Bill Hutton Lifetime of Commitment

“Positive organizations attract positive people which leads to positive results”

Lifetime of Commitment

With a dedicated direct involvement totaling more than five decades to lacrosse, many lacrosse insiders consider William “Bill” Hutton as the most influential President to ever lead the Canadian Lacrosse Association (now Lacrosse Canada).  Although he never played lacrosse (his father thought the game was too rough), Bill Hutton served in various roles at the local, provincial, national and international levels as a coach, tournament convenor, Ontario Minor Lacrosse President, Ontario Lacrosse Association President and Canadian Lacrosse Association (now Lacrosse Canada) Chairperson.  In addition, he has been the Chair of the Canadian Lacrosse Foundation.

Personal Philosophy

Bill Hutton is driven by a strongly adhered to personal philosophy.  He believes in structure and giving back to the community.  Bill will tell you – “Do not just sit back and complain about something – do something about it. Work for the betterment.  Don’t just be a critic, work to make positive changes”.

Major Accomplishments

Included among his major accomplishments was leading amalgamation of the Ontario Minor Lacrosse Association and the Ontario Lacrosse Association, which led to greater efficiencies for the sport. Bill Hutton also chaired the 1986 World Field Lacrosse Championship when the government and other entities had turned its back on the project. Furthermore, he restructured the Canadian Lacrosse Association at a time when his stellar leadership was required.

In addition, Bill Hutton was a key force in getting lacrosse acknowledged as Canada’s National Summer Sport with the implementation of Bill C-212 in 1994 which officially recognized lacrosse as Canada’s National Summer Sport. 

It began for Bill Hutton when he first became involved with Ajax Minor Lacrosse in 1973 becoming a coach and equipment manager.  Within a season or two, Bill witnessed the organization needed new leadership as the previous group were burned out.  Registration had decreased from 1400 to 300 players.  Bill canvassed to see why the numbers had dropped so significantly. Employing situational analysis, he asked – “Why has this happened?”  Discovering poor coaching and poor officiating had turned the kids off – they had a bad experience, so they didn’t come back.  (Officiating and Coaching are the essential basics for serving the athlete) With the philosophy – “the structure should be servingthe athlete not the bureaucrats, but the athlete”, Bill Hutton became President of the Ajax Minor Lacrosse program.  They initiated a free introductory program of a modified game.  No goalies (plywood cutouts) and no penalties served in the penalty box, but rather, penalty shots. There was also on floor coaching.  Unfortunately, after two years of success the Ajax lacrosse organization lost their arena as the town decided to renovate the facility and the introductory lacrosse program floundered.  At that point, Bill Hutton became a Board member of the then Ontario Minor Lacrosse Association (1978).  He found himself disappointed in the lack of focus, lack of direction and decided to run for President of OMLA, winning the election. He served as OMLA President 1979-1983. First mission - determine what was happening at grass roots – “Where is it going?”  The Huntley Report had determined what was going on at the grass roots level.  Under Bill’s leadership and direction, the OMLA took on restructuring and adopted the zone concept. Previous structure was at the elite box level.  All the energies were at the “A” level of competition.  Zone concept cut down on extensive travel and brought together people within the communities, who would work together to build their organizations and help each other.  That was the philosophy.  The structure provided self-determination, establishing protocols, policies, procedures and practices and provided a framework for growth.  Management from the bottom up and leadership from the top down.  What happens at the grass roots stimulates what happens in the future.  Leadership shows the way.  The Zone concept was based on such a premise. 

Next step – the Ontario government did an evaluation on Ontario lacrosse.  Bill assisted in the amalgamation of lacrosse.  He felt lacrosse should be one community.  Future government funding was attached to this, and the government financed this large initiative.  Bill Walker was President of the Ontario Lacrosse Association at the time.  Even though the Major Series clubs did not initially support amalgamation - it was ultimately adopted and amalgamation took place. Bill Hutton became President of the newly created Ontario Lacrosse Association, with the intent to serve the players whether it be box or field lacrosse, male or female. He served as President of the OLA from 1983 through 1985.

Next on the list of accomplishments - World 1986 Field Lacrosse Championships came up.  The original Chairperson resigned.  Bill Hutton stepped up to take on the role as Chair.  It was an experience.  They could not get federal government funding, (CLA would only support National Team not Host of the event) which meant no funding from the provinces.  The lack of funding brought in a process of lobbying (Jim Calder was instrumental, with this). A one-on-one meeting with Otto Jelinek – Federal Government Minister of Sport helped obtain some funding.  The event was a success on the field and there was no debt left behind.  Despite the success, Bill Hutton was troubled by lack of support by Sport Canada – it is our National Summer Game – How can Sport Canada not support lacrosse?

At that time, the Canadian Lacrosse Association was financially and morally bankrupt.  The government was not going to continue supporting the CLA.  Bill Hutton stepped up to be Canadian Lacrosse Association President – a position he held for 13 years.  He believed in the game and wanted to be part of helping grow the game. The interest at the time was simply about National championships. Bill believes the grass roots level of the game is essential to both the survival and growth of lacrosse.

Bill Hutton employed a business model knowing the need to give confidence to the membership that the CLA was working in the best interest of the membership.  This required bringing in more people to share the workload and provide an environment for growth.  Although support was good, there were doubters including the big province - the OLA was not fully committed.  However, the CLA persevered and gained support from the grass-roots levels.  Bill knew it was essential for lacrosse to gain national status for the credibility of the sport.  Lacrosse people believe in the game, but they were not selling the game. With years of plugging away, we see the result – today, lacrosse has made substantial progress and is now an internationally recognized sport.

Directly related to this is the tradition of the game – small based, but with a cultural origin, lacrosse has struggled with its inability to entice new Canadians to the game.  Bill Hutton knew it was necessary to embrace change and entice newcomers.

In acquiring a national status, lacrosse had added credibility giving it a structure – “We ARE lacrosse!”  There is still a multitude of tasks ahead to expand the game.  However, Bill Hutton knows and has proven, it is about positive organizations who attract positive people which leads to positive results.


His fifty plus years of commitment have been acknowledged with Bill Hutton having received numerous accolades including the Canadian Lacrosse Association Lester B. Pearson Award (1981); the Ontario Lacrosse Association Mr. Lacrosse Award (1986); Life Membership into the Ontario Lacrosse Association (1986);

Olympic Celebration Award (1988); Canada’s 125th Governor General’s Award (1993); and induction as an Honoured member in the Builder category into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame (2003). Bill still serves on the final appeals committee for the OLA - a testimony of his respect for the game and the game’s respect for him!

Realistic, Innovative and Visionary

Through countless contributions Bill Hutton has given to lacrosse, it is apparent he is a person who is realistic (such as understanding the need to deal with and sometimes overcome the politics of sport).  But of greater significance is Bill Hutton’s innovative mind.  One could say he is visionary.  He saw the need to step up and contribute to Ajax Minor Lacrosse. He realized the need to amalgamate Ontario Minor Lacrosse with the OLA, after he led to the creation of the zone concept for Ontario minor lacrosse.  Bill understood what was necessary to make hosting the 1986 World Lacrosse Championship a success.  He knew the Canadian Lacrosse Association needed to be independent.  Bill envisioned the role the Canadian Lacrosse Foundation could play in assisting lacrosse to survive and thrive.  A very modest, honest and exceptionally hard-working person, our game of lacrosse should be grateful for the immense contributions of William (Bill) Hutton.