The local and national lacrosse communities have lost one of the game’s most passionate, respected and influential advocates.
Bill McBain passed away in Kelowna last Friday after a lengthy illness. He was 73.
Born in Fergus, Ont. in 1937, McBain was involved in the game his entire life, first as player, then later as a coach, adminstrator, builder and mentor.
After retiring to Kelowna in 1989, McBain had a profound effect on the growth and development of lacrosse throughout the region.
“Bill loved kids and he thought every one of them should have a lacrosse stick in his hand,” said Corinne Almas, a longtime lacrosse volunteer in Kelowna. “When Bill came here, he gave lacrosse a sense of direction. We were really spinning our wheels, but he came along to and took us to the next level. He had great ideas and great vision and did so much for the game. He showed us how to build lacrosse.”
McBain was largely responsible for starting up 22 local clubs in B.C. and was instrumental in the establishment of the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League.
A former president of the Canadian Lacrosse Association, McBain was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2008.
“I consider it a great privilege to be considered and to be inducted,” McBain told the Capital News upon his induction in 2008.
McBain ran the B.C. coaching association for many years and, later in his life, served as the chair of coaching for the CLA.
He also had a long military career as a technician in the Canadian Navy and
was inducted into the Canadian Armed Forces Sports Hall of Fame.
Among his other accomplishments, McBain is a former winner of the Lester B. Pearson Award for his contributions, leadership and development of lacrosse in Canada.
McBain mentored dozens of coaches and builders over the years, including Kelowna’s Dan Wray.
Currently the director of the Thompson Okanagan coaching association, Wray said McBain was not only a tremendous ambassador for the sport, but one of the kindest and most genuine people he’s ever known.
“Bill was a hunter, a fisherman, and he lived and breathed lacrosse…you can’t get much more Canadiana than that,” said Wray. “As for Bill the person, he had the biggest heart of anyone I ever knew. He was kindest, most thoughtful man you could meet—like a father to me.
“When it came to lacrosse, he was the coach’s coach,” added Wray. “He mentored so many people over the years, his legacy will be felt for a long time.”
Bill McBain is survived by his wife Mary, their children Billy, Cindy, Susan, Brian and Kelly, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life ceremony for Bill McBain will be held Wednesday, June 22 at Everdon Rust Funeral Home, 1910 Windsor in Kelowna.