Royal Bay Secondary school’s boys’ and girls’ lacrosse academies have seen a boom in enrolment and show no signs of slowing down.
In the past two years since the boys’ academy began, it has grown from 17 junior and senior athletes to 85. While the majority of students are from the West Shore, a few come down from the Cowichan Valley as well.
Academy director and head coach Lucas MacNeil said the West Shore is a hot bed for lacrosse, much of which can be attributed to the success of the Victoria Shamrocks. “It’s just booming out here. It’s the fastest or second fastest growing lacrosse community in the province and when you look at Royal Bay and the facilities that we have, why wouldn’t you want to come here?” said MacNeil, adding students between grades 9 and 12 earn credits for the class, during which they learn on-field skill development, off-field strength and conditional, sports psychology and nutrition. “We just try and get these kids to play as many games as they can.”
The junior and senior squads have seen success in recent months, competing in tournaments in Seattle. In December, the seniors went 3-1 and the juniors lost in the semi-finals of a Seattle tourney. Locally, the junior and senior teams competed in the Spartan Shootout at Claremont Secondary, when the juniors went undefeated and the seniors went 2-2.
“The progress is there and the kids are starting to see what the outcome is of their effort and energy during the class,” said MacNeil, adding the academy gives players the opportunity to travel as well. “Traveling is a big part of learning. When you travel, you learn how to behave, you learn how to conduct yourself with you’re representing a school and a school district.”
Thanks for coming out today @GoldstreamNews! This is the result of the kids hard work and how much the community supports its youth. So incredible! I love this place! #Lacrosse @SD62_Sooke #Colwood #Langford #Westshore pic.twitter.com/xEuBEPseUo
— Gordie Logan (@GordieLogan) January 7, 2018
Luc Gagnon, a Grade 9 student at Royal Bay, said he’s learned a lot during his last five months with the academy. “I love lacrosse and it’s a great academy. There’s great people to play with, a great coach,” said Gagnon, who also plays field lacrosse with the Victoria Titans and the West Shore Whalers. “You learn passing and catching and a lot of team play, what matters to the whole team and the importance of commitment to a team.”
For those interested in getting to know more about the program, Royal Bay is hosting an info night on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. Registration for the academy begins on Feb. 1 at 6 a.m.
Royal Bay’s girls’ lacrosse academy – one of the first of its kind in Canada – is also seeing success in its first year. Fifteen girls have registered for the academy and are “excited and eager” to learn and grow the game at the school and within the community, said academy teacher, co-ordinator and coach, David Sundher.
“We’re excited to develop our skills not only as individuals but also as a team, and maybe even some day send some athletes to post-secondary institutions in Canada and the U.S. to not only continue their education but also play women’s lacrosse,” he said, noting girls of all skill levels are welcome and will learn under a former Team Canada player.
Anyone interested in joining the girls’ academy can contact Sundher via email at email@example.com.