A professional lacrosse player has started a summer lacrosse skills camp, hoping to grow the sport in Penticton.
“We’re open to anybody everybody, it’s a great compliment to hockey,” Garrett McIntosh said.
McIntosh got the idea to launch the camp while volunteering as a coach for some local youth teams earlier in the year. Some of the parents voiced the need for more year-round, high-calibre lacrosse coaching in Penticton and that’s when got the idea to launch his camps: OKGN Lacrosse.
McIntosh started playing Canada’s official national sport himself when he was only four-years-old in Coquitlam.
He would go on to play in Coquitlam for over 18 years, where he eventually won a Minto Cup with the Coquitlam Adanacs — the trophy awarded to the champion team of junior men’s box lacrosse in Canada.
His play in Coquitlam earned him a scholarship to play NCAA Division I lacrosse in Philadelphia at Drexel University. He has since played seven years of professional lacrosse in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) — five years with the Calgary Roughnecks and two years with the San Diego Seals. He’s now joined the Vancouver Warriors where he’ll play his eighth pro year next season.
McIntosh has spent summers in Naramata his entire life where his parents own a lake house. During the pandemic, he and his wife decided the spend their time with his parents in Naramata and ended up staying longer than planned.
“We thought we were only going to be here for two weeks, but it ended up being three months.” he said. “Shortly after that, my mom asked me to join and help grow her business here and that’s how we ended up out here.”
McIntosh has been impressed by the local lacrosse community in Penticton. He says there is an impressive amount of kids involved in the sport in Penticton for a community of its size.
“The lacrosse community is actually fairly big for the Interior, we have quite a few kids here,” he said. “COVID definitely slowed it down a bit but it’s been really good. There’s some really impressive talent out here and a lot of interest in the sport from some of the younger kids as well.
“It’s a great group of people too… I think if we can get some calibre coaching, hopefully I can help out with that, we can make it a really good association out here.”
Right now, the kids in OKGN Lacrosse camps also play on teams in the local youth lacrosse association and attend the the camps as extra practice every Friday night on the field at Kings Park.
Finding time to book an arena without ice in Penticton to practice in a traditional indoor box lacrosse environment is not an easy task, McIntosh explained. “It’s really tough with the Penticton Hockey School, they take up a lot of arena space going all summer,” he said.
There’s only two arenas in Penticton that actually remove the ice in the summer and it’s not for long. Many kids travel to Summerland and Oliver to practice with their local teams due to lack of arena availability in Penticton.
McIntosh will have his camps throughout the summer so kids can continue to improve their skills even after their team’s seasons have ended.
OKGN Lacrosse camps are open to boys and girls. The first camp consisted of 27 registered kids ranging in age from seven to 16.
“It’s actually a lot more than I was expecting, It was awesome to see such a good turn out” said McIntosh.
McIntosh hopes OKGN Lacrosse camps will help kids nail down the basics of lacrosse and improve their overall skill-sets.
“We’ll also work on game-play, game IQ and strategy to try to give these kids the best possible chance to move forward and up as they continue in the sport,” he said.
McIntosh’s camps are split into groups depending on ability levels and are open to all ability levels and ages, even those brand new to the sport.
For information on enrolment email email@example.com.