Lacrosse community shows its true strength

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Lacrosse is more than a sport, it’s a family.

Last Sunday, the lacrosse community came out in unfamiliarly large numbers to support a fundraiser for the Women’s Senior New West Salmonbellies’ Emily Goss, who remains in a coma from a head injury after being hit but an alleged drunk driver in London, England. This is the second time this year - not to mention countless times in the past - that droves of players, coaches, and fans of lacrosse’s intimate fraternity have come to the aid of one of their own.

During Emily’s fundraiser, hearts were heavy, but the desire to play the game Emily loves overcame the grief felt by her coaches and teammates. That sense of resiliency had been seen just a few months prior when early in 2019, it was made public that Michelle Fines, the wife of the Vancouver Warriors Goaltender Aaron Bold, was once again battling breast cancer. Michelle has gone in and out of remission since she was first diagnosed in 2010, and the lacrosse world has been there to support them every step of the way.

Members of the National Lacrosse League and beyond didn’t hesitate to do their part when they heard what Michelle was enduring. Donations, prayers, and well-wishes poured in when the latest tragic news was revealed back in February. Much was the same when the news about Emily broke. 

For the lacrosse community, there was first a sense of shock and sadness that hit when you heard the terrible news. But then, a feeling of empathy and urgency kicked in. And it did so with people who had never even met these two women because they were connected by the power of the game.

Although the games that were played in honour of these women were not done with the intent to heal them - as they were originally designed to do when The Creator gave the game to the First Nations Peoples - there was a momentary sense of calm for Bold and Emily’s teammates when the ball was flying and the sticks were clanking.

Bold had once stated, “Every time I meet with the guys on the team, I feel a bit of the burden lifted when I’m in my element and having fun with the guys.”

But what makes this game and this character that it evokes from all parties so different than any other sport? This is a game that collectively shared by families, neighbours, and towns.

Men and women in communities from places such as Coquitlam, B.C. to Peterborough, Ont. have countless stories of gathering in the backyard with generations of talented lacrosse players to get a game going. Lacrosse has never been a sport played by few; it’s a game that has been shared by large groups of aspiring young athletes to Hall-of-Famers.

The passion is so deep for those that play the sport that even many of today’s professional players still have employment in other gigs during the week to supplement their income, regardless of the physical wear and tear that might occur in battle. Many of them and other hopeful professionals grind out a gruelling summer lacrosse schedule when they’re not on the clock at their primary job.

Beyond that, players and coaches regularly make time for their fans. Not just signing autographs and taking a picture. These exhausted athletes go out of their way to build relationships with the people that come out to support them.

There is no sporting community that matches that kind of devotion, drive, and desire. It’s what keeps the fans coming back for more.

The passion exuded by the fans is felt by the players, especially during the heartbreaking times that Emily and Michelle are going through.

“Emily would definitely be proud of the turnout,” said Savanna Smith, Emily’s coach and organizer of the fundraiser. “More importantly, we’re grateful for the support from the fans, the support from the people who volunteered to help with the fundraiser, the support from the Port Moody Grizzles, who we played against and the support from the lacrosse community. I think she’ll be overwhelmed when she wakes up and finds out how big of an event this was and how much love and support there is for her and her family.”

“Michelle and I are very grateful for the lacrosse community, NLL Players, and the Vancouver Warriors for contributing not only to help the financial burden of extended medical needs, but also the family support we need,” said Bold.

As lacrosse continues to grow throughout North America and the rest of the world and more money flows into the sport, it should never be forgotten what this community has done for each other. Continue to love and support the game. The values tied to lacrosse are what makes this game great. They are what bond us.

Donation Links:

Fund 4 Fines (Michelle Fines GoFundMe)

Emily Goss GoFundMe

Adam Levi