The same week the Washington Stealth opened its pro lacrosse exhibition season, head coach Chris Hall began his fight against cancer.
Hall, a Victoria Shamrocks legend, leads a heavy contingent of Victoria coaches and players that make up the Stealth franchise based in Everett, Wash.
After the Stealth played the Toronto Rock in a preseason match hosted at the Langley Events Centre on Saturday, Hall, who lives in Victoria, spoke for the first time since starting a six-week treatment for throat cancer, with which he was diagnosed in early November.
“It’s overwhelming how much support I’ve gotten from friends and family in the lacrosse world,” Hall said in the team’s post-game video.
“I didn’t know if I’d make it this weekend and it’s been fantastic to be here, really helped me through it.”
It’s a considerable achievement by Hall considering he’s undergoing heavy bouts of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Hall is hoping to make this weekend’s camp in Everett, then take a step back.
The Stealth’s game versus the Toronto Rock was a rematch of the 2010 and 2011 NLL Champions Cup, which the Stealth won in 2010 and lost in 2011 under Hall’s guidance.
Assistant coach Art Webster, also a former Shamrocks coach and player, will assume the head coaching role during Hall’s leave.
The Stealth boast a core of current and former Shamrocks such as Lewis Ratcliff and Rhys Duch, as well as an ex-Victoria Salmon Kings ECHL hockey player vying for a regular season spot, Milan Gajic. The latter was the lone Gajic to take a crack at pro hockey while brothers Nenad, Ilija and Alex played college lacrosse and are now on the Colorado Mammoth of the NLL.