The KW Braves All-Star Tyke lacrosse team won the gold medal at the Ontario Lacrosse Association provincials in the B division. The win came as a bit of a surprise for both the players and coaches alike.
“There are 16 teams in our grouping, and we were rated 11 out of 16,” explained Mark Tinning, head coach of the Braves. “So when you’re ranked the 11th team, people are not expecting you to come away with the championship.”
Against the odds, the team managed to step it up and won every single game at the Ontario Lacrosse Festival in Whitby. More than 70 Tyke teams competed in this event which ran from August 5-7. In their nail-biting final game, they narrowly beat out the Barrie Bombers with a score of 7-6.
“We didn’t think that our team could perform their best during the weekend,” admitted Tinning. “It was just… we hadn’t seen them at their best this year. And that sort of peak-at-the-right-time is what you want as a coach; it’s what you want as a team. And putting those puzzle pieces together at the right time really created some memories that are going to last a lifetime.”
Players from the Braves come from all across the region, including two players from Elmira, one from St. Clements, as well as players from Kitchener, Waterloo and Baden. Tinning credits their win to their intense grit and determination of the team members.
“Our tenacity and our grit was something to be proud of,” said Tinning. “For kids that age to work as hard as they did, it made our coaching staff extremely proud.”
He recalls a proud moment beating out the Milton Mavericks when it counted in the provincial championship, as the Braves had lost consistently to the team throughout the season.
“We lost to them four times this year, three of those games were by one goal,” said Tinning. “And we out-battled them and outworked them, and we got that first win, game five at the right time. Then we went into that semi-final on a Tuesday morning against New Tecumseh. We went in, and we just were determined. There was no way we weren’t winning that lacrosse game. Our work ethic and our grit really came through. The boys weren’t backing down.”
Tinning described their success throughout the weekend as a snowball effect, where one win motivated the next, and then the next, and so on.
“If we didn’t win the first game of the tournament, we probably wouldn’t have the success we did,” said Tinning. “And then we won the second game. Then we got the job done on the third, then fourth. By the time we finished on Tuesday, we had accomplished all the goals we wanted. Our success was a snowball effect.”
The gold medal win was a particularly proud moment for team manager Stefanie Mavin, mother of St. Clements player Liam Mavin.
“Winning the gold at a tyke B level, this is the second time this has ever happened since, like, 1962,” she said. “They won once at an A level, a few times at a C level. So this is like the second time … that they won at a tyke B level. The only other time was in 2011. This is an impressive group of 7-8 year-olds, and if you look at the past winners, you’ll see this isn’t something that happens very often.”
Tinning hopes that this will bring more attention to the organization’s hard work and the game of lacrosse.
“It’s good for the organization, it’s good for the game of lacrosse, and it’s good because these kids might be motivated to play another year,” said Tinning.