Joey Harris has done it all – Box and Field Player and Top-Level Executive
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 11th 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 Builder Joey Harris – who has made countless contributions to lacrosse at the provincial, national and international levels. He experienced great success as a player and coach in both box and field lacrosse including being an on floor/field official. However, his greatest impact was at the administrative level serving lacrosse in various positions with the Canadian Lacrosse Association. Joey Harris was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2020 honoured in the Builder category.
Although born in Chicago, from age six onward, Joey Harris was raised in Winnipeg. He became involved in lacrosse for which he is well known given his long-time commitment and hard work in helping build the game of lacrosse across Canada and around the world.
When asked for his reaction upon hearing he would be inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, Joey Harris responded, “In two words “humbled” and honoured considering those inductees that were before me. No one starts playing a sport with the intention of winning awards. My involvement in lacrosse was for the love of it. From the moment I picked up that lacrosse stick, I knew lacrosse was for me."
Joey Harris experienced great success as a player. He began playing minor box lacrosse in 1970 graduating to play Junior “B” representing Manitoba teams in the Founder’s Cup.
As a box lacrosse player - between 1993 and 2000, Joey Harris was on five Manitoba Senior “B” box lacrosse championship teams (1993, 1994, 1995, 1999, 2000). On three occasions he was selected to the Manitoba team that played in the President’s Cup.
In addition, Joey Harris excelled in field lacrosse playing defense for Manitoba in field lacrosse during the years 1983-2001 including winning the 1985, 1986 and 1995 Canadian Senior Men’s Field Lacrosse Gold medal championship. Silver medals were earned in 1990, 1992, 1996, 1999, 2001 and bronze medals in 1993 and 1997. Furthermore, Joey Harris was on the 2003 Team Canada that captured the bronze medal in the World Intercrosse Cup in 2003, winning the FIIC bronze medal.
Mr. Harris has made contributions to lacrosse as a coach. This includes coaching minor box lacrosse at the tyke and novice levels. In addition, he coached field lacrosse, specifically the Manitoba U19 provincial team in 1991 and 1992. Furthermore, Joey Harris coach Manitoba Senior Men’s lacrosse from 1995-2001.
Furthermore, Joey Harris contributed to lacrosse as game official. He refereed in Winnipeg minor box lacrosse (1985-1994) and field lacrosse in the Manitoba High School Lacrosse League.
Joey Harris was still playing lacrosse (his playing career ended in 2002), while taking on key administrative roles. In 1986 he was the Treasurer for the Manitoba Lacrosse Association. Just three years later, Mr. Harris took of the responsibility as President of the MLA and remained there for a full decade (1989-1999). Also in 1999, Joey joined the Board of Directors of the Canadian Lacrosse Association. He was the President of the CLA since 2003. He complemented that by being one of the founding board members of the Canadian Lacrosse Foundation in 2006, where he continues involvement.
During his almost twenty years with the CLA, President Joey Harris has overseen changes in the organization and its governance and strategic planning. Mr. Harris has contributed to the establishment of the national team program and the implementation of the Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model. In addition, the adoption of anti-doping education and testing procedures have been developed. And most noteworthy, the expansion of lacrosse to all provinces and territories in Canada.
As President of the CLA Mr. Harris represented Canada in the National Field Team Program – so successful a program Canada has claimed three gold and two silver medals in past five World Championships.
And just for fun - along with dealing with lacrosse issues at the national level – Joey Harris has so convened many Canadian championships, including five consecutive Minto Cup Junior A Championships.
In recalling particular highlights of his Hall of Fame Builder career, Joey Harris stated, "I have benefited so much from lacrosse. Over the decades I have made great friends and grew personally and professionally. I don’t ever think I can ever repay what was given to me by the Creator’s game. With 16 years as Canadian Lacrosse Association President and 10 years on the board as Manitoba Lacrosse President, the following highlight come to mind:
- Getting every province playing lacrosse in some form long with attending Canadian Lacrosse Association meetings
- Creating an Indigenous Direct position This allowed for active input and becoming an equal member of the board
- Having the Minto Cup championship expand to 3 teams
- Leading the creation of a true national team program that abided by Sport Canada requirements which allowed the CLA to receive high performance funding
In addition to traveling across Canada, lacrosse has also taken Joey Harris around the world. He has represented the CLA at international meetings and events in held in Hungary, Finland and the Czech Republic.
When citing particular people who impacted his Hall of Fame Builder career, Joey Harris commented, “There are so many people I can include as that is one of the key things that kept me going - the people across the country. There are some key individuals though that acted as mentors, role models, confidantes and friends. If I miss some I apologize: Jim Burke and Bill Hutton (my predecessors) who brought the CLA back from almost extinction, Jane Clapham CLA Executive Director who was my “Radar” all those years and some key individuals on the Board who also were friends. Tom Engel, the late Sohen Gil, AJ Johma, Stewart Begg and Chuck Miller and Shawn Williams to name a few. And of course, last but certainly not the least - my family who put up with my many hours of work and traveling that took me away from home.
Mr. Harris has been recognized for his many contributions to lacrosse. In 2017, he was the recipient of the Lester B. Pearson Award for unselfish dedication and outstanding contribution to lacrosse. In 2016, Joey Harris was inducted as a Builder/Player into the Manitoba Lacrosse Hall of Fame. In 2012, he was one of only 55 people across the entire Canadian lacrosse community to receive a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Clearly Joey Harris has served the sport of lacrosse. He has contributed immensely to the game. Without question, Joey Harris has earned his induction into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame – in the Builder category - Class of 2020.
(Written by Rad Joseph - Member of Major Series Lacrosse Media team)