The Great Nationals Debate

I was thinking today seeing as we have opened up to a National audience of readers about the whole Peewee / Bantam Nationals tournament. Is it really a showcase of the best kids across the country, or is it a chance for Ontario, British Columbia, Iroquois and this season Alberta to beat up on the other provinces?

I noticed a few comments from some about some of the scores in the tournament. I really do mean this when I ask, what is more embarrassing a 30-2 score where a team competes the whole game, or a 15-2 score where the winning team holds the ball and plays catch until about 5 seconds are left on the shot clock and then they roll the ball down the floor for the last period and a half? I’m not sure that there is a right answer to the question.

I will say this though; in every game I watched this past week, there were almost no instances of dirty play, cheap shots, etc. There were discussions and a little jabber between players, but nothing more than that. More importantly, at the completion of every game, both teams shook hands, and both teams made the effort to go to both officials on the floor and shake their hands as well. That my friends, is a great display of sportsmanship, and acknowledging that the game was “over”.

So I guess what I’m asking is that if there is anyone out there that has any ideas of a better system, let’s hear them. Someone mentioned that the teams that weren’t as successful want to play the better teams, it helps them to get better. I do agree with this philosophy but would love to hear from people across the country what they think.

My second question is about the format of the tournament itself. Waaaaaaaay back many, many (did I say many) years ago when I was a Peewee lacrosse player here in Whitby, my team travelled to what we called a Nationals tournament in British Columbia. We were billeted (never heard of in 2007, but a great idea in 1980) with families in Port Coquitlam, BC. To this day, I remember the family, remember a lot about my trip out there. We also had I believe at least four or five other teams from Ontario that went out (Peterborough, Toronto, Scarborough I think were some).

For some reason, that tournament format went away and when the Nationals were brought back it was in the one Provincial team format. Now, speaking here in Ontario, there were somewhere in the neighbourhood of 200-300 kids try out for “each” of the Peewee and Bantam teams. With that many kids, would it not be an “idea” to bring back the club team format of National Championships, and let whoever go to them that wants to? I mean you do not have to be a Provincial winner or anything like that, simply go. Would this not open up lacrosse across the country to so many more kids than 18-20 from each province?

Money being an issue, I can tell you this. I coach the Peewee team here in Whitby and we decided to go to a tournament this season in Calgary. We raised the funds through a raffle, and business sponsorships to pretty much raise what was needed to fly out. So it can be done. And this was decided in April to go on the July long weekend.

Your Provincial governing bodies are your voice, but you need to speak up if you would like an alternative. I’ve thrown one out, but would like to hear any others. Or is the current setup the best one?

So please, take the time to let me know your thoughts on both issues above and respond. I’d love to hear from those not just in Ontario, but all over the country.




  1. I agree 100% with your idea on how the format for the Nationals could change(club format).My 3 brothers all played lacrosse and my husband and his 4 brothers did as well. My brother’s teams won many Provincial titles and went to many Nationals tournaments based on this format. I do believe that it makes for better games to have teams competeing who have played as a team all season and would put more heart into the game as well as a stronger sense of team play as opposed to individual star effort.Ps my one brother from Edmonton played for The Junior A Oshawa Greengaels and Senior A for the Vancouver Burrards .

  2. in the late 80’s I managed a Pee Wee team that fund raised like crazy to be able to go to the Nationals in BC. We were from small town southern Ontario, we only had about 9 players. We knew we could not win a game BUT that did not matter to these kids !!! They wanted the experience of a lifetime and they got it !!!! I felt it was a great system. But here I am twenty years later watching a nephew play in the new format. Both have very strong and weak points. Ever think of having 2 tournaments- 1 by invite only same as present day one team / province and another maybe held every other year in the club format.
    Just a thought.

  3. I agree 100% with your suggestion for a change in the Nationals format to a club format. You arguments in support of this I agree with but I also think that it would put more heart into the tournament and would place more importance on team effort rather than the individual star. Teams who have earned the right to be at the Nationals by winning their provincial championships and who have played together all season wold bring a better game I believe than a group of individual stars who have little opportunity to gel as ateam and learn to work together.My 3 brothers and my husband and his 4 brothers had the opportunity to go to many National competitions based on the club format and did very well. One of my brothers from Edmonton Alberta played Junior A fior the Oshawa Greengaels and Senior A for the Vancouver Burrards. My huband now coaches aJunior A team (Edmonton Eclipse ) and has bennvery successful playin, coaching and continuing to help develop lacroose in Alberta.I believe that his numerous experiences both playing and coaching at National tournaments has helped greatly with his continuing successes.More kids should have the opportunity to compete at a National level if lacroose is to continue to grow in Canada.

  4. The only way a team wins at these Nationals is if they follow their systems and play as a team. A team with invidualistic tendencies will not win. Period.Full stop. End of Story. The players in the current format are all heart. In fact it takes heart to win whether in a club format or select format. Playing for your Province or Country brings out the most intense characteristics of a player beyond that which a club player will feel. They are not only representing their individual clubs but also their Province. That comes with immense pressure.

    The current format is far more reaching and important for the sustainability in the established centers and the growth of our game in the developing centers.

