A Halifax professional lacrosse player is hoping the sport will grow in Nova Scotia following the announcement last month that it would be added to the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
Halifax Thunderbirds forward Clark Peterson said this historic moment could build a greater foundation for the sport in Atlantic Canada.
“I think once it was announced, it became a goal for every lacrosse player. Like OK, boom, I want to play in the Olympics,” Peterson said.
Peterson, 26, who is originally from Ontario, was drafted by the Thunderbirds in 2020 and represented Canada last summer at the world championships in San Diego. Now he’s thinking about 2028.
“I was talking to my mum and joking, ‘Am I still going to be playing at my best?’ And he said, ‘Is it realistic? who knows? Why not set that goal and do what you can to achieve it.”
Additional sports added by the IOC to the 2028 Games are baseball, cricket, soccer and squash.
History of this sport
Lacrosse was first played at the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis, then in London in 1908, and became an exhibition sport in Amsterdam in 1928, Los Angeles in 1932, and in London in 1948.
The sport dates back centuries and was originally played by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an indigenous group in New York State and Canada that includes the Mohawk, Seneca, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga, and Tuscarora.
While the Haudenosaunee have sent teams to the World Championships, they are not recognized by the International Olympic Committee. International Olympic Committee He told the New York Times that only National Olympic Committees recognized by the organization can enter teams into the Games.
Cody Jamison, 36, captain of the Thunderbirds and Mohawks of Six Nations Ontario, hopes that changes.
“Work is still ongoing there, and we are still trying to be accepted by the International Olympic Committee,” he said. “I’m optimistic there’s a way to include them.”
In order to be recognized as an Olympic sport, a new system called “sixes” was adopted to use fewer players in the men’s and women’s categories, Jamieson said.
The format blends the concepts of six-man lacrosse, which is closer to hockey, and 10-man lacrosse, which has similarities to soccer.
“It was always frustrating when you saw other sports in the Olympics and lacrosse wasn’t,” Jamison said. “I believe lacrosse is on par with all other Olympic sports in terms of creativity and competitiveness.”
Donna Goguen, executive director of Lacrosse Nova Scotia, a regional non-profit sports organization, said the new sixes format represents a great opportunity to introduce people to the sport.
“When you’re a small sport in a small county, getting your game known can sometimes be a challenge,” Goguen said.
She compares sixes to rugby, which became an Olympic sport in 2016 in Rio. While rugby is traditionally played with 15 players, the fast-paced rugby sevens, which involves fewer players, has been adopted for the Olympic Games.
She believes the news will encourage youth and parents to look into lacrosse and enjoy the game.
“The passion for lacrosse is something I find very different from other sports,” she said. “We’re going to be dealing with a lot of growth in the next five years.”