Chuck Li – Quiet Multi Skilled Star
Editor's Note - The pandemic has resulted in activities across the World being delayed or cancelled for the past 20 months, including countless events in the Canadian lacrosse community. However, on Saturday, November 13, 2021 - the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame held a double cohort Induction ceremony for the years 2020 and 2021. A total of 4 players, 2 builders, 1 veteran and 1 team were inducted for each year.
This is the 4th of 16 feature articles pertaining to the most recent teams, players, builders, or veterans inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame. The following article highlights the Chuck Li – a multi Hall of Famer player known for his scoring prowess, humble nature and team first attitude.. Chuck Li was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2021 honoured in the Veteran category.
Born in Hong Kong, Chuck Li emigrated to Canada when he was seven years of age. His parents sent him to Canada to live with his grandparents in Cornwall, Ontario. Chuck was raised by his grandparents who gave him their surname of "Chin". As a consequence, Chuck's lacrosse career and scoring feats are found under the names of Chuck Chin and Chuck Li.
Chuck Chin began his lacrosse career at age 11 in Cornwall, Ontario. Although small in stature, he was known for his ability to play well under pressure. His major strengths included being a top-notch face-off player, a team leader and gifted play-maker. Chuck played both Junior and Senior level lacrosse as a teenager. Beginning at the age of 16, he was the team captain of the 1964, 1965, 1966 Cornwall Wildcats (leading the Junior “B” league in scoring in 1964 and was a top five scorer in the Quebec Senior League in 1965). The 1966 team won the Ontario Junior “B” championship losing in the Canadian championship to New Westminster. During this period, Chuck Li was awarded the Cornwall Sportsman of the Year for Lacrosse in 1964, 1966, 1969.
Chuck Chin - Cornwall Wildcat (1964-1966)
By 1968 Chuck had joined the legendary Oshawa Green Gaels. It was at this time; Chuck adopted the last name ”Li” thus ending the lacrosse career of Chuck Chin. Chuck Li played on two Minto Cup championship teams with the Oshawa Junior "A" team in 1968 and 1969. In 1969, he was the leading scorer for the team and 2nd in league scoring. Among his numerous accomplishments, Chuck received the OLA award for Top Ability and Sportsmanship.
Chuck Li’s Senior “A” lacrosse career saw him play for Brooklin (1970–1971) and Windsor (1972). He was picked up by the Peterborough Lakers for the Mann Cup in 1970. He was an OLA - MSL first team all-star in 1971.
Chuck’s professional career in the National Lacrosse Association with Detroit team (1968) and National Lacrosse League teams Toronto Tomahawks (1974) and the Boston Bolts (1975). Chuck was so highly regarded; he was a first round draft choice of the Toronto Tomahawks.
Chuck Li as a Windsor Warlock
Chuck Li’s scoring totals combining Junior “A”, Junior “B”, Senior “A” and Senior “B” and pro lacrosse reveal 291 games played, 403 goals scored, along with 604 assists for a total of 1007 total points. He also accumulated 381 penalty minutes.
The Green Gaels team Chuck Li played for was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2000 and into the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame in 1992. Chuck Li has also been inducted into the Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame (2000) and Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame (2013).
When hearing the news of his induction into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, Chuck Li responded, “When I first received the news, when I heard the words, it took a few seconds to sink in and then it was a great feeling. I had felt some doubt in my mind. Afterwards I was distracted all day as I absorbed the fact – I am actually Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame. I am grateful and thank those many team mates and coaches who helped me along the way”.
While reminiscing about his career, Chuck shared his thoughts, “One of the biggest change in my life was the transition from my home town of Cornwall to the big city of Oshawa where the Minto Cup champion Green Gaels played. It was like night and day learning Jim Bishop’s system and to succeed quickly really helped me in my transition. Under Jim Bishop, a coach who was ahead of his time I developed into a good player. Jim put a great deal of trust in me. I worked hard to ensure I met the standards expected of a Green Gael. I felt honored to play for Oshawa”.
Chuck knows there were critical decisions that changed the path of his lacrosse life and the influence of others made a difference. He pays special tribute to his coach in Cornwall Norm MCrimmon. “Norm McCrimmon, my Junior “B” coach of the Cornwall Wildcats team suggested that I move to Oshawa instead of Toronto which was my original plan. I had no plan to play lacrosse when I moved to Toronto. Norm made all the contacts and arrangement for me to move to Oshawa and my life took a different direction than I had planned, one of which I am so grateful for his influence in my life”
If you have ever had the opportunity to meet Chuck Li, you will find him to be a gracious and humble person. Like so many of the truly greats that have blessed lacrosse fans with their play over the years, Chuck Li is the type of team-mate you would relish having. Certainly, he is deserving of joining the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame - Class of 2021.
(Written by Rad Joseph - Member of Major Series Lacrosse Media team)