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N.K. resident going into Sports Hall

Three inductions in three years for lax star McLennan

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Provincial team lacrosse star Keith McLennan is shown with a lacrosse stick he is repairing. McLennan fixes sticks for free at local games, and even on his lunch break.

PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON Enlarge Image

Provincial team lacrosse star Keith McLennan is shown with a lacrosse stick he is repairing. McLennan fixes sticks for free at local games, and even on his lunch break. Photo Store

Keith McLennan will soon complete a hat trick of hall inductions.

The 56-year-old North Kildonan resident was announced as one of eight individuals inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame on July 16. The induction will officially take place with a ceremony on Nov. 8.

The induction is the third in three years for McLennan, who went into the Manitoba Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2012 and the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2013.

"It’s going to end soon, but it’s been great," McLennan said of his recent run of honours. "It’s great for the sport of lacrosse."

McLennan began his lacrosse career with Kelvin Community Centre’s team at age seven, and parlayed that into a career where he played on the national stage 23 times, winning three national titles. Several of McLennan’s Elmwood contemporaries were also drawn to the sport, and he still keeps in close contact with many of them.

McLennan said the first title in 1985 — the senior men’s national division II championship — was the toughest to win, as Manitoba was still establishing itself in the field lacrosse style after years of playing primarily box lacrosse. McLennan said the team first played at the tournament in 1981, and improved steadily in the next few years.

"We were in Toronto, we were a mix of young and old — all box players," he said. "We played very well. We weren’t expected to do well. That first win was amazing."

At the division II championships, as an attackman, McLennan led the tournament in scoring eight times and was named MVP three times — in 1985, 1986, and 1995.
He said playing primarily field lacrosse was instrumental in helping him to maintain dominance for so long.

"It gives you time — you can be like a bear. You can run for 40 yards, and then you’re done for a while, so you get to rest," he said. "It’s played on grass, it’s played on a large field, so it’s easier on the body."

McLennan last played in a national championship in 1999, but has remained involved with the game, coaching son Trent as he rose through the ranks before opting to officiate midget and junior games last year.

"It keeps you in good shape — and it also shows you where your injuries are," he chuckled.
McLennan also gets his older son, Derek, involved in the sport. Derek has cerebral palsy and can’t play, but McLennan brings him out to games and tournaments where he runs a stick-repair stand where players can get their equipment fixed free of charge.

"I’ve fixed sticks for probably 50 per cent of Winnipeg," he said. "Everybody comes to me, and I love doing that, giving back to the sport."

Other northeast Winnipeg inductees include Al Kinley of the Elmwood Giants and East Side Eagles as a builder, and former Miles Macdonell Collegiate volleyball player Wanda Guenette as an athlete.

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