Last week, lacrosse professional Naomi Walser visited both Elkford and Sparwood, sharing her technique and stories with students there. The Elk Valley stops were part of a larger tour across the province.
“BC Lacrosse Association has a grant right now to develop girls’ lacrosse across the province. Me being a female coach, I was asked to take on the division, which included travelling to four zones. and Cranbrook and the Elk Valley was one of them,” said Walser. “I will also be travelling to Prince George and the Okanagan as well to develop girls lacrosse there and Vancouver Island, trying to hit different regions. This has been the first trip and it was extremely successful.”
Walser visited Elkford on Wednesday night, hosting a clinic for about 25 kids. She stopped at Sparwood Secondary School on Thursday morning and gave a tutorial to roughly 50 students. Overall, she said the experience was very positive.
“Every single student at that high school this morning was right into it. Every single one was able to do all of the skills and they could start up their own team after one day of doing it. It was really good.“
Lacrosse has always had a huge influence on Walser’s life, and she started playing with her two older brothers when she was just four years old. At 16, she was asked to play for Team Canada’s female squad and played in two World Cups. She played in an additional two World Cups on an all First Nations team.
“Lacrosse is the only sport in the world that has acknowledged First Nations as being the creators of the game. So they are the only sport that have an all native national team that are able to compete at the World Cup,” she said.
The First Nations influence is something she likes to inform people of right from the start, as it is often overlooked.
“Lacrosse is our national summer sport in Canada, and not a lot of people know that. Not a lot of people know a lot about lacrosse in general so I like to do a bit of a history component at the beginning with storytelling, sharing, where the game originated and why it’s our national sport, the connection to hockey,” she said. “I find the more that we put into our storytelling, usually trying to make it with some funny stories and build that energy in the room. Taking 10 or 15 minutes at the beginning to get them excited and interested in it, I find gets more participation when it comes to that skill session later on.”
According to Walser, lacrosse can provide great opportunities for students, especially for girls.
“In the Elk Valley, they have 10 girls playing on half of their teams. If they can get all girls teams here, it’s a huge scholarship opportunity for girls. There are a number of opportunities down in the States, and the girls really have a lot of success with it.”