Paige, Avery and Abbey Sutton were in Palm Springs for the Jan. 13 to 14 girls’ field lacrosse tournament. They’re bringing the experience they gained back to Royal Bay and hope to take the entire team to the tournament next year.(Contributed photo)

Royal Bay girls’ lacrosse academy set to soar

Three team members travel to California for tournament

The first girls’ field lacrosse academy in B.C. came into being in September of 2017 with organizers stating at the time that the program would require 30 girls to register in order for the program to proceed.

But despite the fact that registration has fallen well short of that number, organizers and the coach of the academy are certain the program will ultimately be the success they envisioned when they first promoted the concept to the school division.

Catherine Kozina, who was one of the forces behind the girls’ academy, and whose own son plays for the boys’ lacrosse academy, isn’t discouraged by the numbers, and was adamant that the numbers will increase dramatically as the young women at Royal Bay Secondary become more familiar with the program.

“We have about 17 girls involved but we know that number is going to continue to grow. It’s a new concept at the school and a lot of the girls involved have never played lacrosse before. But we’re finding that they really love it and the word is spreading,” Kozina said.

RELATED: Girls field lacrosse academy likely coming to Royal Bay

Dean Sutton, one of the other initiators of the program, agreed with Kozina’s assessment.

“Both my daughters and my niece all play for the academy. They have actually already played (with other teams) right across North America and, as a result, I’ve developed contacts to get them (the academy) places to play,” Sutton said.

“And once the girls learn the game, it’s possible for them to get involved with other teams in order to travel and play away from home.”

Sutton explained that earlier this month, his daughter Paige played for Team B.C. and the other two girls, his daughter Avery and his niece, Abbey played for a team out of Pittsburgh called Intrepid as they attended a tournament in Palm Beach.

“Intrepid did very well, going for four wins and one loss in the tournament. They didn’t manage to win their pool as, in their final game, they lost to another team with four wins and got knocked out, but it was a tremendous game,” Sutton said.

Team B.C. made a good showing with two wins and three losses, Sutton said, and despite the outcomes, all three girls gained a lot of experience that they’ll bring back to Royal Bay and make the team stronger than ever.

“It’s this sort of opportunity that will be open to the players in the Academy, and it’s possible that they may want to enter as a team in the foreseeable future,” he said. “We’ll be gearing up for a game against Claremont, then playing some teams from Vancouver and we’re trying to line up games against high school teams from Washington State.”

Coach Naomi Walser spoke of the girl’s initial game against Claremont High last November, and described how Royal Bay’s team showed a great deal of competitiveness against their more experienced opponent.

“It’s important for us to get a chance to play other teams and learn from the experience. I’m looking at taking the whole team to the Sandstorm tournament in California next year which would be a great opportunity. They have about 60 fields there and the competition is amazing,” she said.

RELATED: Royal Bay lacrosse academies growing

David Sundher, another of the team’s coaches and a teacher at Royal Bay Secondary School, acknowledged that the number of girls registered for the program remains as their most challenging hurdle.

“There are a lot of girls playing hockey and soccer and other sports, but it’s going to take a little time to build up the numbers. But I know that lacrosse is growing all across North America and we’ll get there in the near future,” Sundher said. “I can see a time in the near future where the academy could be fielding three or four teams.”

Anyone interested in getting more information on the program is invited to contact David Sundher by email at dsundher@sd62.bc.ca or call Royal Bay directly.


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