The Kitchener Braves peewee 1 lacrosse team that features a healthy contingent from the townships took the bronze medal at the “Final Six” provincial A championships last weekend.
Emphasizing effort and team play was the goal of head coach Jeff Hunsberger.
“I just believe that you want to have kids with a high level of skill,” he said of his coaching style. “In a game that tends to get a little violent, I believe that speed and skill are the way to play the game. When played properly, it’s as pretty a sport as there is.”
The 2018 Lacrosse Association “A” Provincial Championship took place in Orangeville from July 27-29. The team was ranked fourth going into the championships and finished with the bronze medal.
Their first game was against the Oshawa Blue Knights, a team that ended up winning gold in the overall championship.
“We started off in a game against Oshawa, who ended up winning the gold. And they didn’t get a shot for the first ten minutes,” said Hunsberger. “But we completely outplayed them to the point where the coach said they were lucky to get the win. They got a few breaks and we didn’t, and we lost 5-3, and they went basically undefeated all season.”
However, the team managed to defeat the Oakville Hawks 5-4 later in the day, as well as winning 4-1 against the Guelph Regals. They were narrowly defeated by the Whitby Warriors 3-2 on Saturday.
“After every win, they sing John Denver’s Country Roads,” said Hunsberger. “Which is quite amusing, because every kid in the dressing room knows all the lyrics now. It’s fun to watch them. They’ll sing away with the music playing. If there’s a moment that stands out in my mind, it’s after they won the bronze medal in the dressing room, they all sang at the top of their lungs to
John Denver. Which is not something you see most 12-year-olds doing. They are a really fun group.”
“Our team has great chemistry,” added Alex Martin, a player on the Braves. “Everyone worked really well together.
The team gets picked in March, and practices two or three times a week. There are five kids on the team born in 2007 and two players who didn’t play lacrosse the previous year, making the Braves one of the youngest teams in the top-16.
“Three years ago, we got silver,” explained Trayvon Weinstein, a player on the Braves. “Two years ago we won, and this year we got bronze. So we have all three medals now.”
“Box lacrosse continues to grow in popularity for both boys and girls,” added Hunsberger. “It is a game with great off-season skill development for hockey players because of the passing and contact and is as good of a sweat as you will get playing any sport. Kids in the region can start playing at age 3 and continue to play into adulthood. Our one coach, Scott Tinning played for four years in the National Lacrosse League for the Edmonton Rush. Another one of our coaches, Rick Morton, played summer pro lacrosse for Peterborough as well as playing in the OHL. The KWMLA offers both rep and house league programs for kids of all ages.”
“One of the things our coach would always say before the game is ‘hard work beats talent,’” said Reed Straus, a player on the Braves.