Lacrosse coach Don Larson receives Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee medal

Better known by his players as ‘Calm Don’ for his easy-going demeanour behind the bench, Don Larson has accomplished plenty in 23 years of coaching lacrosse in Regina and surrounding area.

“The success I’ve had is a credit to the athletes that I’ve been able to coach,” he said.

Larson has been coaching lacrosse since 1999, working with more than 65 teams and 1,100 athletes over that span. And this past week, he was recognized for his dedication to the sport, as a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal.

“I’m just extremely honoured and humbled,” said Larson. “You never get into coaching thinking that you’re going to be the recipient of quite a prestigious award.”

The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal celebrates the 70th anniversary year of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Accession to the Throne, which began on February 6, 2022. A total of 7,000 medals will be awarded at ceremonies held throughout the province, to individuals who have made a significant contribution to Canada, Saskatchewan or a particular community. Larson received his medal at Government House in Regina on Dec. 13, not too far from where he was raised.

“We used to ride our bikes to Government House thinking it was a palace,” said Larson. “To be coming back to get a platinum medal from basically right where I grew up and learned the game, it’s just like it came full circle.”

Like many others, Larson got his start in coaching when his son and daughter first started playing. And even after Larson’s kids moved on from playing at the minor level, he stayed involved.

“There was just no other coaches,” he said. “I ended up taking another one or two teams in a year, so I ended up coaching four different teams at all different levels just so kids could play.

“I just wanted to make sure everybody had a coach.”

Since his humble beginnings as a coach, Larson’s teams have gone on to win nine provincial titles, a Saskatchewan Summer Games gold medal, a Tony Cote Summer Games gold medal and a North American Indigenous Games silver medal. His motivation for coaching stems from something he would have liked to have when he was learning the game in the early 1970s.

“I want to be the coach I wish I had,” said Larson. “There was just never any coaches and the coaches that were around were usually at the higher level and didn’t want to be involved with the grassroots part of coaching.

“A lot of us kids at that time were just left out.”

Not only has Larson been heavily involved in minor lacrosse in Regina, he also played a major role in developing the Standing Buffalo Lacrosse Association on the Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation. And he has inspired others like his son Dallan and daughter Taryn to get involved as coaches and referees in the sport. In fact, Taryn not only started the all-female Queens Lacrosse program, but she also coached at the Canada Games this past summer with Team Saskatchewan.

“It’s kind of our family thing, building lacrosse in the city,” said Larson.

And while the championships and successes had on the court will always be career highlights for any coach, Larson believes his biggest impact has been off the court, where lessons extend beyond sport.

“It’s much more than just coaching lacrosse,” said Larson. “I’ve done everything from teach them discipline to even how to shake hands.

“It’s life skills and everything else that falls under that.

More information on the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal