity for cross-training. The exposure to skills and training these new coaches received over the workshop has given them the skills to get community lacrosse programs up and running in the territory.

The first of these programs began on June 13. It’s a summer drop-in program that will take place every Wednesday through August 15 at the Elijah Smith Elementary School gym and field.

The free program is open to everyone and runs from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

“A large part of the summer program will be strength training and conditioning combined with lacrosse-specific sport drills. It should be excellent cross-training for hockey players,” explains Smith, who will be running the summer program.

He hopes to see more than just the hockey crowd at the program, however.

“We’re tailoring the program for everyone. No athletic experience is necessary, as we’re offering variations for different skill levels. It’s really fun; anyone who is at all interested in the sport should come out and join us.”

Looking further down the road, the Aboriginal Sports Circle wants to help establish school lacrosse teams this fall.

“As long as the interest is there, we’ll do everything in our power to make it happen,” says Smith. “If a school doesn’t have enough players to fill a full roster we’ll work with them to join forces with another school.

“We’re also putting some plans in place with the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s summer day camp,” he adds.

“We’re hoping to partner with Aikido Yukon and Whitehorse Minor Hockey to run a ‘lacrosse week’ as part of the camps programs. We would be focussing our instruction in that setting around the First Nation’s traditions associated with the sport.”

Ultimately the Aboriginal Sport Circle would like to see lacrosse permanently established in the territory.

“If we can get the interest built up over the next year we’ll bring in a facilitator to teach our coaches the competition level coaching course,” says Smith.

“It would be fabulous to have a Yukon lacrosse team that could compete with teams down south.”

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