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Orillia woman to be inducted into Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame

Joanne Stanga, who was inducted into Orillia's Sports Hall of Fame in May, will be inducted in the builder's category of national lacrosse shrine
joanne stanga lax hall of fame screengrab
Joanne Stanga, who was inducted into the Orillia Sports Hall of Fame in May, will enter the national lacrosse hall of fame in November.

A local lacrosse pioneer — who became a member of Orillia’s Sports Hall of Fame earlier this year — will be inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in November.

Joanne Stanga, who has been instrumental in building women’s field lacrosse in Ontario, across Canada and internationally, will be inducted into the national shrine as a builder, it was announced today.

The 2022 class of 10 inductees includes six players and three builders — including Stanga.

In an interview with OrilliaMatters prior to being inducted into Orillia’s Sports Hall of Fame, Stanga reflected on her youth in the Sunshine City, where there were no opportunities for girls to play lacrosse

While her brothers played box lacrosse at the old Community Centre, girls were not welcome nor encouraged to play.

Despite that, young Joanne often had a lacrosse stick in her hand, contributed many dents to the family’s garage door and regularly accompanied her siblings to games near and far.

She recalls being “super excited” when she finally got to play — at 17 — after a group of outstanding local male coaches got together and created a local girls team that would play in the fledgling Golden Horseshoe League for several seasons. 

Sparked by that experience and fuelled by her love of the game, she always sought opportunities to play and became a star player that competed for both Ontario and Canada in local, national and international competition.

She went on to become a top-level coach, guiding teams to provincial, national and international titles with an Orillia squad in addition to Team Ontario (1999-2000) and Team Canada (1994-2003)

She may have made her biggest mark off the field, working tirelessly to build the game at a provincial level with the Ontario Women’s Field Lacrosse League as its Commissioner 1988-2005, nationally as the Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA) Women’s Field Sector Chair from 1988-1992 and the CLA National Team Director 2005-2013. She was also a member of the Federation of International Lacrosse Competition Committee 2009-2017.

Stanga is a Lifetime Member of Orillia Minor Lacrosse, won the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award in 2012, was awarded the Canadian Lacrosse Association’s Lester B. Pearson award in 2002 and the OLA Tip Teather Award in 1998.

She was inducted into the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2020

Earlier this year, she said being inducted into the Orillia Sports Hall of Fame is “above” her induction into the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame, such is her deep connection to the Sunshine City.

“Orillia is a very special place to me. I only lived there from when I was six until I was 19, but I always felt a connection to the city, so being recognized is really special and so unexpected.”

Joining Stanga in Canada’s Lacrosse Hall of Fame are players Rich Catton, Blane Harrison, Trish Nicholson, Josh Sanderson, Troyhann Santos and Kaleb Toth; alongside two other builders Rey Comeault and Doug Luey.

These new inductees bring the total number honoured in lacrosse's national shrine to  560  –  165 builders, 339 players and 56 veterans (those who played in 1985 or before) and one in the Official Category (prior to this year officials were inducted in the builder cCategory). There are also 24 teams inducted under the team category.

The formal induction banquet and ceremonies are scheduled for November.