A sea of pink shirts filled Elmira over the weekend as 49 girls’ lacrosse teams competed in the LAX Angels tournament, one of only two girls lacrosse tourneys in Ontario.And the province was well represented, with teams coming from every direction, from Wallaceburg to Whitby – even Thunder Bay.
“Two teams actually from Thunder Bay and they were tremendously gracious and happy to come. They had an absolutely amazing time,” said Kitchener-Waterloo Minor Lacrosse Association Secretary, Kevin Schmitt.
The teams competed at the Woolwich Memorial Centre and the Albert McCormick Arena in Waterloo from Friday to Sunday. The other tournament is in Peterborough at the end of June, but there won’t be as many teams. Teams must compete in at least one to be eligible for provincials in August, which are being held in Whitby this year. There will be 500 teams of both boys and girls, and all ages.
“For whatever reason, this worked around a lot of their schedules, perhaps the time of year: teams are rolling, they’d like to play some games,” Schmitt said.
Some teams only brought their best players, while the Kitchener-Waterloo teams – who have many Woolwich players – made two teams at the peewee and novice levels to let everyone have the chance to play.
As for why teams came great distances to compete, he says it’s all about the opportunity to play.
“They don’t have a lot of people to play up there. And the competition that was here, the number of teams that came,” Schmitt said.
He notes the feedback from players, coaches, and parents has been positive. They’d love to host the tournament again, but it usually moves around from year to year.
“I didn’t hear one bad thing from any of the teams including the reffing,” Schmitt said. “They said all the reffing was incredibly fair and even, which doesn’t always happen. Between venues, reffing and the competition it was good.”
Aside from the novice and peewee teams, he says a lot of the scores were fairly close, which made for fun games to watch. He adds the Sunday morning game between Whitby and Centre Wellington was a great game to watch, as they were the top two teams in the intermediate A pool.
Just as in girls hockey, girls lacrosse is on the rise in Ontario. They’ve started a house league for field lacrosse for the U11 girls because there are so many girls who want to play. They also started a team for seven and under, called the little Laxers. Field lacrosse doesn’t have hitting at a young age, unlike box lacrosse which does.
“It’s a vertical that’s happening with girls as in girls hockey, both are growing immensely as a sport for them. The challenge that comes is volunteers to organize it,” Schmitt said.
And they’re not alone in that. The lacrosse centres in the province, like Peterborough, are seeing huge strides in the sport. But they’ve still got to compete with other sports.
“Some parents don’t want to be in the arena for whatever reason in the summer,” Schmitt said. “It is a great compliment to any hockey or ringette girls that play that. The hand eye coordination is incredible.”
He notes most big-time NHLers played some lacrosse growing up, including Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby.
While the Kitchener-Waterloo teams may not have come out on top at this tournament, that’s not important.
“They were as young as seven and as old as 21 and the camaraderie around it, it was about the game. You’d have the sevens come up to the 21s and they were in awe of these girls who were older,” Schmitt said. “It was amazing to see.”