By Lachlan Ross (ISN), Photos by Kasey Eriksen (ISN)
September 9, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The University of Victoria’s athletics program is known Canada-wide for basketball, soccer, and rowing, to name a few, but Ian Paone hopes field lacrosse will soon join them.
As chairman of the UVic Field Lacrosse Club, it’s clear Paone is determined to have Canada’s national game known around campus. Since coming to UVic last year, Paone has taken a casual throw around between 10 women and a couple of men, to an organized team with practices, team gear, and league games.
“We have some of the best lacrosse players [in Canada] right here in Victoria,” says Paone. “Let’s try and keep them here.”
While Right now there is a Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association made up of teams from Ontario and Quebec, as well as a Maritime University Field Lacrosse Association, the West Coast is lacking one. Each of the two respective leagues play for their own championship, so Paone says he hopes the addition of a Western Canada league could result in the three conferences linking up for national championships.
“To get the team building, we just need to brand ourselves,” says Paone, who has created a Facebook page that now has over 130 likes. The club page says their mission statement is “To grow our national sport and help create opportunities for university-level lacrosse in western Canada.” With full jerseys and shorts from Nike this year, Paone says he’s confident in the progress of the sport at UVic. “If we can get the student body and the community behind us, then the faculty will jump on board as well.”
As part of the first graduating class of Claremont High School’s lacrosse program, which started in 2004, Paone says he embraces the challenge ahead. “When you’re part of a program that’s just beginning out, you get a real grassroots feel, a real pioneering feel to it, and that’s the feeling I want to take to [UVic’s program].”
Paone is working with players from the Universities of British Columbia, Calgary, and Alberta to create conference play between the schools, with hopes to include the Universities of Saskatchewan and Lethbridge soon.
Having just announced the addition of coach Colin Bell, a former intermediate and junior Victoria Shamrocks player, the UVic men’s team will have the expertise required to increase their skills and team play. “There’s a full range of talent, but there is a lot of talent,” Paone says of his team that practices Monday’s and Wednesday’s from 2:30-4:00pm. The team plays Friday nights 8:00-9:30p.m. and Sunday nights 7:30-9:00p.m. in the Victoria Men’s Field Lacrosse Association on campus turf fields two and three. “If [players] have their own gear, we’d love to have them come out and play,” Paone says about male students and faculty.
One of the club goals for this year is to start a dedicated women’s team, which Paone says he hopes will be entered in the Vancouver Island Women’s League either second semester or next September. Any women interested in attending practices are welcome with or without their own gear.
The UVic men’s team will play tournaments at UBC and the University of Alberta this year, while having practice matches against UBC and Clarement High School on separate occasions. For further interest in playing for or sponsoring the UVic Lacrosse teams, Paone can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.