What's your story

'I still love the game:' my long career with Canada's national summer sport

When Sue McDowell moved to Canada from England in the 1950s, she wasn't sure if she'd be good enough to play lacrosse in the sport's home country.
Sue McDowell moved to Canada at age 17, armed and ready to play lacrosse. (Sue McDowell)

When Sue McDowell moved to Canada from England in the 1950s, she wasn't sure if she'd be good enough to play lacrosse in the sport's home country. Throughout 2017, we're asking Canadians, "What's your story?" McDowell, of Sooke, B.C., shares hers.


Coming to Canada from England when I was 17 was quite an adventure.

McDowell as coach (first on the left, back row) in the 1980s. (Sue McDowell)

Arriving in August, 1951, I had passed "muster" with the Canadian Pacific Railway, which handled all those going into farming in Canada. The CPR administered my immigration papers as I was heading to Macdonald College, McGill, to study agriculture.

Imagine my dismay on entering college in the fall when my roommates asked, "What's that?" as I unpacked my wooden lacrosse stick. Having been asked to join the Welsh Women's Team in the spring, it was with trepidation whether I'd be good enough to play in Canada, home of lacrosse!

In the spring of 1952, I was invited to go to the States to play. Lacrosse was very much in its infancy then. I helped with some coaching at the USA National Tournament in Boston (I think we coached them too well, as they have been winning the world cup ever since!) and I mustered a team from BSS School in Toronto. [I've] coached, played and umpired.

'A wonderful game to play — outdoors, fresh air, on land, on two feet." McDowell, now 82, played her last lacrosse game in 1996. (Sue McDowell)

From my early days the game is changing — getting a bit more rigid like the men's game and not as free-flowing. However, it's still  a wonderful game to play — outdoors, fresh air, on land, on two feet, no body contact.

Lacrosse has kept me fit — played my last game in 1996. I hear there is a lady still coaching in the States aged 92. I still love the game, but at 82, I feel it's time for the young to enjoy the game and do well in the up-coming World Cup in England. Go Canada Go!

What's your story? What defines Canada for you? Is there a time that you were proud to be Canadian, or perhaps a time you felt disappointed? Is there a place, person, or event in your life that sums up what being Canadian is to you? Tell us at cbc.ca/ whatsyourstory .

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