The significance of Pen High fielding its first field lacrosse team is described as “huge.”
“I think the kids are very excited. A lot of people behind the scenes have been doing a lot of work to help get it off the ground,” said Lakers coach Tony Ramsay, noting parents Pam MacDonald and Neil Jamieson were among the key people.
MacDonald, manager of the Lakers sponsored by Underwriter’s Insurance, said the significance comes down to scholarship opportunities. While the Lakers were in Victoria this past weekend for the Claremont Secondary Spartans Shootout, coaches from U.S. universities were watching. Ramsay said that scouts expressed interest in contacting the senior Lakers about opportunities.
“That is huge because that doesn’t happen in minor lacrosse,” said MacDonald.
It’s also significant because they are the only school in the Interior to have a team. The 24 high school teams in the province are in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. The initial challenge this season is with league play since there isn’t a league. MacDonald said for the first year they will play tournaments and will send a junior and senior team to provincials which is scheduled for Feb.27 to March 3, 2017. MacDonald said other schools and the B.C. Lacrosse Association have signed off on them being allowed to play exhibition games. The Lakers will automatically go to provincials because they do not fall under B.C. School Sports, which requires teams to qualify for provincials by playing in their respective zone championships. The different rules also allows the Lakers to bring on athletes from other schools. The Lakers have players from Princess Margaret and one from Summerland Secondary.
Planning to field the team began nearly two years ago when MacDonald spoke with Jamieson, who owns Underwriter’s Insurance, who introduced her to a school board member. MacDonald said Pen High was the big key in launching the team.
“They were very welcoming and gave us the green light. It wasn’t as difficult as it could have been,” she said.
CAIRO ROGERS OF the Pen High Lakers field lacrosse team flies by an opponent during the Spartans Shootout tournament hosted by Claremont Secondary in Victoria.
MacDonald met with a former school board trustee, who gave her advice and arranged a meeting for her between the Pen High administrators which included principal Alan Stel and athletics director Steve Grant.
Jamieson got involved because his son plays and he wants to provide a platform for kids to play five to six months a year instead of two.
“As a high school team we are able to do that. The feedback I’ve been getting from the kids is they are really enjoying it,” said Jamieson.
“I’m super excited. Me and the rest of my teammates have been wanting a high school team for I don’t know how long, since we got into high school,” said Kale Lawrence. “Now that it is finally happening, it’s pretty cool.”
The Lakers have been going since mid-October and practice in the Adidas SportsPlex. While playing in Victoria, the Lakers tied their first game against Mission, 8-8, lost to Vancouver College 9-8, lost to Nanaimo 10-5 and doubled up Interlake (Bellevue, Wash.) 8-4.
“One of the highlights of the trip was watching the Friday Night Lights feature game at the University of Victoria turf field between Claremont and Mercer Island of Seattle,” said Ramsay. “The speed at which Claremont executed their offense and covered Mercer Island on defence was amazing for the boys to see the high caliber of play.”
Ramsay said his players learned a lot from watching that game and now know where they need to get to. Ramsay said his team performed great.
“For the first time seeing them in action as a group, they learned from each game,” he said.
The Lakers received great defensive performances by Connor Ramage, Aidan Danby and Cairo Rogers. Offensively, Ben Olson, Beau Chetner, Nash Moog and Lawrence were strong.