Future of Lacrosse in Quinte Looks Bright
By Joe Fee Quinte Bayhawks Lacrosse
Lacrosse is Canada’s national summer sport and the Quinte Minor Lacrosse Association was formed in 2019 to provide all youth from the ages 3-16 (and later 3-21) with the opportunity to learn and play the sport locally.
Over the last 15 years, lacrosse has consistently been among the fastest growing sports in North America. In Belleville and the Quinte region, lacrosse has been played for many years, however, it has not been able to ‘stick around’ for various reasons. With a renewed effort, the organizers and volunteers of the QMLA aim to change that by providing a fun, active and safe environment for boys and girls to learn and enjoy the sport.
Historically, Belleville lacrosse teams have come home as Ontario champions at least five times: 1972, ‘73, ’75, ’78 and ’82, plus participated in the peewee Nationals in 1973. In our inaugural 2019 season, the peewee Quinte Bayhawks were finalists in their division at the Ontario championships, which is a testament to the talent and potential that already exists in the area.
Lacrosse can be played in two forms — box or field — and both are very popular.
Box lacrosse is played in a hockey rink once the ice comes out in the spring, or on artificial turf surfaces placed over the ice during winter months. Box lacrosse is an option for players aspiring to play at the professional level in the National Lacrosse League, featuring teams from all over North America — including the Toronto Rock.
Field lacrosse, played outdoors on a football-sized grass or artificial turf field, is very popular as a varsity sport at secondary and post-secondary schools. Currently, field lacrosse is played at Eastside S.S. in Belleville, with interest growing at other local high schools as well as various schools across Ontario.
Field lacrosse is growing at the college and university level across Canada and has always been an extremely popular sport on the NCAA stage in the U.S., where many Ontario players have gone on to enjoy very successful careers while completing their educations. There are also opportunities to play field lacrosse professionally in the Major Lacrosse League and Premier Lacrosse League, both based in the U.S.
The QMLA currently offers box lacrosse, but is aiming to introduce a field lacrosse program in the fall. Players will have the option to play box or field — or both. Either way, players can develop the essential lacrosse skills common to both forms and follow a path that suits them best.
With a focus on development at the younger ages, the QMLA hopes to ensure that the future of lacrosse in Quinte is a bright one with continued success and sustainability. Children as young as three can participate in our learn-to-play program and at age five can progress to a modified 3-on-3 cross-floor program, much the same as minor hockey has implemented in recent years.
By offering both recreational and competitive streams, the QMLA ensures that all players glean the most enjoyment from the sport, depending on what level of commitment and development they seek. A girls-only lacrosse program is also an option from ages 11 and up, with an increasing number of females playing the game across Ontario and strong local girls-only programs already existing in Kingston and Tyendinaga.
Also, you may soon see lacrosse instructors and/or professionals providing in-school programs locally to introduce the sport and its history to students of all ages.
With the current uncertainty surrounding the 2020 box lacrosse season due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the QMLA is looking forward to the fall and 2021 season to regain momentum and continue to grow the sport in the Quinte region.