Legends Of The Game

In this very special One Hundredth edition of “Legends of the Game” , we are going to look at the life and career of a pioneer in the ladies game of field and box lacrosse…

Michelle Bowyer

When researching Michelle’s career I came across one of the best written articles on her.  Rad Joseph, a member of the Major Series Lacrosse Media Team, wrote this on November 30, 2021…

Here is the article in it’s entirety:

A native of Port Coquitlam Michelle Bowyer excelled in both box and field lacrosse. A multi-sport athlete, Michelle Bowyer played baseball, basketball, field hockey and ice hockey in addition to playing lacrosse. Her induction into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame is noteworthy as Michelle is only the third female to be inducted as a player.

When asked her reaction upon hearing she was being inducted into the CLHOF, Michelle responded,

 “It’s hard to describe my initial reaction. Given only two other women have been inducted into the Hall, my initial thoughts ran the gamut from surprise to elation to, “why me?” I have had the privilege of competing with and against so many tremendous women athletes in both box and field lacrosse over the years and so many of them are equally deserving of this honour. After an initial flurry of emotions, my thoughts ran to all the years of training and competing, the wonderful experiences I have had traveling with the Kirby Klippettes, the BC Selects and Team Canada; the lifelong friendships I have made along the way, and just how much joy I have derived from playing lacrosse. To receive this honour is really the icing on the cake and I look forward to seeing many more women inductees follow me into the HOF.”

At the age of fifteen, Michelle began playing box lacrosse on the first female box lacrosse team in Port Coquitlam in1972. For the years 1976 to 1981, Michelle was a member of the Burnaby Kirby’s Klippettes, playing for a hugely successful team that won league, provincial and Canadian championships. (Note: Dave Evans coached this team – himself inducted into the CLHOF in 1995).

In recalling personal career highlights, Michelle commented,

I have so many incredible memories going back to the first time I picked up a box lacrosse stick as a young teen. I was captivated by the sport right from the start and used to spend hours practicing in an outdoor box just down the road from my house in Port Coquitlam. I loved the intensity and physicality of the box game and recall feeling like a warrior going into battle every time I suited up to play.”

Michelle shared specific memories of the Klippettes –

My most memorable moments in box lacrosse were when I played in Burnaby for the Kirby Klippettes. We were coached by Dave Evans who inspired all of us to train as hard as we played. He used to end practices by having us run up and down a steep trail into a ravine behind the lacrosse box. If we dogged it, we just ran more laps! When we all transitioned into field lacrosse, Coach Evans realized we needed to play top level competition to get better – so, began the infamous road trips to California, Colorado, and the East coast of the USA to play in tournaments like the Western States, the Coors Light Invitational, and the prestigious William and Mary Tournament. Those road trips were some of the craziest, most taxing, yet exciting and wonderful experiences we had as a team.

In 1980, Michelle began playing field lacrosse. Over the duration of her prolific career, between 1983 and 1992, Michelle Bowyer captained the BC Selects women’s field lacrosse championship teams. Note: this team was inducted into the CLHOF in 2014.

Considered as possibly the absolute best female field lacrosse midfielder to ever wear the Canadian uniform, Michelle Bowyer has represented our country at the World Championships three times including winning the bronze medal in 1982. Team Canada placed fourth in 1986 and 1989. Bowyer recalled representing Canada, commenting

Playing for Canada in three World Championships was an unforgettable experience and an incredible honour. Our first world tournament in England in 1982 stands out the most in my mind as we were complete ‘unknowns’ on the international stage. We surprised everyone, including ourselves, when we placed third in the World! The whole experience of endless hours of training, exhibition games and tournaments to get ready, struggling to raise money to get there, training in downtown London the week before the Worlds and then finally getting to Nottingham and being scared to death as we really had no idea what to expect. The entire experience was something I’ll never forget.”

