Again in 1974 with a team of mostly Western box players in Australia, and again, being somewhat “out of their element” field skill wise, game strategy wise, Canada played with limited success but, as a country we had a taste of this game. Field was emerging in Canada through these efforts and discussions were being held on the Field game, which some box people did not appreciate.
Box and Field are two vastly different games. Different muscles, different movements, different world.
Late in 1975 there was an effort in Ontario to expand the game of lacrosse beyond the box game into schools and out onto the field. The provincial government would supply funding to hire a coach and assist getting the game into schools with only one provision, that no one would be taken away from the box game to accomplish this. Trouble was that there was really no one in Canadian lacrosse who could do this Field experience wise, so the project stalled.
1976 saw the Canadian Lacrosse Association embark on a National Team plan and this was endorsed by the Ontario Lacrosse Association. This project was also not successful. They meant well but again, the struggle between box and field was evident. Where will all the people come from? The box structure was tied into mostly small towns, fed by minor systems. Field at the time was an American version of lacrosse really which was regional but somewhat successful and scholarships were available. There was reason to pursue this effort.
Two different administrative groups. One established and one fledgling without an on the ground team to work in areas of the country. Winter weather complicated things, other sports were established, even box was mostly Ontario and B.C for the most part with a bit of box being played in a few other places in Canada.
In 1977 again, the O.L.A. would take a kick at sending a team to the 1978 World Field Championships sending its President and Vice President to the Executive Meeting of the C.L.A. in Saskatoon. The O.L.A. feeling was that Canada should be represented and there had been Canadian box players earn scholarships to US colleges to play field and the handful or a couple more could be the start of putting a team on the field in Manchester.
The O.L.A. was advised that they should present this idea at the C.L.A. annual meeting in Charlottetown. Getting the run around the O.L.A. with good reason felt something was wrong.
It is easy to see early on that the climate in Ontario was somewhat contentious and, putting a team on the field that could compete was a bit far fetched. Funding such an effort was even more of a chore.
Even within the Ontario lacrosse community there were differences between influential people when it came to the box vs field subject. The O.L.A. executive has endorsed this project with one of the most, maybe THE most influential person in the game at that time, Jim Bishop being very much against the effort. He knew well that the best box players would be chosen, taken away from the box game to take part, as our field reservoir was kind of low.
Many things took place as this juggernaut moved slowly forward toward the 1977 C.L.A. AGM in Charlottetown P.E.I. Permission was given to the O.L.A. to represent Canada in England. Oddly, this is what the Ontario delegation thought they had received but not what the C.L.A. executive understood they agreed to…..and it begins. The C.L.A. actions over and again seemed to be aimed at scuttling this project.
This misunderstanding was to be the first of many situations where the entire project almost came off the rails. The efforts of Marshall Spence and Boyd Baragar, Doug Budden, current C.L.A President Keith Clarke (who was ill but still gave his all) and a few more unsung heroes in the O.L.A. really, cannot be overstated in this entire lead up period to us actually leaving for England as our National Team.
Taking any team anywhere can be an exercise full of unknowns. Putting trust in people to ensure things get done as a group, always begins with the assumption that everyone involved is pulling in the same direction with common goals and will do their assigned jobs. Remember 1977, no cell phones or internet, not even sure there were “beepers”.
Geography, jobs, infrequent in person meetings, family obligations all fill up the day for most. Working from a checklist of volunteer people with delegated, understood responsibilities is how things get done but … only if everyone does their job. Lots of moving parts and many tasks for this small group of people.
This project involved tens of thousands of dollars, government grants and lots of planning. A training camp to decide who will be on the team, a coach, and coaching staff, organizing the structure that would make this all come together, practice sites, rooms, meals, travel, exhibition games to learn how to play, which sounds a bit funny on its own.