“It’s our game; let’s grow it the Canadian way”

Sports Sports | Lifestyle

UVic’s lacrosse club has made some considerable strides in the last two years. The program has blossomed from a few players tossing the ball around every week to a full-force competitive squad. There are even rumblings of starting a competitive women’s team this year.

Much of this growth can be attributed to Ian Paone. The third-year psychology major has been playing lacrosse for over 15 years and has worked hard over the last two years to bring competitive lacrosse to campus. The Victoria-born Claremont High School grad is now the president of the UVic lacrosse club and a leader on the field.

With little university competition to speak of out West, the UVic lacrosse squad plays a few games with UBC every year and competes in the Victoria U-19 men’s league. This year looks different, as they look to branch out and play more competitive games.

“We are in the Victoria men’s league and have two tournaments planned this year,” Paone says. “We are heading to Edmonton at the end of October and have a tournament at UBC in February.”

Canadian University lacrosse is big out East but doesn’t have a Western league to match. With Lacrosse being Canada’s national sport, Paone feels the game should get more attention out west.

Paone says, “There is such a hotbed for lacrosse here in Victoria, I don’t understand why we don’t have it as a varsity program. It’s varsity back East and in the Maritimes, why isn’t it here.”

Paone wants to start small but eventually build up to varsity status. The first step is to get a Western league going with universities such as UBC and the University of Alberta. Paone even wants to branch out to Lethbridge, Vancouver Island University and Camosun College. With that accomplished, they can start approaching the CIS and the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association.

To become a varsity program at a major Canadian university, you need more than just a competitive team playing in a competitive league. Revenue needs to roll in. The sport needs to benefit the university too.

Paone suggests that UVic lacrosse has the potential to be a huge draw in Victoria and could sustain a varsity program in the future.

“We want to brand ourselves on campus. We want to let the student body know that we are here and we are competitive,” Paone says. “We want students to come out and watch us. With their support, we can approach the school.”

Co-chair and third-year Geology major Aaron Fenney echoes Paone’s optimism. The 21-year-old from Vancouver has played for 12 years and has high hopes for the team.

“I want to get more membership and a more focused feeling to the team,” Fenney says. “I want it to be a team feeling and less of a club feeling.”

Fenney has lacrosse in his blood. His dad and grandfather both played before him, and he has followed suit. When Fenney arrived at UVic, there was hardly any lacrosse program. Together with Paone, he has created a competitive team with a bright future. As a player with three more years at UVic, Fenney sets a lofty goal for the UVic lacrosse club: “I would like us to be a varsity sport by the time I leave. I have three years left year for school, and I would like to set that as a goal.”