Behind the Scenes with Bill Joiner, Chairman of the Board of the Peterborough Lakers

By Rad Joseph

If you ever meet William “Bill” Bruce Joiner, you immediately realize he has a very engaging personality and you are left with the impression, “This man is full of energy.” Bill is a native of Peterborough and he has been the Chairman of the Board of the immensely successful Peterborough Lakers for the past eight years. He claims he is retiring from the Lakers at the end of the 2022 season. We spent a few minutes to chat with Bill as he offered some insight to his own background and offered his opinion on lacrosse related issues.

Bill Joiner
Chairman of the Board
#1 Can you tell us a bit about your personal background
I was born in 1946 in Peterborough. My education background includes attending Kenner Collegiate, Sanford Fleming College and the Labour College of Canada.
My mom was a stay-at-home wife who in later years worked part time. My dad William Henry Joiner came to Canada from England when he was two years old. Dad worked for Campbell’s dairy and joined the army when the war started. Dad was a physical trainer. He was into sports big time, including being an amateur boxer and an accomplished swimmer. He really enjoyed hunting and fishing – two past times I learned from him. After the Second World War, my dad stayed in the army for a couple more years before leaving. He returned to Peterborough went to work at General Electric having a career that spanned 42 years before he retired.
I have two siblings – an older sister Judith Mary and a younger brother Ronald James. Sadly, he passed away from cancer in 1996. He was a great athlete.
I have been married to my wife Gayla Francis (twin sister of Gail Ann) for 51 years and counting. During her working career, Gayla was a hairstylist and owned her own business and she was a damn good hairstylist, if I may say. We have a daughter - Florence Yvette Hurley – who is the Chief Administration Officer for the Township of Cavan Monaghan

#2 What did you work at for your own career/occupation?
I worked at Outboard Marine Limited from 1964 to 1981. While at Outboard Marine, I became very involved with the Steel Workers Union serving as Chief Plant Steward and Chairman of the Grievance Negotiating Committee and Recording Secretary. I attended the Labour College of Canada on a scholarship for 10 weeks, sponsored by the Steel Workers Union.  This was an incredible learning experience and helped me to personally develop negotiating skills and dealing with people.
Eventually, I left Outboard and went to Ashburnham Contracting from 1981 to 1995. I then started my own business in 1995 - Joiner‘s Construction Services, from which I retired in 2011.
Along the way, I was on the Board of Directors of the Peterborough Home Builders Association and Board of Directors for the Peterborough Construction Exchange, as well as Past President of the Peterborough Construction Exchange.

#3  What sports did you play?
I played hockey, baseball, softball (Ontario championship in 1962). I did play lacrosse one summer at the Miller Bowl – I even played one game in goal). I never played All-Star sports. I love to hunt, fish and golf. And make no mistake – I love all sports. Over the years while in business, I sponsored minor hockey teams my grandson played on. I really loved lacrosse and knew most of the local players which compelled me to be a season ticket holder for a number of years. I had been a volunteer with the previous board over the years. When the Lakers had a change of Board Members, I became directly involved beginning in 2015.

#4  How and when did you become involved with the Peterborough Lakers?
I have known Ted Higgins since I was 13 years old. With both of us operating local businesses, we continued to know of each other. In January of 2015, Ted contacted me and asked me to join his new board as Chairman. I met with Ted and Lynn Withers. I then met with Ted Higgins, Len Powers and Mark Vitarelli. After these discussions, I agreed to be Chairman of the new Lakers board.

#5  What tasks have been most challenging in your role with the Lakers?
The most challenging thing about the Board of Directors is the time spent getting sponsors and looking for volunteers. Essentially, my role has included being involved in what’s going on with much of the operation of the team. As Chairman I felt it was my duty to be on the Board of Governors of Major Series Lacrosse. My biggest challenge there was to bring the Board of Governors from MSL out of the past and somehow find a new Commissioner. I took a lot of flack from MSL Board members and my own Board members for being too pushy - but it was well worth it when MSL found a new Commissioner.

