Gary Gait is sticking with the women’s Canada Lacrosse program.
The former Saanich resident and Victoria Shamrock served the last four years as the director of women’s field lacrosse and while his role will remain the same, his title will changed to general manager of the Canadian women’s national team program.
Gait will be responsible for overseeing both the senior and U19 teams for the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) 2019 Women’s U19 World Championships and 2021 FIL Women’s Lacrosse World Cup.
Four years ago Dave Huntley, national men’s senior director and Dean French, national team chairman convinced Gait to work with the women’s national team. At the time, Gait was volunteering for the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association in the U.S. and thought it was a good idea to give back to the game in his home country and wants to continue his contributions in his new role.
“It’s an opportunity to develop an elite level across Canada, and do the same thing when they get to the senior level,” Gait said. “The women’s side has grown dramatically in Canada, especially in box,” noting that Canada wasn’t a medal contender at world championships and is now biting at the heels of the U.S.
Gait coached Canada to its first international gold medal in women’s field lacrosse at the 2015 FIL U19 Women’s Lacrosse World Championship.
He is involved with the National Lacrosse Team Players’ Association (NLTPA) as the lead negotiator, trying to negotiate a four-year agreement with the Canadian Lacrosse Association for organization, structure and funding for the men’s and women’s national teams.
NLTPA is trying to get away from the pay to play structure and generate extra revenue to provide more support to help grow the sport in Canada.
Gait said the model has come a long way. Previously U19 players each had to raise $3,500 to play, but they have been able to get that down to $500.
Throughout his coaching career he spent time coaching in the Major Lacrosse League and National Lacrosse League (NLL) before coaching in college and eventually returning to his alma mater, Syracuse University in 2007, as head coach of the women’s field lacrosse team. He coached his daughter, Taylor, who just finished her senior season of lacrosse for the Orange (and is an active member of the Canadian women’s national team.) He has an overall record of 150-48 at Syracuse and has taken the Orange to two appearances in the NCAA national championship game.
Gait has a total of 10 NCAA national titles, winning seven of those as an assistant coach for the University of Maryland’s women’s lacrosse team.
A formidable player, he played college lacrosse at Syracuse with his twin brother Paul, and led the Orange to three NCAA championships, earning first-team All-America honours three times and was Player of the Year twice.
He played 17 years in the NLL and was selected the league’s MVP a record six times and was inducted into the NLL’s Hall of Fame and both the Canadian and U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
Gait helped the Shamrocks to two Mann Cups (‘97 and ‘99) and one with the Brooklin Redmen in ‘90.
A current resident of Syracuse, Gait still makes a trip home to Victoria every August for two weeks and of course, he enjoys taking in some Shamrocks lacrosse. He has coached Shamrocks’ Jesse King and Rhys Duch, and said they made a good run this season.