Down Memory Lane - Ron Crosato

Down Memory Lane Articles - by Stan Shillington

What's a nice, peace-loving guy like Ron Crosato refereeing in the often turbulent world of lacrosse? It's really a classic case of coming for a visit and staying a lifetime.

Ronald Anthony Crosato, Vancouver-born on March 28, 1948 was raised in a baseball-crammed home in the Little Mountain neighborhood and never even saw a lacrosse game until he was in him mid-20's.

Then, it was total immersion into his newfound love.

"You have to be really dedicated to the game to head into a stuffy, hot arena on an August day when you'd rather be outside barbecuing, "said the ever-smiling Crosato after establishing a Western Lacrosse Association record for most games handled by a referee. "But I'm honoured to be part of its history.

Ron's early involvement in sports was to follow his father Jim onto the baseball diamond. Jim was a pitcher in semi-pro ball and had encourage his son Ray and Ron to follow his example. Both youngsters played their way through Little League, Babe Ruth and Connle Mack levels, with Ray eventually signing a professional contract with the New York Yankees. Unfortunately, after four seasons in the minors, Ray injured his throwing arm and was forced to hang up in glove.

Meanwhile, Ron was talked into trying his athletic prowess in a new sport - football. He wasn't a world-beater but was good enough at fullback to make the strong Vancouver Blue Bombers by spending the next three years coaching the Bombers juvenile squad.

Marriage to Chris and a move to Burnaby persuaded Ron to set aside his athletic ventures to concentrate on providing for his family. But the Cro (and obvious nickname for someone called Crosato) was only 25 years of age and the sporting itch was still chafing.

At the time, Ron was working with a fellow named Len Coombes who, in his spare time, was involve in lacrosse as a referee and organizer. Coombes recruited Cro to work as a security pass gate guard at the 1973 Minto Cup series in New Westminster with strict instructions to deny entry to one and all if they failed to produce proper credentials.

"I didn't know anyone; I hadn't even seen lacrosse," recalled Crosato with a chuckle. "Then, this fellow wanted to enter and I refused him - I didn't know him from Adam. It turned out that he was Wally Donaldson, the junior league commissioner; but instead of getting angry, he said 'Way to go!' and went and got his proper pass."

Coombes gave Ron a Lacrosse rulebook and by the following season, the Cro was refereeing Intermediate and Junior games. WLA Commissioner Roy Burton, a former player and referee himself, liked what he saw and hired Ron for the 1975 season. Over the next 20 years, Ron officiated:

  • In nine Mann Cup and six Minto Cup series;
  • As one of tow referees selected to handle the lacrosse demonstration sport exhibition at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton;
  • At the Nations '80 championships

Ron was also asked to referee in the 1984 World Field Lacrosse championships in Baltimore but work commitments prohibited him from accepting.

The Cro's refereeing was not restricted to the WLA. He has spent 15 to 20 nights a month every season officiating senior junior and intermediate box lacrosse game in addition to Under 17, Under 19, and Senior Men's field lacrosse. If he could find a few moments to spare, he filled them by conducting clinics for referees and evaluating up-and - coming game officials.

After the 1995 season, Ron packed away his whistle to spend more time with his son Brent, a member of the powerful Burnaby Lakers junior club from 1995 to 1999. Naturally, Ron had to be involved so he took over the chores of club equipment manager. When Brent won a field lacrosse scholarship at Merryhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania, Ron became a sports recruiter for the school.

With Brent and daughter Andrea on their own, Ron soon tired of lounging around his Point Roberts summer cabin, so, in 2001, he shed 48 excess pounds that had puffed up around his waist and made a successful return to the refereeing ranks.

Ron stays in the off-season with volunteer work at Saint Thomas More college high school - coached the Grade 8 football team for 10 years, coached the field lacrosse team to the B.C. championship in 2001, and refereed the Grade 8 and 9 basketball games. Oh, yes, he also coached bantam boys' hockey in Burnaby and spent three years as a governor with the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

No other WLA referee has handled as many games as Ron - 342 league, 122 playoff and 18 Mann Cup contests for and incredible 482 games at the Senior 'A' level.

Does he intend to continue referee after 2001? Well, at 482 games, it's only a short hop to 500 - least, as The Cro flies.