#6  What has brought you the greatest level of satisfaction/joy in your role with the Lakers?
My greatest level of satisfaction is meeting and working with all of the Board members of the Peterborough Lakers who I consider friends. The Lakers are one large family, The joy of watching the Lakers Board members, Coaches and players work together to be the champions they are, has been immeasurable. I am very thankful to all of our local business sponsors of the Lakers and our 3000+ fanbase – the very best in the MSL!

#7  As a Governor on the Major Series Lacrosse Executive Board – how do you assess the state of MSL?
MSL needs some work. We need to update sections of our policy paper and to do it sooner than later. In my opinion, the OLA Junior “A” draft system needs to be overhauled totally, so there’s no misunderstanding on paying for the drafting of graduating junior players.

#8  If you could wave a magic wand – what would you like to see change in Major Series Lacrosse?
MSL needs to stay completely out of the Brampton/Owen Sound fiasco - let the courts decide this. This is not MSL’s job and is certainly not an OLA job. It would be better for the MSL, if there was less interference from the OLA.

#9  As a member of the Lakers’ Board of Directors – you have associated with some of the finest minds and people in all of lacrosse – your thoughts on that and your thoughts on any particular people?
After eight years on the Peterborough board of directors it’s my time to let some new blood with fresh ideas join the Lakers board.  I have enjoyed every minute with these people. Yes, we have had our ups and downs - but we have always come out better for it.  Certainly, I will miss this. But at age 76, it is my time to relax a little more and just be a fan.
I have met some great people through Lacrosse on the Lakers’ Board & MSL Board. I like to call them all friends - friends for life even though some of these friends think I’m too pushy (LOL). Sometimes I think we all have to be somewhat assertive or there is little progress and nothing gets accomplished. A few years ago, I suggested board members should be changed, one every few years because of burn out - new members on a board, bring new ideas.  And it is time for Bill Joiner to step aside.

#10  Hard to imagine a “hands-on, let’s get the job done” type of person such as Bill Joiner is going to completely step aside from lacrosse….any thoughts you want to share here?
I always have said when stepping away from something - make sure it’s in good hands and the Peterborough Lakers Board is on top!  I wish the entire organization (coaches, players, trainers, everybody), I wish all of them nothing but the best. I do hope we can bring the Mann Cup home one more time before I leave.  I know we can!

Only those directly involved with the operation of the Lakers truly know the remarkable efforts Bill Joiner has continually made. Mark Vitarelli (another key member of the Lakers Board of Directors) speaks very highly when asked about the contributions and commitment of Bill Joiner.  Mark noted, “Bill Joiner was introduced by Ted Higgins back when we formed the new board. Bill came in as an unknown and given his extensive business and sports background, he was appointed Chairman of the Board.  He has done an outstanding job both with his leadership ability and his relationships with the community to get new sponsorships and guide us through some unknown challenges when we first began. Bill has always gone above and beyond to do whatever is needed to support the team. He also travels to road games pulling a trailer full of equipment for the team. This is a true testament to his love of the game and the Lakers organization.Bill represents our team at the MSL board of Governors meetings. He has a true passion for the league to remain strong while not taking a back seat to anything that the Lakers table or challenges that other teams bring forward. I believe he was truly instrumental in the league surviving this past year utilizing his relationships with the governors of all six /seven teams to continue on the MSL season. I don’t think there is anything he hasn’t done for the team. He also travelled to New Westminster and Victoria for the past two Mann cups in British Columbia representing the Lakers Board.
I know he has mentioned that he will be stepping away from the Board after the 2022 Mann Cup series.  However, I believe Bill will continue to help the team in some way going forward. I feel it is one of my jobs to convince Bill to remain with us to take another road trip out west with the team”.
John Grant Sr, another vital component of the Lakers’ Board of Directors stated, “Bill Joiner is one of our hardest working Board members. He is always there for the Lakers. Whether in the East or out West, he is supporting our TEAM”.
The game of lacrosse in Canada has had many incredible and passionate contributors to the sport.  Clearly, the Peterborough Lakers had the good fortune of having Bill Joiner serving the team and the entire community of Peterborough as the Lakers’ Chairman of the Board.  

Rad Joseph
MSL Media Team