Part II A Life in Lacrosse Bob Hanna The Coach

A Life in Lacrosse

Part 2

Bob Hanna – Coach


Happy in Retirement

Bob Hanna has coached and managed at every level of minor, junior, senior and professional lacrosse. Along the way, Bob also served as executive and president of the Scarborough Minor Lacrosse Association for 10 years. In addition, he was the Technical Director for the Ontario Lacrosse Association for eight years (October 1990–December 1997).

Bob first began coaching as a player/coach with the Newmarket Green Gaels Intermediate “A” team in 1960. Bob had joined the team as a player and found out quickly at the first practice, he was also going to be coaching the team. Active as a player until 1969, at the request of his good friend and mentor Jim Bishop, Bob Hanna began coaching the Oshawa Green Gaels. The Gaels had just completed their seven-year run of Minto Cup championships under Jim Bishop. Bob inherited a team with very few of the Minto Cup players still on the roster. He coached the team for 1970, 1971 and 1972. During the 1972 season, Bob felt he just wasn’t getting enough mileage out of the players, so he stepped aside. Hearing Bob Hanna was not coaching, Wayne Copeland asked Bob to help with the Toronto Shooting Stars of the National Lacrosse League which led to Bob eventually head coaching the team. By 1974, Hanna was serving in the role of Assistant Coach with a new NLL franchise – the Toronto Tomahawks.

Fast forward to 1976 and Bob Hanna is serving as a mentor to coaches in the Scarborough Minor Lacrosse Association. Grant Heffernan and Red Crawford were coaching the Junior “B” team where Bob served in an advisory capacity. In 1977, the Saints went onto win the Founders Cup at the Canada Games held in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

In 1979, Bob returned to coach with the Junior “A” Gaels where he stayed for two seasons (1979, 1980).  By 1981, Bob had returned to coach the Scarborough Midget team who went on to win the Canadian Midget “B” championship held in Montreal. Continuing to step up to help where most needed, Bob Hanna coached the Junior “B” Saints for the 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985 seasons. Scarborough won the Founders Cup in 1985 where the team went 23-0-1 during the regular season and 14-0 during the playoffs. 

In 1986, Bob Hanna was recruited to coach the Etobicoke Eclipse team of the OLA Junior “A” league where they placed 4th with a 9-10-1 record. The season previous to Hanna coaching, Etobicoke had placed dead last in the league with a 1-23-0 record.

Upon completion of the 1986 season, Bob Hanna took a sabbatical from lacrosse to spend time travelling with his family including a trip to China. By 1990, he was back behind the bench having agreed to coach the Whitby Warriors. However, given he was the Technical Director for the Ontario Lacrosse Association, Bob could not coach as he would be in a conflict-of-interest situation.

After eight years as the OLA Technical Director, Hanna did return to the club level and took on the role of General Manager with the Whitby Warriors. This reunited Bob with his friend Jim Bishop who was coaching the Warriors. Sadly, Jim Bishop died in a car accident in 1998. This left Bob Hanna to take on coaching along with his General Manager duties. Bob dedicated the season in memory of his friend Jim Bishop. The Warriors went onto win the Minto Cup in the 1999 season. Bob Hanna served the Whitby organization for 14 years. He won two Minto Cups (1999 as a Coach and 2011 as General Manager). Bob Hanna retired from Whitby in 2013 ending his prolific career as a coach and general manager.

At the end of his coaching career, Bob Hanna ranked 3rd overall for the number of games coached in OLA Junior “”A” lacrosse.  He had a record of 321 games coached; 202 wins; 117 losses; and 2 ties for a winning percentage of .632. Just ahead of Bob Hanna is coach Jim Bishop having coached 564 games and a winning percentage of .767.

Bob Hanna was inducted into the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame in the Player category 1997 and the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1997 in the Builder category. In addition, he was awarded the Mr. Lacrosse Award (Thomas “Tip” Teather Award) in 2011 for outstanding service to the sport of lacrosse. Furthermore, Bob was honoured by the Ontario Lacrosse Association being designated a Life Member in 2013. An accomplished player, immensely successful coach, outstanding builder and mentor to many – Bob Hanna is truly a lacrosse legend.


The following interview regarding his coaching career was held with Bob Hanna in October of 2023

Coaching Questions:


1. How did you get started in coaching in lacrosse? 

My son was playing minor lacrosse and in my opinion the coaching was terrible. I felt I could do better. That was in 1980.

2. How soon in your coaching career, did you realize, I can be a goodcoach? 

Coaching Scarborough Midgets, won some tournaments, won the Midget “B” Canadian Championship in Montreal in 1981.

3. Who is the best team(s) you ever coached? 

There are two teams:

Scarborough Saints Junior “B” - 1985 Founders Cup Champions (37-0-1 including 14-0 in the playoffs).

We had five - 50 goal scorers on the team (Paul St. John, Mike O’Toole, Rob Hanna, Ed Robeznicks, Mark Harding);

Whitby Warriors 1999 Minto Cup Champions defeating Burnaby Laker 4-1.

The team was 35 wins and 3 losses; 1 loss in the regular season, one loss in the playoffs, one loss in the Minto Cup.

Roster included Gavin Prout, Marty O’Brien, A.J. Shannon, Steve Voituk and goaltender Gee Nash – the best passing goalie I ever coached.


(Photo from

4. Who is the best player(s) you ever coached? 

There are a few: Gavin Prout (being inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame this year), Derek Keenan, Kelly Mitchell, and goalie Gee Nash

5. Who is the toughest player(s) you ever coached? 

Scott McMichael (everyone including me, was afraid of Scotty)

6.The one player(s) you would definitely want on your team? 

Gavin Prout, Jack Bionda, Bobby Allan, Gaylord Powless and Glen Lotton

7. Name Bob Hanna’s personal All-Star team (players you coached) 

Gee Nash (G), Gavin Prout, Mike McKee, Curtis Knight, Derek Keenan, Kelly Mitchell

8. Who is the best coach(es) you ever coached against and the opposition coach you respect the most? 

Mark Vitarelli from Peterborough. He always had his teams well prepared and ready to compete.

9. What is it that made you the great coach you are? 

Dedication. Trying to motivate each player to do his best. (A) goal scorers to score; (B) other guys loose balls, passing and good defence; (C) getting players not to be selfish. The objective is to win, not how many goals you scored or points you get.

10. Any regrets over the years as a coach?

Sometimes I may have been too hard on the team and what I had to say to them as we where losing, but over-all I tried to be fair and open with all the players. Always tried to have some fun.

Let’s end the interview with two questions about box lacrosse at the highest levels of competition


1. Talk about Major Series Lacrosse vs. Junior A” Lacrosse 

I have not seen many major lacrosse games even in the recent past, but I would say that major players are more mature than Junior “A” players so they don’t make some of the mistakes the Junior “A” players make. Major lacrosse is not as fast as Junior “A”, but both are interesting and fun to watch.


2. Your thoughts on Major Series Lacrosse vs. the National Lacrosse League? 

These days, they tend to play similar style games (I think). A lot of outside shots and not many players cutting through the middle. There are a number of excellent players in both leagues. Some of the USA players have picked up the box game very well.