A strong core leads the Pen High Lakers boys rugby team into a new Okanagan Valley 3A season.
The Lakers open their six-game schedule in a four-team league against Okanagan Mission Huskies on April 11 at McNicoll Park. Kelowna and Salmon Arm are the other teams. Lakers coach Ken Sommerfeldt said the goal is to place second. He added it is a bit unrealistic to win the league as the Kelowna Secondary Owls are usually strong.
“They’ve got very experienced players and they’re not getting the bodies out that they used to, but I still expect them to be very strong,” he said.
The Huskies are a new team as the school hasn’t fielded a program in about five years.
With more returning players, there is continuity in the program, with older, stronger players. The Lakers will be strong in the backfield with Dante Kilian. Sommerfeldt said Kilian will have to take on a strong role, though that shouldn’t be too heavy on his shoulders since he has done that over the years. Another player being counted on is Braden Jones in the forward group.
“I’m really not worried about the forwards,” he said.
One player the Lakers will be without to start is D.J. Warkentin, who is expected to miss time due to a broken wrist.
Lakers girls take on Bears
The Lakers open the Okanagan Zone 3A rugby season at McNicoll Park Wednesday at 4 p.m. against the Mt. Boucherie Bears.
Coach Patricia Collins has experienced players to work with, including some who have played in provincials. However, she also has new players who became interested and inspired from seeing the sport in last year’s summer Olympics. Collins believes she has a solid group of 25.
“Unfortunately our practice/development was delayed due to weather and as such the girls committed to practices over the spring break as well to prepare for the game,” she said.
The Lakers will be led by seasoned Grade 12’s Shantelle Bishop, Lenaic Madwon and Chloe Jones among others.
“The strength of the team is sportsmanship, a willingness to persevere to find success and incorporate direction/feedback from coaches,” said Collins.
The goals for the team is for the players to enjoy the sport said Collins. She added that she and the other coaches want the players to be inspired to try their best and to participate fully and have a healthy season.
“The game of rugby is incredibly confident building for young women,” she said. “It improves their leadership skills, understanding of balance between commitments, and formulates a new perspective on bonding with a team.”
The Lakers other games are April 12 at home against Kelowna, April 19 at home against NorKam, then they travel to South Kamloops on April 24 and to Salmon Arm on April 27. The opening round of the playoffs begin on May 3, with the second round on May 10.