Lacoka Gators see massive growth this season

With box lacrosse over and done with, Lacoka’s field lacrosse program is now underway.

RELENTLESS – Lacoka Gator Grayson Cameron attacks a Red Deer Chief during a fierce exhibition game last Monday night in an attempt to turn the ball over. No official score was kept for the game.

RELENTLESS – Lacoka Gator Grayson Cameron attacks a Red Deer Chief during a fierce exhibition game last Monday night in an attempt to turn the ball over. No official score was kept for the game.

With box lacrosse over and done with, Lacoka’s field lacrosse program is now underway.

Late in July, the Lacoka Gators began practicing for their second season of field lacrosse. This year, the club has seen massive growth.

Last year, Lacoka President Mike Wood said it was surprising how much attention the club had received in its first outdoor season. This year, the trend has continued.

“It’s unbelievable.”

This season, Lacoka will have enough players to form a mixed novice/peewee team, a bantam team, a midget team and a U19 team. In total, Wood said the club has nearly 70 players. It’s almost doubled from last season.

“Last year, we only had two teams.” He added there were only between 30 and 35 players in the club last year.

The field lacrosse season is short and has only just started, but Wood said it is already showing potential.

“The feedback has been good, the players seem to really enjoy it,” he said. “I think they’ll be great.”

Recently, five of the Lacoka Gators got to play in the World Lacrosse Festival as part of the World Lacrosse Championships (which Canada won this year). James Wood, Brodie Gladue, Conner Shantz, Logan Abrassart, Carter Makofka were picked up by the Edmonton Ridgebacks to travel to Denver, Colorado and participate in the tournament, playing against some of the best elite-level teams in North America.

Mike said the team did not expect to do well in the tournament, but went rather for the learning experience. He said it was well worth the trip even though the Ridgebacks got thrashed in most of their games other than one against Team Texus, where they managed a tie.

“It was an amazing experience,” he said. “As coaching staff we learned a lot in Denver. We’ve been researching a lot and I think we’ll see some major improvements.”

Other than the obvious, that it is played in a field, field lacrosse differs little from box lacrosse. It is notable however that there is no shot clock in field lacrosse, which Mike said allows the players to focus on taking their time and setting up plays.

While box lacrosse is already a popular sport and the popularity of field lacrosse is growing fairly rapidly, there are not enough teams in Alberta to form a league. Mike said other than Lacoka, Red Deer, Edmonton, Calgary and Okotoks are the only clubs in the province.

Therefore instead of league games, the clubs participate in lacrosse ‘field days’, which function similarly to football jamborees. Teams meet up and play three exhibition games over one weekend.

This year, field days will be held in Okotoks, Calgary and Edmonton as well as provincials in Red Deer come up on Aug. 23rd. In addition to the usual field days, Mike said he will be trying to arrange a number of exhibition games for the Lacoka teams as well.

Just this past Monday, the Lacoka bantam and midget team hosted their rivals, the Red Deer Chiefs in an exhibition game. While the game was informal and no score was kept, the Lacoka players showcased talent and demonstrated they had no problem getting the ball in the net.

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