Every four years, in July, the Senior Men World Lacrosse Championships takes place. This year the tournament is being held in Denver Colorado. With over thirty eight nations competing at this event, the championship has grown to become the largest event to date since the inception of the games in 1967. For this event, Canada was asked to send officials. The Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA) held tryouts for field lacrosse officials in September and October of 2013. From the field, the 18 most qualified officials were selected to represent Canada. From these 18, not only Saskatoon, but Saskatchewan Lacrosse, has been honoured with the selection of three officials. These officials are: Nathan Adams, Ian Wilson and Terry Harding. Nathan and Ian will be on field officials while Terry will be one of the Assessors. Terry is also the Chair of the Rules Committee for the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL). All three officials are from Saskatoon. For a province of just over 1.1 million people, this is a great accomplishment and speaks volume about the quality of officials produced. The only other place in the world for such an accomplishment is Manchester, England which has an approximate population of 10 million people.
Every year in early April, refereeing clinics are held for new and senior officials. These clinics are done by Ian Wilson and Terry Harding, both already having international experience in officiating. Their experience and knowledge from all levels of officiating lacrosse help prepare the new and senior referees for the upcoming season. The clinics are separated into Level 1-2 and 3-5. The Level 1-2 clinic is for new and/or young referees. This gives an opportunity for the senior referees to help with the clinic, alongside Ian and Terry. With the Level 1-2 clinic focusing on basic rules, game management and hands on demonstrations, early mentorship is established to develop the officials to a position ready for the season.
After the officials have been prepared for the season, all junior officials are paired with a senior official on the field to help learn and develop skills that cannot be taught in the classroom setting. With three officials qualified for Worlds, the experience and knowledge a junior official is exposed to gives an opportunity to learn and grow quicker than in other sports, or provinces. This does not only provide a positive experience for the official but as well a positive experience for players, coaches, and parents watching the game.
With this on field mentoring, off field mentoring is important as well. As young officials develop their skill level and confidence, they start taking steps towards becoming a higher level official. As they strive for the next steps, off the field, they will be watched, analyzed, and assessed to help develop their skill level. This does not only happen for the young officials but the senior officials as well. Development is both a on and off field ongoing process. Officials always have areas of improvements and learning to grow.
Coming from a province where lacrosse is still growing and the officials experience is vast, the opportunity for growth and travel is opened for all officials. Officials are given the ability to travel across Canada for national competitions, provincials and tournaments in other provinces, local tournaments and Worlds. At these events, you meet new officials, get assessed at a higher level, and learn from people with different points of view.
In closing, the opportunity for Field Officials in Saskatchewan is incomparable. This is seen through three officials being sent to worlds, mentoring opportunities, the growth of the game, support from the SLA, and the commitment of the officials to the game of lacrosse. With years to come, new officials will be given the same opportunities to develop as individuals and develop Saskatchewan Lacrosse.
Biography of the Three Field Officials:
Nathan Adams: I have been fortunate in having a successful lacrosse career as both an official and a player of the game. In 2007, after playing for six years, my focus shifted to officiating. The officiating mentorship in Saskatchewan provided me the opportunity and growth for advancement in the community and success in the sport. With many local tournaments and four provincial championships under my belt, I refereed at my first national championships in 2010 with support from the SLA. This was the beginning of four successful national level tournaments, as well as multiple tournaments in Alberta.
Besides my dedication to the game of lacrosse, I play soccer and rugby, as well as being certified to referee rugby. This will be my first World Championships, and I am thankful and looking forward to the opportunity provided by the CLA, as a representative of Canadian officials.
Terry Harding: I have a long history in lacrosse but never did I imagine it would be as successful as it has been. I started playing box at a young age in Ontario and went on to play Jr. and Sr. there. I played 2 seasons of field for the Toronto Lacrosse Club. After the usual distractions of life, like career and family I returned to lacrosse in 1997 as a coach and referee. My initial success in Saskatchewan was as a coach. As coach of the senior men’s provincial team we won silver in 1997 followed by 5 gold medals at the national championships. During that period Team Sask. lost only one game at national championships. I have been fortunate to referee at many provincial and national championships, including 2 national championships where I was RIC. Internationally I have been to tournaments in Amsterdam and Turkey. Denver will be my 6th World Championship.
I have had the great fortune to have many mentors in my officiating career; all of them highly respected international officials; Ian Wilson, Saskatoon; Jim Price, Ontario; Don Blacklock, England; and the late Graham Lester, England; and too many more to name. I am forever grateful for the guidance and mentoring of Graham Lester. I was fortunate to take over his job as Chair Men’s Rules for the FIL when he retired form that position. Many people ask why do I do this as a volunteer. The answer is simple. I stay involved in the greatest game, I get to work with some great people, and together we make a difference and we have a lot of fun at the same time. Denver will be a huge challenge but it will also be a ton of fun. Thank you to the Saskatchewan lacrosse community for your continued support of me and all our officials.
Ian Wilson: I have been fortunate to have a long and positive involvement with the sport of lacrosse since I began playing in 1987. I took up the sport in university and played for 10 years on the senior men’s provincial team, culminating my playing career with a National Championship win in 1998. I had taken up reffing a few years before and decided that it was the time to concentrate on a way of staying involved in the sport without getting hit so often. I have been fortunate to have fantastic mentors in the lacrosse refereeing community and worked hard to become a consistent member of our officiating crews at Provincial and National Championships. I was also fortunate to serve several years on the National Officiating Certification Program. I have been to two Men’s World Championships as a referee; in 2006 in London Ontario and in 2010 in Manchester England. I am very excited to be heading to Denver for my third World Championships.