NANAIMO — Canada's official summer sport is at the height of it's season as the country turns 150.
Nanaimo is hosting the Western Canadian Masters Lacrosse Championships over the long weekend, the WLA Timbermen are playing in Victoria, local junior and intermediate teams are traveling off the island, and minor players are involved in various tournaments.
In the harbour city the most recognizable teams are the Senior A and Senior B Timbermen, but there are hundreds of young people playing the game through junior, intermediate, school programs and minor lacrosse.
Minor lacrosse registration was over 400 for this season.
The sport of stickball or lacrosse has been around in some form or another since the 1600's.
Box lacrosse formed later and Nanaimo city councillor, lacrosse player, and coach Jim Kipp says it's unique to Canada.
"It's a phenonemal sport to be involved in," said Kipp. "Lacrosse is a game that has a cultural bloodline in it. Personally I've been able to go and travel across the country because of lacrosse and play in national championships and tournaments. I've taken hundreds and hundreds of Nanaimo players across the pond so many times - and that bonds people."
In 2016 the entire lacrosse community celebrated the 60th anniversary of Nanaimo's 1956 Mann Cup national Senior A championship.
Kipp says it was emotional to see so many people from that victory gathered on the floor at Frank Crane Arena last year.
"From 1956 and to still celebrate with hundreds of people and families on the floor sharing in that victory was fantastic," said Kipp.
Other milestones include Nanaimo Senior B teams winning President's Cup championships in 1966 and 1969 as the Nanaimo Luckies.
Those teams played out of the Civic Arena and Kipp has a piece of the building in his home.
"I've got my own personal penalty box," said Kipp. "One side of it is dedicated to lacrosse and I've got a door from the old Civic Arena."
Next August the Timbermen will host the President's Cup, bringing an opportunity for Nanaimo's first Senior lacrosse title in over 50 years.
This weekend's Masters tournament at the Nanaimo Ice Centre will feature a local over 45 Timbermen team and the Nanaimo Native Sons.
As the players competing in Canada's national summer game look towards the arena wall they'll see a reminder of how important lacrosse is to this community - the large picture of the 1956 Mann Cup team.
On twitter: @danmarshall77
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