It’s a sport steeped in North America’s indigenous history that’s lent the physicality, strategy and action fans see today in everything from basketball to soccer to hockey, and it’s national championships are coming to Kelowna.
Parkinson Rec Centre and City Park are hosting the Canadian Lacrosse Association’s under-15 and under-18 championships Aug. 30 to Sept. 1, the Kelowna Minor Lacrosse Association announced Thursday.
Kelowna’s Doug Deschner, a former Team B.C. coach, said field lacrosse will surprise anyone who hasn’t see it live before.
Deschner started playing the sport at six years old and was one of Western Canada’s first scholarship athletes to a Div. 1 American college (University of Baltimore).
“It was the quickness of the game” that captured his imagination, he said. “The strategy. The scoring — I loved to score goals — and just really the physical aspects of it all.”
The weekend will showcase some of the best field lacrosse players in Canada competing for the Alumni Cup and First Nations Trophy.
Teams will be travelling from Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Alberta to compete against Team B.C. Many of these athletes will move on to play lacrosse at university and college, as well as professionally in both the National Lacrosse League and the Premier Lacrosse League.
Roughly 200 players will compete. Ontario is sending two teams, and should challenge for gold.
“Ontario is always very strong,” Deschner said. “And the B.C. teams are always, typically, very strong.”
The game is played on a field about the size of a soccer pitch. There are 10 players per team—three attackers, three midfielders and three defenders, plus a goalie.
If you think hockey goalies are brave, field lacrosse goalies wear only helmets, chest protectors and gloves in front of a six-by-six net.
Deschner said the strategy is similar to basketball, with plenty of cutting to the net, inside shots, outside shots and a transition game that often starts with a pass from the goaltenders.
Although Team B.C. does not have any Okanagan players, Deschner said the valley has produced many notable athletes in the past. Kelowna athletes Kurt Deschner (Elizabethtown), Ryan Sage (Mars Hill), Tristan Parece (Calvin College), Nick Alcorn (SFU), Quinn Stanhope (Canisius College) and James Alexander (Maryville) have all gone on to play university lacrosse.
The Okanagan is experiencing a surge in registration, with over 275 children playing lacrosse, Deschner said.
Field lacrosse is a sport that was first played by First Nations communities across North America. The Kelowna association is honouring this by awarding the all-star awards in each division a copy of Lacrosse: The Ancient Game. This hardcopy book profiles the history of lacrosse, and is written by James Calder.
The local field lacrosse season starts at the beginning of September, and registration spots are still available.
Visit kelownalacrosse.ca for details.