(Jade Lenton/Special to THE NEWS)                                 Chris Gill at the outdoor box at MRSS.

(Jade Lenton/Special to THE NEWS) Chris Gill at the outdoor box at MRSS.

Lacrosse is all about one thing for hall-of-famer Gill

Chris Gill followed his heart and gave it to the game of lacrosse

Some four-year-old boys spend their time building block towers, playing with toy cars, and pretending to be butt-kicking ninjas. But not Chris Gill. He didn’t immerse himself in such thoughts, but instead began to tread the path that led him to become a lacrosse legend, both on the court and behind the bench.

Having lived across the street from a lacrosse box in his youth, Gill had easy access to all the practice he wanted. His daily routine was coming from school, to the box, to dinner, back to the box, and finally up to bed. With a stick in his hand, and lacrosse in his heart, he followed his dreams and surpassed them.

During his youth, Gill played for the Coquitlam Adanacs. He competed for the Minto Cup national championship, but lost in Game 7 to Six Nations in overtime.

Once a senior, he was drafted to the Ridge Meadows Burrards in the WLA as the top pick, and played there for nearly eight years.

After his time as a Burrard, he became a Salmonbellie in New Westminister for six seasons, during which his team challenged for the Mann Cup two consecutive years in a row.

Gill ended his WLA career with 833 points in 282 games, averaging 1.7 goals a match.

He was also drafted to the Toronto Rock as the first pick, and won two NLL championships, before he was traded to the Vancouver Ravens. That team folded within a couple years, and he moved on to Calgary, where he played eight games before settling in Colorado. He finished his career as a Mammoth, winning one more NLL Cup in the process.

In pro, Gill had played 186 games, scored 589 points, and scored 1.9 goals a game.

When asked about why he stopped playing, Gill explains how he had been in his late 30s, and had just gotten “too old, and too slow.”

However, Gill’s love for the sport never faded, and never will.

“The great thing about lacrosse is that it contains a little bit of everything,” he said.

It has the speed of hockey, the strategy of soccer, and the brutal thrill of football.

“It’s the excitement, and the contact that keeps people coming back for more.”

After over three decades of playing, Gill represented Canada in the 1991 Junior World Championships for field lacrosse, and again in 1998 and 2002 for the seniors.

Two years ago he was selected into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame, the fourth in his family.

His great-grandfather was inducted as a builder, as was his father Sohen. Gill went into the hall as a player, like his grandfather.

Though Gill came from a long line of lacrosse enthusiasts, he knew how important it was for kids to choose their sport themselves. His daughters did gymnastics, and softball before they both decided that lacrosse was what they loved.

Years later, Gill is coaching both his kids’ teams, as well as the Mammoth, the last NLL team he played for.

In the last five years, Gill’s girls, who play for the Ridge Meadows Minor Lacrosse Association, have won three gold and two silver medals at provincials, as well as another gold and silver at nationals.

Gill said his biggest achievement has been “Watching the teams that I coach achieve their goals.”

When questioned about the difficulties of coaching such polar opposite teams, he said: “The girl’s skill levels are unbalanced, while the men are all in roughly the same place.”

“There’s a lot less chatter with the men,” he added.

Lacrosse is a tough sport, but is also very rewarding if you come to love it as much as Gill does. He looked after his team when he played, and nothing has changed since he began to coach.

– Jade Lenton is in Grade 9 at Maple Ridge secondary and wrote this article as part of a work experience program.