After a brain injury this lacrosse legend keeps setting goals
Walking to his car one night, a stranger approached Wayne Goss, stopped him and asked, ‘Excuse me sir, but should you be driving?’
The man was insinuating Wayne had been drinking. But the stumbling the stranger observed was the result of a brain injury Wayne suffered in 1982.
He didn’t get mad at the man but the incident bothered him.
It was one of those incorrect impressions people have where you’d like to take them aside and explain things.
Like how he could have died from the injury. And when he did survive a doctor said he would never walk.
Or that he was once a legendary lacrosse player who was so swift and agile that he ran circles around opponents.
This is Wayne’s world. His name still fills the lacrosse record book, yet those who don’t know him only see his off-balanced walk and hear his slurred speech.
But those closest to Wayne realize he still has an unbeatable spirit, which pushed him to be one of the best in box lacrosse. Later it made him get out of his hospital bed into a wheelchair, then crutches to canes and finally walking on his own.
This week we met Wayne at Queen’s Park where he’d driven his mini-van and chatted about what life is like now for the 60-year-old. He’s one of those people who sees problems as challenges, waiting to be overcome.
“Even now, 25 years later, I’m still setting goals for myself,” says Wayne.
One of the latest goals he’s achieved is walking from Westminster Quay to Central Park, a distance of 10 kilometres.
“I did that after a number of tries. But I did it.”
Queen’s Park Arena is the the home of his lacrosse glory days. So we walked inside to have a look at the lacrosse wall of fame. On the wall is a photo and plaque honouring Wayne.
If you go to the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame you’ll find similar photos and plaques.
They say things like how Wayne held 41 scoring and face-off records and shared four more in the Western Lacrosse Association when he retired. How he averaged four points a game during his 14 seasons, was the rookie of the year and the league’s most valuable player during the season four times, three times in the playoffs and won five Mann Cups with his New Westminster Salmonbellies.
What those honours don’t describe is his competitive drive.
When faced with a challenge, like being double-teamed or the target of opposing team’s enforcer, he responded by pushing himself to get better.
“I’m a stubborn sort of guy. So if anyone got the best of me I was stubborn enough to work hard and get better,” says Wayne. “I wanted to beat who ever it was that was trying to stop me.”
That spirit came in handy in 1982 when he fell 10 metres off the roof of a cabin he was helping to build. He suffered a brain stem injury that affects his speech and motor skills.
“My stubbornness and competitive spirit helped me big time,” says Wayne.
“When I got out of (rehabilitation) I could hardly walk. And just because I’m stubborn and wanted to do good I made myself walk.
“That’s the way I’ve always been.”