By RON DUQUETTE
Sally who ?. Sorry there Kevin Parsons, that was not intended to imply your banishment to the showers but simply to generate some food for thought on the possibility of such an arena announcement, who knows how many years down the road!
It suddenly occurred to me during a research campaign for this story which was to deal with the develop- ment of young players, minor sys- tems, a youngster’s evolution to the pro ranks and all, that the possibility of seeing a member of the fairer sex becoming a pro prospect is perhaps quite realistic. I mean after all, in this age where the female is seeking to re-define her role in society … …I mean really … why why not! not! I’m not your average male chauvinist … the idea has a kind of intriguing ring to it. Imagine the promotional potential!
Here’s the scene … Sally Smith shows up at camp complete with a shot like Dave Wilfong, the speed of Billy Foote, checking ability of Len Powers and built like Doug Hayes. Well … maybe I won’t go so far as to include the latter. I’d prefer Raquel Welch. She didn’t do a bad job as a roller derby queen. Anyway, the question is, how does coach Morley Kells handle the situation? I’ll have to ask him sometime and report back.
The trend has started … female jockeys, female sports announcers doing a refreshing, admirable job, female newspaper reporters invading the sweat-filled locker rooms, just to name a few. And, who can forget the rough, tough babes of roller derby. Eileen Stewart, a hard driving executive from the now existing girls lacrosse world in Ontario, is one who advocates the women’s entrance into pro sports … particularly men’s sports.
She is also quick to inform me that the field version of lacrosse has been played by women for many years in Great Britain and indeed there are over 400 young ladies from ages 6 to 19 playing the game on an organized basis in Southern Ontario right now. “It’s popularity is spreading across the country” she claims, “and growing in leaps and bounds. And yes, the girls play a very physical game and in some respects can handle the stick and them- selves as well as their counterparts.” Anyways with those interesting statistics, I’ll turn back to the original intent of this piece and suffice it to say that minor lacrosse is alive and well indeed in many parts of Canada, particularly Southern Ontario and British Columbia. Although popular in a few suburban centres like Mimico, (outside Toronto) for any decades, the real boom toward the major urban areas began in 1968 with the development of the first modern day version of a professional league. The game received plenty of added exposure from the media, and suddenly it was the great day of discovery…. youngsters began trading in their baseball bats and fishing poles for a lacrosse stick. It was a natural, after the hockey season, and pretty soon, all those outdoor boxes without ice, thundered with the sound of an India rubber ball against the boards. At present, some 200,000 boys are active from ages 5 and up in virtually every Province of the country. The majority of them, 90,000 play in Ontario.
But what lies in the future? NLL coaches say that much of the good talent is in the untapped northeastern United States where the field game is played at almost every educational level. But here is talent that has to be developed. The raw material is there … it’s just a case of refining it. Teaching the box fundamentals. Adapting to the box rules. The key is in developing clinics for players, coaches, trainers and referees. Establishing viable minor leagues in these areas, which eventually can provide the pros of the future. The steps, I am told are in the works. The interest appears to be there, and it’s just a matter of time. Sally Smith … It’s going to be tough to replace Kevin Parsons but we’ve got our eye on you.