Youth lacrosse program drawing good numbers

Joey Payeur

Being “Hockeyville” wasn’t meant to be for Fort Frances.
How about “Lacrossetown?”
Canada’s official national summer sport is finding a foothold locally—thanks to the efforts of a youth program organized by the United Native Friendship Centre here.
Organizer Terry McMahon said numbers for the weekly sessions, which run Tuesdays from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the ’52 Canadians Arena, are up from last year’s inaugural season.
“We had 20 in each of the two divisions last year, and this year we said we were willing to accept up to 30,” noted McMahon.
“And we have waiting lists for both divisions,” he enthused.
The program’s first night May 17 drew 26 in the 10-14 age group and 22 for ages seven-nine.
“There’s competition with other sports going on right now like soccer and baseball, and each week we lose a few to those sports,” McMahon conceded.
“[But] we’re hoping to keep our numbers high and if we can keep the interest up, we’ll definitely look at extending the program into the summer,” he added.
McMahon is being aided by his teaching partner from last year, Dereck McLean, and also has added Marcel Pagee and former Muskie boys’ hockey captain Carter Brown to his staff.
“Dereck and myself are both experienced in playing the game,” he noted.
“Marcel asked to come on board, and he’s been a great addition as he’s got knowledge through playing the game himself,” McMahon added.
“Carter is a newcomer to the sport and we’ve also had lots of parents offer to help out down the road if we need it,” he remarked.
“It’s good to see people wanting to get involved.”
McMahon said there’s plenty about lacrosse that makes it attractive to youths.
“It’s a fast game that is good exercise and, similar to hockey, it’s kind of a national game,” he reasoned.
“It’s another option, something new for them to enjoy, and it’s growing all around us.”
Despite the waiting lists, McMahon is determined to get everyone who wants to play a chance to get into the action.
“As people start missing sessions, we’ll get other people in,” he pledged.
McMahon is taking a baby steps approach with the fledgling program, but is open to consider expanding the local lacrosse scene on a much grander scale.
“There’s lots of excitement,” he remarked. “People really seem to like the idea and they’re keen on learning new sports.
“Lots of people are saying they would like to see a league right now.
“My job is to give kids the opportunity to play, and get them to have fun and learn the sport,” McMahon added.
“I definitely think there could be a league at some point.
“But there has to be a firm commitment from the players,” he stressed.
“Ultimately, they have to make the choice.”