Ryan Kozina

Ryan Kozina

Girls field lacrosse academy likely coming to Royal Bay

Proposal to add program will move forward if 30 or more girls sign up

There’s a good chance girls who choose to follow in the footsteps of future Lindenwood University lacrosse player Paige Sutton will have an easier path towards success.

In response to a proposal by Paige and her father, Dean, and the efforts of lacrosse parent Cathy Kozina, Royal Bay secondary is moving forward with a plan to add a girls field lacrosse academy, the first of its kind in B.C., to go along with its boys program.

The academy will begin this fall, provided there is enough interest. “With girls field lacrosse growing and growing, this is just awesome to help it grow even more,” Kozina said.

According to Royal Bay vice-principal Mike Huck, 30 students will be needed for the academy to go ahead in September.

The idea for an academy came after discussions between the Suttons and Kozina on the sidelines at a lacrosse practice.

At that time Kozina, whose daughter will attend Royal Bay next year and plans to enrol in the lacrosse academy, had already gathered a list of interested girls.

Dean, as well as Paige, who recently accepted a full scholarship to play NCAA lacrosse for Lindenwood, eventually put together a proposal that highlighted the growing popularity of the sport. They met with Royal Bay administrators to get a sense of how they could make it a reality. The entire process came together quickly from there and the Suttons presented their proposal at the Sooke School District’s academy information night on Jan. 19 at Belmont secondary.

“The questions weren’t about ‘will it go or won’t it go’, people were already in … which was very positive feedback from the community,” Dean said, adding that he’d like to see 40 to 45 girls signed up. “I think we can hit that mark with a little bit of promotion and getting it out there. It’s not well known yet.”

Information sessions will take place at Royal Bay’s feeder schools in the near future.

For Huck, the opportunity to establish an athletic academy for girls was a key part of his school’s interest. “Girls lacrosse is a fast growing sport in the community … it’s a win-win for the girls and the school,” he said.

Beyond the scope of athletics, Huck sees numerous benefits for those who end up in academies. “Academies teach kids about responsibility, community and ethics. For me, the academy is more of a character builder program as much as it is a sports program.”

While it’s unlikely Paige Sutton will get a chance to enrol in the program for her Grade 12 year because she’s in French immersion at Belmont, she’s happy for the girls who will get a chance to sign up.

“I’m extremely excited for the growth of the game and the opportunity this opens up for so many of the other girls that don’t have as much (chance) to play lacrosse outside of a weekly practice,” she said.

More information on the academy will be available on Jan. 31 when Royal Bay hosts its own academy information night.