The Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA) is proud to announce that Joey Harris, who has served as the association’s president since 2003, was selected as a recipient of the Lester B. Pearson Award, one of the highest honours in the Canadian lacrosse community. The award was presented two weeks ago in Banff, Alberta, where lacrosse administrators from every province were gathered for the CLA’s semi-annual meetings.
The Lester B. Pearson Award, which has been handed out 21 times since its creation in 1973, is presented by the CLA to an individual in recognition of their unselfish dedication and outstanding contributions of sportsmanship and distinguished leadership to the game of lacrosse and to the physical and mental development of young Canadians.
No one can argue that Harris meets that criteria.
For nearly 30 years of his life, the native of Winnipeg, Man., has been volunteering his time as a lacrosse administrator at both the provincial and national levels. From 1990 to 2002, he was president of the Manitoba Lacrosse Association, where he helped grow the sport in the provincial while also representing their views as a member of the CLA’s executive committee.
He made the move to the CLA’s board of directors in 2002, holding the position of vice-president of finance and administration for a two-year term before being voted in as president in 2003, a position he still holds today. He has also served as a board member of the Canadian Lacrosse Foundation since 2003.
“No one starts playing a sport with the intention of winning awards later in life,” stated a humble Harris. “We play a sport because we love it, and from the moment I picked up that lacrosse stick in Winnipeg years ago, I knew that this sport was for me.”
Throughout his tenure as CLA president, Harris has guided the organization through governance changes and multiple strategic planning periods, overseen the establishment of the national team program, the implementation of the Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model, the adoption of anti-doping education and testing procedures, and the expansion of lacrosse to all provinces and territories in Canada.
The sport of lacrosse has also taken him around the world as a representative of the CLA at international meetings and events in held in Hungary, Finland, Czech Republic, and the United States.
“I have benefited so much from lacrosse,” said Harris. “Throughout the years, I’ve made some great friends, traveled all over Canada and the world, and grew on both a personal and professional level. I don’t ever think I can ever repay what was given to me by the Creator’s game.”
This is not the first time that Harris’ contributions to the sport have been recognized: he was inducted as a Builder/Player into the Manitoba Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2016 and was also one of 55 members of the Canadian lacrosse community to receive a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal back in 2012.
In winning the Lester B. Pearson Award, Harris joins a group of distinguished winners, including legendary coach Jim Bishop (1977), women’s lacrosse pioneer Joanne Stanga (2002), longtime referee John Herd (2010) and national team volunteer Terry Lloyd (2015). Ten previous Lester B. Pearson Award winners have also been enshrined in the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
“When I look at all the past winners and their contributions to the game, I am both honoured and humbled to be recognized, by one’s peers, as being part of this prestigious group,” added Harris.
Nominations for this prestigious award are brought forth each year by members of the lacrosse community. The nomination of Harris was submitted by Paul Magnan, current president of the Manitoba Lacrosse Association and fellow member of the CLA’s board of directors.
“Joey has dedicated a good part of his life to promoting the game of lacrosse across Canada,” stated Magnan, “and we at the CLA have been fortunate to have his leadership.”