The West Shore has become a hotbed for minor lacrosse over the years, with professional players joining the coaching ranks and teams in all age brackets racking up provincial medals.
So it should come as no surprise that Juan de Fuca Whaler players have been regularly earning spots on Team B.C., which sends teams annually to the Canadian Lacrosse Association’s national championship tournament.
This year the national pee wee, bantam and midget divisions will be contested in Coquitlam and New Westminster from Aug. 4 to 9.
Eight Juan de Fuca athletes will compete for B.C. in those categories, including Jacob Obee and Adam Bland in pee wee; Connor Wilson, Brandon McClintick, Ryan Atkinson and Nick Coleman in bantam and Jake Campbell and Jack Kendall in midget.
Some have had the experience before and others are suiting up for their province for the first time.
Bantam goalie Atkinson is one of the veterans, having made the 2012 pee wee box team and being picked this year for the under-14 squad in field lacrosse. He feels privileged to be a part of another Team B.C.
“The hard work, determination and dedication it takes to earn one of the few spots available to represent your province at a national level is extremely special, not only on the floor, but off the floor as well,” he says. “We will make lifelong friends and connections that we might not otherwise have the chance to make.”
First-time provincial teamer Obee is excited about the opportunity to boost his skill level.
“It is very special and I have practised long and hard to get to this stage,” he says. “I’ve enjoyed every part of it – meeting the coaches and all the new kids.”
Fellow Team B.C. rookie McClintick is making the most of his chance to shine, having been cut in the first round of tryout in his previous attempt.
“I’ve learned a lot from the coaches during the Team B.C. practices,” he says. “It is definitely a really high level of play. I’m really enjoying this experience so far, as it’s making me push myself to my full potential. It’s a challenge which helps me play harder.”
Bland, another first-time Team B.C. player, and Wilson, who made the cut in field lacrosse last year, agree that being exposed to different coaches and a high level of players is going to help them down the road with their skills. Wilson says he’s already learning new things and improving his play.
Coleman, another U14 team member in field lacrosse this season, likes the fact his hard work has been rewarded with a berth on the team. He looks forward to rubbing shoulders with the best in the country for his age group and hopes to beef up his offensive skills in the process.
Campbell, a second-time Team B.C.er, says it’s been a great experience overall.
“My coach, Curt Malawsky, who also coaches the Calgary Roughnecks, is very intense yet experienced,” he says.
“It’s great to have the opportunity to play on a team with such a high level of coaching. I feel the level of coaching and the caliber of play will motivate me to be the best player I can be.”