Dream Lacrosse / Vacation For Peewees

The Whitby Minor Lacrosse Peewee 1 team had the opportunity over the 2007 July long weekend to travel to Calgary, Alberta to play in the 31st Annual Canada Day lacrosse tournament. Through sponsorships as well as fundraising initiatives the team raised money for their flights, accomodations and food for a five day stay in Alberta; from Thursday June 28 until Tuesday July 3 / 2007.

The team would really like to extend our gratitude to all of our sponsors and all those that supported us financially and in other ways. It really helped to make our trip such a success. It was a great experience for everyone involved, and left long lasting memories for all of the boys for the rest of their lives.

The trip got off to a great start when the boys noticed Whitby’s own Joe Nieuwendyk and Gary Roberts in the Toronto airport prior to leaving. Gary and Joe were on their way to Banff to attend a wedding, and shared our flight. After arriving at the airport in Calgary they both had a few pictures, and chatted with all of our boys. A few also had their hats and jerseys signed. Our thanks to a couple of great guys that certainly make our home town proud.

With the games not beginning until Saturday morning, many boys and their families used Friday to shop, see the city of Calgary and / or visit one of the most scenic places on Earth, Banff, Alberta. If you ever get the opportunity to go to Banff, take it. It is simply an incredible experience, and one you will not regret. Our group spent the entire day there (and it was my son’s favorite part of the trip). The two pictures to the right are not lacrosse (and they are not postcards), but they came out looking so incredibly scenic, I had to put them in here. I am no professional photogrpaher, but with the little bit of overcast in the skies on that day, these pictures turned out as great as the real thing.

 Game day began on Saturday and in their first game in Alberta the Ontario boys faced the Calgary Axemen. Tied after twenty minutes at 1-1 the Whitby squad eventually got their legs and got used to playing on the carpet, and pulled away for the remaining two periods to pull out a 9-3 win. They also noticed that there was quite a difference in the officiating in Alberta versus Ontario. It appeared that there was much more attention paid to off ball checking (i.e. penalties) than they were used to in Ontario. There was also a lot less leniency in sticks coming anywhere near an opponents helmet than they were used to. Ironically, with the recent clamp down on checking from behind in Ontario, they were a little surprised to see that that was one thing that appeared to not be as strictly enforced in the West. This adjustment to the officiating they were not used to would prove to be the biggest challenge of the tournament for our boys. They spent far too much time in the penalty box in many games, but fortunately it did not cost us any games.

Game two put the Warriors up against the Saskatoon Smash. This game ended in an 8-2 win for the Ontario boys. This game was a little more entertaining with a few less penalties in the game. Our boys were somewhat able to adjust.

 Saturday night the boys and parents were able to take in the CFL Calgary Stampeders home opener against the Hamilton Tiger Cats. A few of the gang got their pictures taken with the Grey Cup prior to the game, while all the boys made sure to get into the picture with a couple of the Calgary Cheerleaders.

 Sunday morning in game three Whitby faced Saskatchewan Storm and this one proved to be over early as Whitby prevailed 14-4.

In the last game of the round robin, Whitby faced the Calgary Hornets. When the dust had settled Whitby had gone undefeated winning by a 5-0 score and ending the round robin play at four wins and no losses.

Due to a point scoring system in the tournament, the Warriors were put in to the bronze medal final. Another team in their division, the Port Moody Thunder from British Columbia did not tie or lose any periods while the Warriors tied the first period of their first game. Unfortunately, although they were in the same division, they never got to play each other.

In the Bronze final the Warriors proved to be too much for the Okotoks Mustangs, and won the game 10-4. A fitting end to the tournament saw the Warriors grab a combination of their home and away jerseys (Red and Whites) and offer them to the Mustangs after the game. In return, the Mustangs then took off their game jerseys and gave them back to the Warriors. It was a true sign of sportsmanship by both teams at the completion of the game.  The picture to the right shows the Warriors in their jerseys, while the picture above, shows them with their new Mustangs jerseys.

 When the games were all over the boys and families were able to do a little more sightseeing. Some spent time going to Olympic Park, while others went downtown Calgary to see the Calgary Tower and Saddledome.

From a parent perspective, I was extremely pleased, as I know others from our team were, that our sons had the opportunity to see Calgary, Banff and all that they did. It was interesting to hear from all of the kids I asked after returning home last night what their best memory was of the five days. Not one boy said lacrosse. While we were there to compete and we did go undefeated, the boys had fun and got more than lacrosse. They got a long lasting set of memories.

From a Coaches perspective, all you hope for your players is that they have fun, and that they represent themselves and their city / town appropriately.  I am even more pleased to say that our group of young men did just that.  Boys will be boys, but when we challeneged them with representing their town they really stepped up and performed very admirably.

Gary Mark – Coach
2007 Whitby Peewee 1

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