    The diversity of players from each Province allows for those grassroot players to have an opportunity to make a Nationals instead of the Power centers year in and year out. The current format allows these “rural” players and players from numerous clubs to go back and share their practice,playing and travelling experiences thereby elevating the play of a vastly greater number of players than if one team from one club represented the Province. Imagine the potential for 20 teams to be touched with the experience of 1 player from each. To be able to take back the Practice and Game Plans and game experiences to his club. The impact is and will show itself to be profound.

    The 1980 Tournament was I believe in Deltas Sun God Arena. The same year of Nations in 80. I billeted a player from another Province for which we are still friends as a result. 27 years later and still seems like yesterday.

  5. Hey Marksy

    Your comments about Nationals was bang on. I played in Scaroborough (you know who I am) and did get billeted in Port Coquitlam the same time you did. There is nothing like the experience I had then for a 12 yr old.

  6. i agree with coach completely…having individual kids playing as a team, is way better than the powerhouse teams in each province represent….this way the rural kids get a chance to advance to the big game, no matter who their club team is or finishs in their provincials…my son comes from a small community and luckily has played at 2 of these nationals, where as , if only club teams played , he would never have been there

  7. I really like Coach’s comments as well, but my question was not to insinuate that you have to be a Provincial Champ to go to these National tournaments……anyone from any province can go to them.

    I guess the issue as Coach pointed out is that small town teams would not benefit from participating at the thighest level of the game in my suggestion, as they are able to in a Provincial team format.

  8. In the 80’s, playing in Barrie we hosted the Nationals one year and played in the Nationals another year in Owen Sound. The billeting was a great time and the tournaments were amazing. One thing that I think has been missed in this debate is to remember that small centers also came to these nationals. As I recall divisions were set up from A to D much like our Ont. provincials. Also if I remember correctly, the first game or so were seeding games and then you were delegated to appropriate divisions to compete for that Championship. I do see merit in the provincial teams and the high calibre of play, but I do have to admit that playing in a National tournament with your own team and being apart of the Opening Ceremonies and the local media attention for the club must also be taken into consideration. Everyone still wants as many kids to be touched with the National experience and I believe the old style reached further and gave more kids the exposure that is needed.
    The more kids involved the better.

  9. If anyone other than a Provincial Champ went it would not be a true Nationals. The Mann, Minto and Presidents Cups are true Nationals. The Founders is an invitational and you never know if you are truly facing the best each Province has to offer. The Minor Nationals are an Invitational with a allstar format. Each MA gets to load a team. It is closer to a True Nationals format than a pure invitational like founders.(Although organizers are beginning to limit each Provinces participation). You know you are going to get the majority of the best wanting to play.

    If other club teams want a “National” type experience then get on the internet and find some great Tournaments to attend. The Lobster Cup, Canada Day South in Calgary,Dogwood in Coquitlam, Someone enlighten me in Ontario on a great one to attend.

  10. I don’t agree with club teams going to Nationals. I think when you get the best of the best trying out and making the teams then you see the best lacrosse being played. Some kids who are very talented and gifted players play for smaller associations who don’t have that high calibre of play and will never get the oppurtunity to play at such a high level. Continue the way you are and that way kids from all over will get an oppurtunity to play with kids all at the same level. Tis gives them equal oppurtunity and goal to work towards. Some provinces are always going to be stronger as the game is larger there and has been played longer. If you go back to club teams it will probably be mostly Ontario teams and BC teams and not true representation of what talent there is in our Nation playing our National Summer Sport.
    Just my thoughts.

  11. Great discussion on this folks, obviously there are pros and cons to the idea. I guess what my thought process was is as follows:

    My opinion (maybe wrong) is that the National Championships are a showcase, an effort to expose the game of lacrosse to more kids in each province. If that is the case, then would it not be a good idea to “open up” this tournament to “more kids”. I understand it would not the “best of the best”, but when talking about 12 -14 year olds should it be about seeing the “best of the best” or should it be about recruiting more kids to play, and experience the week long spectacle these kids are experiencing? Yes, they can take that back to their member associations, but they could also “be here with” their member associations.

    Can you imagine what the Junior and Senior / Major Series lacrosse would be like if the Minor associations across the country had thousands more playing at the grass roots level?

    Does anyone out there know the numbers of kids that tried out in other Provinces? In Ontario there were 200-300 for Peewee and very similar for Bantam. To me that says that there is interest there for the equivalent of almost 20 teams. Now that might be a high number because it was here in Ontario, but I’m eager to hear the number of tryouts from other Provinces. That to me, would be an indicator of how many families were interested in travelling and playing at this type of tournament.

  12. The “coach” said it above – it is not a true “Nationals” because the Provicial champs are not represented. This is just a tournament for some to find out who are the best players in the country. If a tournament were held and Provincial Champions were invited in each division to compete with each other and you also included other teams from across the country to compete against teams of equal calibre in their own grouping, then you would have a “National” tournament.

