Down Memory Lane - Mike Gates
Down Memory Lane Articles - by Stan Shillington
Long before the hinges were oiled at the Gait Twins, another portal dominated the wonderful world of lacrosse - bandy-legged .
Often called "Pearly Gates, the Equilibrium Kid", Mike appeared as unsteady on his feet as a newborn deer on ice. But, somehow, he managed to keep his balance and retain possession of the ball. Standing on your head to score a goal was often easier than some of the awkward positions in which Mike popped a good many of his 504 goals.
Mike received his introduction to lacrosse from , the legendary Port Coquitlam sportsman, between 1950 and 1957. He began a three-year tour of duty with the New Westminster Junior Salmonbellies in 1958, leading his new team to three league championships, two Western Canadian titles and the 1960 Minto Cup. Twice he topped the Junior League in scoring.Gates turned senior with the 'Bellies in 1961, winning the Calder Rookie of the Year award and, the following year, a Mann Cup ring. But Michael wasn't truly happy. He thrived on floor-time, taking regular shifts, leading the power play and killing penalties. However, New Westminster boasted the likes of , , , and ; Mike just had to wait his turn.
That "turn" which kicked his career into overdrive came in 1965 with the formation of the Coquitlam Adanacs. A longtime resident of nearby Port Coquitlam and an employee of the Coquitlam Parks Board, Mike was going back to friendly home territory.
His new coach, , immediately switched Mike from a forward to a defenceman to take full advantage of his natural play-making ability and his unorthodox but highly effective defensive play. And Mike was given, rather, he earned, his 30 to 40 minutes of floor time each game. He thrived on his new responsibilities.
In the subsequent seven seasons with the Adanacs (six in Coquitlam and one in Portland), Mike was a League All-Star seven times, topped the scoring race three times, took the League MVP title twice and the Maitland Trophy once.
But Mike took equal pride, if not more, in his reputation as an Ironman. He still holds the League record for points scored in consecutive games - 93 games between May 4, 1967 and July 5, 1969. In fact, Mike only missed 13 games in a career that spanned 427 matches over 11 seasons. It was ironic then that a badly fractured leg during a soccer game in March 1972 cut short his lacrosse life at 504 goals and 609 assists for 1,113 points.
Mike wasn't able to play again but he certainly wasn't finished with the game he loved. He took to coaching a PeeWee team and served a term as the President of the Pt. Coquitlam Minor Lacrosse Association, working with his old mentor . He then coached the senior Adanacs in 1975 and part of 1976 and co-coached the Coquitlam J-Hawks Junior team in 1976 and 1977.
The energetic Michael then sought and won a new roll in community service. He was elected to the Pt. Coquitlam City Council, an office he has retained for over twenty years.
Fifty-nine years of age on July 8, 1998, Mike was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1977.