Hall of Fame Inductee page:

Joanne Stanga


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reprinted from the Class of 2022 Induction Program:

JOANNE STANGA – Exceptional Women’s Field Lacrosse Builder

Hailing from Orillia, Ontario, Joanne Stanga has been instrumental in building women’s field lacrosse in Ontario, across Canada, and internationally.

As a player, she competed for Ontario and Canada. As a coach, Joanne guided teams to provincial, national and international titles. Her contributions also include serving in various administrative capacities. In her youth, Joanne played lacrosse in the backyard with her brothers, wishing there was a league for girls. Orillia did eventually enter a box team in the Golden Horseshoe League. However, it wasn’t until a job at the Ontario Lacrosse office, Joanne was introduced to field lacrosse. At the time a provincial team was all that existed, and it wasn’t long before the groundwork was laid to start developing the infrastructure to increase participation. While her involvement started in Ontario, it eventually led to contributions at the national and international levels. Joanne has served as a league convenor, coached, developed training material and made significant contributions wherever and whenever she could.

Joanne’s coaching resume includes (Orillia 2006-2010, Ontario Junior Provincial 1990-2000, Team Canada U19 1994-2003). In addition, her involvement includes building the game at a provincial level with the Ontario Women’s Field Lacrosse League as its Commissioner 1988-2005; Nationally as the Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA) Women’s Field Sector Chair from 1988-1992 and the CLA National Team Director 2005-2013. Joanne was also a member of the Federation of International Lacrosse Competition Committee 2009-2017.

Among her many accolades for contributions to lacrosse, Joanne is a Lifetime Member of Orillia Minor Lacrosse. She was inducted into the Orillia Sports Hall of Fame in 2021, the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2020; recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award in 2012; awarded Canadian Lacrosse Association’s Lester B. Pearson award in 2002 (presented by Lacrosse Canada to an individual in recognition of their unselfish dedication and outstanding contributions of sportsmanship and distinguished leadership to lacrosse) and in 1998, the Ontario Lacrosse Association “Tip Teather Award” (for outstanding service to the sport of lacrosse).

When asked to share her thoughts upon hearing about being inducted into the CLHOF, Joanne stated, “Thinking about the great names, their stories in the game, their history, and what they’ve gone through to get here, and then to think you are part of that is quite a feeling, and I honestly don’t know what words can describe it. I know I immediately called my mom. We were a lacrosse family growing up. She and my dad were such great role models for our family and within the community and I wanted to share the news with her right away. Without sounding like a cliche, it is truly an honour. As well, being inducted in the same year as Troyhann Santos and Trish Nicholson makes it even more special".

In discussing highlights of her Hall of Fame career, Joanne responded – “It was like a blank slate when we first started developing programs in the 1980’s, so there were a lot of firsts. We were very clear on what we wanted toachieve and I think had a lot of blind faith, but it’s great to look back to see that the foundation pieces were strong enough to stand up even 35 years later. The high school jamboree that helped build the high school leagues, the Junior Provincial team that led to four National Championships and players on all future Canada’s U19 National teams, the establishment of provincial leagues at the U19, U15 and Senior level. Today, there are house leagues for girls starting as young as age 4 and 5 and more than 80 teams playing in five provincial leagues from U11 to Senior, across 20 communities. I have so many extraordinary memories from my time coaching with the National U19 teams. One of my favourites will always be the night in Perth, Australia standing on the podium with the team receiving our bronze medals at the U19 World Championship with a super talented group of players and some of my very best friends”.

In acknowledging the specific people who impacted her career, Joanne noted, “I thank my lifelong lacrosse friends - Barb Boyes, Roxanne Curtis, Cheryl MacNeill and Paul Gilkinson. The comradery throughout our journey in both tough and triumphant times remained solid. Proof that respect and trust go a long way. Thanks to the many volunteers and staff over the years at the OLA. and CLA who gave support and space for the development of the women’s game. And a special thanks to the wonderful women of the International Federation of Women’s Lacrosse Association who gave so much guidance and inspiration for a young administrator to continue to grow the game”.

With a lacrosse resume approaching four decades, Joanne Stanga has been a significant and committed builder to the game of lacrosse. The result being, her induction into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame – Builder Category – Class of 2022.

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