The game is a source of spiritual medicine for both professionals and amateurs

By: Blake Stucky

As lacrosse continues to gain prominence among Canada’s top recreational sports, some players are turning to it as a means of healing and stress relief. 

Troy Gutowski, a Nursing student at Red River College Polytechnic, said he remembers watching his separated parents argue as they struggled to pay his hockey fees. 

Gutowski said at 13 years old, those moments made him consider lacrosse as a more affordable alternative.

“My parents weren’t rich so [paying for hockey] was always a stressful thing for them,” he said. “I think that made me fall in love with lacrosse more.”

Gutowski attributes those arguments between his parents to the high anxiety in his life. He said he didn’t feel he had a way to vent his frustration and anger at the time, but lacrosse gave him an opportunity.

“It’s an aggressive sport, so I could take out some aggression and anger when it was appropriate,” he said.

“When arguments were going on at home with my parents it was an escape. As a kid it really helped me relieve that stress.”

University of Manitoba student, Jonah Lockhart goes through demonstrations in his backyard on Oct. 12./BLAKE STUCKY

In Canada, more than 100,000 players are registered with the Canadian Lacrosse Association, playing recreationally and competitively at the high school and professional levels.

Professional lacrosse player Jeff Shattler said the game is an important source of stress relief in his life. 

“It has been a medicine game,” the Saskatchewan Rush forward said. “ I always feel mentally aware, I have a lot less hate, a lot less frustration and depression when I come off the floor.”

The 36-year-old explained lacrosse was once used to settle disputes between tribes. 

“The game is used to heal anger, not display it,” he said. “It’s a social experience that builds community and connection between competitors and teammates.”

Shattler said lacrosse taught him patience as a young man and he hopes it will do the same for other young athletes.