Humble Superstar Bob Watson 2021 Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame Inductee
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 16th 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 goaltender Bob Watson who backstopped 2 Founders Cup, 1 Mann Cup and 6 Champions Cup National Lacrosse League championships. Bob Watson had a lengthy and successful career as one of the top goaltenders of his era. He achieved immense success winning several team championships and individual awards. Bob Watson was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2021 honoured in the Player category.
A native of Guelph, Ontario - Bob “Whipper” Watson is considered one of the very best goalies of his era. He started playing minor lacrosse in Guelph at the age of four and volunteered to be the goaltender the first time he played lacrosse. Known for his stellar play and clutch goaltending over his career, he has proven to be a goalie who backstops his teams to championships.
In addition, Bob Watson had individual success winning awards for his consistently reliable goaltending. He was known for mentoring team-mates who admired his cool and calm nature and considered him a humble Superstar.
When informed he was part of the Class of 2021 for induction into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, Bob Watson responded - "Upon hearing about my induction into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, I was thrilled and excited to be included among some of the games greatest players and builders of the sport. I can truly say that during all my years playing, I never once thought about being considered for the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, let alone being inducted. It is truly an incredible honour.”
Bob Watson guarded the net four seasons (1987-1990) for the Kitchener-Waterloo Braves of the OLA Junior “B” loop winning two Founders Cup – one in 1987 and again in 1988. His final year of Junior lacrosse in 1991, Watson played Junior “A” for Kitchener.
After a successful career at the Junior level, Bob Watson went on to play thirteen seasons of OLA Major Series lacrosse winning one Mann Cup with the Brampton Excelsiors in 2002. In addition, he was a two-time winner of the Harry Lumley Award for least goals against in 2000 and 2002. He also played two seasons in the OLA Senior “B” League with the Wellington Aces. In recalling the Mann Cup victory, Bob smiled and stating, “Winning the Mann Cup as a member of the Brampton Excelsiors in 2002 and finally having the opportunity to hoist the games most prestigious cup over my head was an incredible moment that I will never forget!
Lacrosse fans know Bob Watson for his tremendous success while playing fifteen seasons in the National Lacrosse League winning six NLL Champions Cup with the Toronto Rock in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2011. In 2003 and 2011, Watson was voted Most Valuable Player in the NLL Champions Cup. During the 2001 and 2008 season, he was selected as the NLL Goalie of the Year. In assessing his NLL career, Watson reflected noting, “playing at Maple Leaf Gardens in front of a sold-out crowd as a member of the Toronto Rock and winning the Champions Cup in 1999 for the first time was another memory that stands out! Finally, ending my career on my own terms and retiring as an NLL Champion in 2011 was a great ending to the last game I ever played in the NLL”.
Bob Watson’s NLL career culminated in 2011 when he became only the third goaltender elected to the National Lacrosse League Hall of Fame.
He has also been inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame twice. He was the goalie of a bantam lacrosse team that won a national championship in 1984 and were inducted in 2000. The second time, Bob was inducted as a player in the year 2014. Of interest, the nickname of “Whipper” was passed down from his father. Bob’s father had been tagged as “Whipper Watson” by his work mates as a tribute to the professional Canadian wrester, “Whipper Billy Watson”.
When at his best - which was almost always - Bob Watson was considered one of the very best goalies in lacrosse. He was usually the reason the teams he played with, won. His calm and cool demeanor was one of the reasons he was immensely successful.
Like many of lacrosse greatest stars, upon retirement as a player - Bob Watson gave back to the game coaching at the minor lacrosse league level. In addition, he acknowledged his gratitude for those people who impacted his career – “I have been truly blessed throughout my lacrosse career having had amazing and influential coaches at all levels including Lawrie Hallman, John Lovell, Troy Cordingley and the late Les Bartley. I would like to give a special acknowledgement to the late Terry Sanderson, a man who I respected and played for the most during my career. "T" gave a young, unproven kid an opportunity to reach his full potential and fulfill his dream of playing the game at the highest level. I had the pleasure of being surrounded by unbelievable teammates at all levels of the game that I have shed blood, sweat and tears with and on several occasions, champagne. They have provided me with some of the greatest memories and moments of my life and I am proud to call them my friends. Finally, a sincere "Thank You" to my wife and kids, my parents and family for all the love, emotional support, and personal sacrifice during my playing career and beyond. It certainly did not go unnoticed, and my success would not have been possible without you.
One can simply conclude - Bob Watson had a lengthy and successful career as one of the top goaltenders of his era, playing with and against some of the greatest players in the history of the game. He achieved immense success winning several team championships and individual awards. His accomplishments speak for themselves – worthy of induction into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in the Player category for the Class of 2021.
(Written by Rad Joseph - Member of Major Series Lacrosse Media team)