Three years ago Kiana Casavant traded her soccer cleats for full upper body protection and a lacrosse stick.
The move has paid dividends.
She will be the lone player representing the Okanagan on Team B.C.’s under-20 team for the Canadian championship in Halifax in July.
The Grade 11 student from Pen High is also the youngest member of the team. While Casavant has never played on a provincial team before, it will also be the first time she plays lacrosse with females.
“I used to play soccer on an all-girls team and I kind of got fed up with it,” said Casavant, who plays lacrosse for the midget Heat. “Playing with boys is kind of fun. They treat you the same.”
Having said that, she is looking forward to playing with girls.
Casavant doesn’t know what role she will play as the provincial team has yet to practice. What the 16-year-old does know is that she is looking forward to meeting new friends and benefitting from the experience of a high-level coach. She is also just looking to gain valuable experience and seeing how she performs at a more competitive level.
Casavant’s interest in lacrosse started when she watched her friends. She decided to give it a try and attended a camp in Kelowna.
“It’s fast paced. I like to be able to hit people. You get a thrill from it,” she said with a smile.
With the Heat, Casavant is a defensive player who has developed the ability to contain the opposition near her net.
“There are a lot of guys that are quite a bit bigger, sometimes it is hard,” she said of the contact.
However, it’s that side of her skills that Casavant feels will give her an advantage against girls. During tryouts, she was knocking girls over without using the same strength needed to do the same with men.
“Being able to play with girls is going to be a big change for sure,” she said.
Casavant’s coach Dan VanOs described her as an intelligent player that reads and anticipates the play well.
“She is enthusiastic and one of my personal highlights as a coach was seeing her reaction when she scored a goal in bantam,” said VanOs. “She is very good defensively and has improved her offensive skills. She is extremely coachable and tries to implement in games what we work on in practice.”
VanOs said Casavant will benefit from being on Team B.C. as she will be playing with and against some of the best women’s players in this province and country.
“She will represent herself and Penticton Minor Lacrosse very well,” he said.”She is hardworking, dedicated and always trying to improve.”