    “lacrosse mom” says above that we should continue to play the way we are so that all kids will get a chance to play. More of a chance to play if you are on a club team and came to a tournament like this. If you are an individual with great skills and are not playing with and against “top” players all year round then you will not make one of these teams that are playing in these Nationals. Especialy from B.C., Ontario, Alberta or the Iroquois. Most of the “rural” kids get cut by coaches during the first and second tryouts and never make the final camps.

    Let’s get on to these “member association” and let them know we want a true Nationals. Change the format and maybe change the venue every second year so it isn’t as costly for some to travel to them.

  13. I agree with what anonymous has said. Changing to a club format with different levels( a b and c for instance ) would open it up to more kids to share in the Nationals experience. The way it is now …it is pretty much the same 20 kids picked each year which means only 18 kids from each province at each age group will ever get this experience.Furthermore Ontario is always at an advantage as they have home court advantage and are used to playing in high humidity.Also with the present format Ontario gets to select its team from a larger pool but with club format the the weaker teams could be allowed to pick up 3 more players to help equalize the copetition. Maybe? just a thought

  14. It will not open it to more kids. It will simply cater to the larger more established clubs. Whitby and Halton Hills, The Titans and Warriors, Coquitlam and New West.

    The other clubs players will never see a Nationals so how does that expose more players. Go to a Tournament in the other Provinces if you want to expose your club team to have an out of Province experience.

    Ontario kicked everyones buts in BC when Bantam was there. I am in the West and as such the host and humidity issues are irrelevent. Having 40,000 reistered players is relevant compared to Albertas 9,000 or BC`s 20,000.

    Ontario is a step ahead…..for now. That landscape is a changing slowly but surely and Ontario deserves alot of credit for taking on the monumental task of organizing and steping up to be host. Where else is there a venue so perfect for the festival style event.

    A travel equalization program will follow soon.

    There are only 3 True Nationals. The Minor Nationals are Nationals in a Provincial invitational format.

    Why did Nationals die before? Cost and committment. The MA`s committ very early on to attend. How does a club committ when they dont even know what there teams going to consist of or whether they will have the numbers to do it. This way we have gauranteed attendance.

  15. I’ve been talking amongst Calgary lax folks since July and now have an opportunity to say here – what a class act the teams from Whitby were at Calgary’s Canada Day tournament. So impressed were we at the level of play and sportsmanship demonstrated by those young players and their coaches that we hope to see you all again next year – sorry for the off topic, was enjoying the thread but just had to say.
    Best in Lax,
    from Calgary

  16. Hey Mustang, you are right it is a little off toipc, but I must acknowedge and thank you for your post. The Novice Coach was Rob Dyment, a friend of mine, and I’m the Coach of the Peewee team that came.

    Your comments are appreciated and I think I can speak for both when I say that we did have a great time while we were there.

  17. I think that some of you are forgetting that the teams that go to Nationals, with the exception of teams that can drive, operate on a budget of about $50,000. I know, I managed the peewees from Saskatchewan last year. It cost each kid $2000 to go. They weren’t provincial champions but the team that won provincials would have had less than a month to raise that amount of money. Impossible! What people have to realize is that lacrosse is very different from province to province. My two boys have both gone to nationals and this is the first time we haven’t gone in 3 years. If we, in our province, were to send a provincial champion, my boys would have never been able to have this opportunity because we come from a city that has less than 200 kids in lacrosse from tyke to junior. Ithink the provinces like Saskatchewan, Manitoba, etc. are approaching it the right way. We don’t have lacrosse year round here and we are sending the best of what we have that choose to try out. Now lets face it. The cost turns a lot of families off of going. We don’t have the corporate sponsorship opportunities that even provinces like Alberta have not to mention many others. And just to mention about whether teams would want to lbe embarrassed 30-2 or lose 15-2 but not get a game as mentioned in the post. Show us the respect of playing the whole game. We gain experience from it. Last year it was a disgrace when that was done. The parents for the team that was stronger were embarrassed that the game was played that way. I hope it didn’t happen this year. We know we have a lot to learn in this great game.

  18. Hey Mark….thanks to you for keeping us all informed on the progress of the tournament. Some of us might have our differences with others about how things should be run to benefit the most kids, but I think we are all in agreement that your site was the best by far in providing us with how the games were being played. Your video of some of the games was fantastic!!

    Hope to keep in touch.

    Thanks again

  19. thought I should answer a couple of things that Chantale said in her post. I took a team to Peterbourgh quite a few years ago for the Peewee Nationals from the west coast and the cost worked out to about $2000 a player. And you should know at the beginning of the lacrosse season whether your team has a chance to be the Provincial Champion so fund raising could begin then. If the tournament was opened up to include that wanted to attend, but were not Provincial Champions, then your team could still travel and be part of the tournament.

    If the National tournament were to be opened up to other teams that wanted to travel to the tournament and take part, I would anticipate it could grow to a 20 or 30 team tournament. Think about all the parents and players watching all of the final games!!! The arena would be packed!!
    And that would be just the Peewee National Tournament. The Bantam National Tournament could be held on the other side of the country at the same time to save the cost of travelling.

    I believe that the poster was trying to make the point that the weaker teams, and the organizers know who they are, should not have to play against teams the have that many more times their skill level. It could be organized so that they are playing teams that they are competitive with or have a bit more skill.

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