Lacrosse is a game that pretty much flies under the radar in Sackville as it serves as a transitional sport between the conclusion of hockey and basketball and the beginning of soccer and baseball, usually lasting about 10 weeks at most. This even though it is Canada's national sport.
But while the sport has a short seasonal span around here, few realize that no less than six boys from the Sackville Lacrosse Association were chosen to play for provincial teams last year in the national championships in Welland, Ont.
The four who were members of the national bronze medal winning midget team included Joe Kay, Destin Zoellner, Liam MacDougall and Zach Bowles.
The two young men playing on the provincial peewee team were Michael Alder and Jax Wells and they helped the team win a silver medal. Both teams played in the B division in Welland and acquitted themselves very well.
Coach Dave Arsenault of Saint John, who led the midgets to the final tournament, said he was pleased with the contribution of the players from Tantramar who made the team.
"They improved with tremendous strides throughout the season and were a major reason for the team being so successful,” he noted. "For example, Zac Bowles was a first year midget player yet has incredible quickness and reads the floor very well. In the bronze medal game he scored one of the prettiest goals of the week when he shot across the floor and grabbed a rebound and put it in the net before the goalie and the defense even reacted to the loose ball. Everyone, including the referee, just stood there for a full two seconds before they realized what Zac just did. I am looking forward to seeing Zac return next year and some of the other players from Tantramar who I have watched play this year."
Bowles, just 14, has been playing the game for the past four years and said his time in Whitby was a busy one as they played two games a day for three days and he seldom was off the floor. Each boy was expected to raise upwards of $2,000 to help cover the cost of the trip and, on top of that, practices were held in Saint John, Moncton and Sackville, which meant considerable driving.
Next year the finals will be held in New Westminister, B.C., and Zac is already looking forward to the experience. Meanwhile, he is currently a member of the Tantramar Titans football team, so he keeps rather busy.
Michael Alder was with the team based in Saint John, which meant even more traveling, but he felt playing with the provincial team was educational and fun. He, as well as Zac, believes they learned a good deal as they faced competition like never before.
All the players were housed in dormitories on the campus of Durham College in Welland.
Meanwhile, Michael's mother, Wendy, described it as a "chance of a lifetime" for her son even though it meant a big commitment of time and resources by the parents. One of the better parts for her son was being billeted in Saint John by parents of other players when they were holding tryouts and practices in preparation for the nationals.
Tantramar association president John Higham said a few others were offered an opportunity to try out for the provincial teams but for one reason or another declined the offer but mainly because it meant a huge commitment of time and resources.
Higham said that unlike other sports in Tantramar, lacrosse enjoyed a growth in numbers last season with more than 70 boys and girls registered.
During the annual general meeting Higham was returned as president and will have Shane Caroll as treasurer, Robert Wells as secretary and Damien Monk, Kevin Estabrooks and Jeff Tower as members at large.
Due to a 25 per cent increase in rental fees at the civic centre, the association will be seeking more assistance. Last season it cost just over $14,000 to operate, resulting in a $900 deficit. Floor rental, alone, came to nearly $6,000.
Registration fees – $100 for new players and $150 for returnees – generated nearly $8400 in revenue. It was agreed that it is important to hold the line on fees and so other sources of revenue must be found.
Efforts will continue to develop the field game, which would be less costly, eliminating rental fees but there isn't much available for field use at the present.
Next year it is planned to participate in the Codiac League as well as enter four major tournaments – two in PEI and one each in Saint John and Moncton.