When contemplating those who impacted the development of her career, Michelle Bowyer graciously stated,

I was very fortunate to have played with so many incredible teammates throughout my career. We all pushed each other to be the best we could be and supported each other both on and off the field. I give a lot of credit for my success to them for making me a better athlete but also for being such great friends and teammates on that journey. I was also very lucky to have had several great coaches along the way who inspired and challenged me to continue to improve as an athlete and player. Dave Evans taught me so much about both box and field lacrosse and how to train to be an elite level athlete. My ’82 World Cup coach, Courtney Solenberger, was an inspiration to all of us. She taught me and my teammates to believe in ourselves and our abilities and truly pushed me to the next level as an athlete. Lastly, the late Libby Williams who coached Team Canada in the ’86 World Cup in Philadelphia. She was hardnosed and tough, but she was very detail oriented, and I played some of my best lacrosse under her.”

Unfortunately, in 1990, a fractured vertebrae (playing ball hockey) ended Michelle’s career as a lacrosse player.  However, she started coaching at both the provincial and national levels.

In 2009, the International Federation of Women’s Lacrosse acknowledged Michelle Bowyer for her outstanding participation and achievement in World Cup competition for her contribution as a player, head coach, assistant coach for numerous Canadian Women’s Field Lacrosse teams.

In 2020, World Lacrosse announced the creation of the Women’s Indoor Box Lacrosse Group. This group will develop policy to enhance women’s indoor/box lacrosse around the world. Michelle Bowyer serves as the Chair of this group. (World Lacrosse is the international federation for men’s and women’s lacrosse, responsible for providing effective leadership and governance of the sport internationally while supporting the continued growth of lacrosse worldwide)

In assessing the remarkable career of the prolific Michelle Bowyer, undoubtedly, her career and induction into the CLHOF will serve to inspire current and future generations of female lacrosse players. Michelle is a shining example of what can be achieved both as an individual and a member of a team. Michelle Bowyer is inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in the player category as a member of the class of 2020.

– A very special thank you to Rad Joseph for allowing me to re-print his article in today’s edition of “Legends of the Game”.

From World Lacrosse:

Michelle Bowyer isone of the most accomplished players in the history of Canadian Lacrosse. Beginning her playing career in box lacrosse, Bowyer won League, Provincial and Canadian National Championships while playing for Burnaby’s Kirby’s Klipettes from 1976-81. In 1981, Bowyer made the transition to field lacrosse and one year later was invited to compete for Team Canada in the first Women’s Field Lacrosse World Championship in Nottingham, England. She served as captain for Team Canada in three World Championships (1982, 1986 and 1989) before beginning a career in coaching. She was assistant coach for Team Canada at the World Championship in 1993 before being named head coach for the 1997 World Championship. Bowyer was recently inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Association Hall of Fame.

“For all the growth our game has experienced this past decade, we know that much more can be done — and should be done — to encourage greater diversity and opportunity for participation in lacrosse,” said President Redfern. “These two Commissions and the Working Group are critical elements in our strategy to make certain the pathway of
opportunity is as open and accessible as possible.”

Highlights of Michelle’s Career:

• Part of first Port Coquitlam girls lacrosse team in the 1970’s

• Captained 11 consecutive BC Selects women’s field lacrosse championship teams

• Captained Team Canada field lacrosse to bronze at the World Championships in England in 1982

• Finished 4th in 1986 and 1989 at the field World Championships in Philadelphia & Perth, Australia

• Placed 5th in 1997 World Cup in Japan

• 2009 was recognized by the International Federation of Women’s Lacrosse for her outstanding participation and achievement in World Cup competition as a player, assistant coach and head coach for Team Canada Women’s Lacrosse.

• Class of 2020 Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame

• Class of 2021 Port Coquitlam Sport Hall of Fame

My co-host of “NLL Lacrosse Talk”, Frank Stanisci and myself, had the pleasure of sitting down with Michelle for a candid interview March 10th, 2022.

Here is that interview in it’s entirety:

Gary Groob
Gary Groob

Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.

An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.

Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.

In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.

Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).

Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.

Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.