GEORGE "JEEP" WOOLLEY
In 1945, George “Jeep” Woolley’s family moved from the North End of Winnipeg to Deer Lodge. It is here where Jeep’s life long passion for lacrosse began.
When Woolley arrived at the out door box at Deer Lodge Community Centre, he met Tom O’Brien who handed him a lacrosse stick and guided him into the game of lacrosse. Under O’Brien’s leadership, Woolley developed into a reliable defender who had a knack for scoring. He described his best moving as “faking high left and when the goalie reacted, I would shoot high right”. The move must have worked as Jeep was a one of the top scorers on every team he played.
Playing at a well-coached and organized Deer Lodge program benefitted Jeep’s development. Playing with the Lodgers Jeep captured Bantam A (1945), Midget (1946), and Juvenile titles (1947).
In 1950, he started playing with the Deer Lodge Senior team, as a junior aged player. Playing with Don Leitch, the duo was an asset on the defensive side of the floor, while being a constant threat on offense. While being a stalwart on defense, Jeep maintained his scoring touch, finishing in the top 10 scores twice in the senior loop. Each time Woolley had nearly the same amount of goals as assists. Jeep was a finisher and a playmaker, who also did a very good job at the defensive end of the rink.
In 1951, George was selected to play for the Wellington junior team. Playing with his Deer Lodge teammates, Ron Arklie, Don Leitch, Jim Palmer, Bill Welligan, and Ernie Gaudreau, Woolley had his most successful season. This quality of play led to Jeep being selected to play for the Manitoba Junior All Stars in the Minto Cup playoffs.
On his selection to the team the Winnipeg Tribune described Woolley: “Another first year player on the (all star) team. He was one of the better defensemen in the local league this year”.
Playing for the 1951 Manitoba All team was the high point of Woolley’s career. In the Western Play Downs against BC representatives the underdog Manitoba squad defeated the BC team, two games to one in a best of three series, In the first two games of the series the Winnipeg Tribune described Woolley’s play: “tremendous a on defense, while scoring a “key goal on a solo effort in the second game”. In the third game of the series, Jeep assisted on the game tying power play goal. This goal sparked a Manitoba offensive push that led to a 10- 9 victory for the underdogs.
In the Minto Cup Finals, the road weary, over matched young Manitoba team fell three games straight to the powerful Mimico squad. After the 1951 season, Jeep played a couple more seasons of senior lacrosse before moving to Alberta with his job. At that time there was no lacrosse in Alberta.
After four years in Alberta, Woolley returned to Manitoba. Though he did not play lacrosse again in Manitoba, Jeep continued to be a supporter of the game sponsoring the St. Boniface Clubs and Elmwood Clubbers. Today, Jeep is an active member of the Manitoba Lacrosse Alumni and the Manitoba Lacrosse Hall of Fame.