Spring has arrived in Prince Albert, and that’s an encouraging sign for lacrosse players in the city.
Youth players were able to dust off their sticks and equipment and head to the Kinsmen Arena, where the first sessions of tryouts were held on Monday night.
“It was great to be back in the rink and it went really well,” Prince Albert Lacrosse president Javan Bexson said.
The 12U, 14U, and 16U age groups stepped onto the floor on Monday, and for a lot of them, it was their first taste of box lacrosse in nearly two years. There was a shortened season in 2021, but this year will be the first full season since COVID-19 hit.
With that comes some growing pains. A number of players were at Monday’s tryouts, picking up the sport for the first time. And for the players returning to box lacrosse after not playing for a couple of years, Bexson says it will take a little bit before they settle back into the sport.
“It’s a building process throughout the season, but it starts with the foundation, the passing and the catching,” he said. “We’re looking at repetition, and just getting sticks in these guys’ hands as much as possible.
“They’re probably going to have to get three games or so under their belts before they get their stride. It’s been a huge hit losing two seasons, so it’s going to take a lot of time, especially for the younger age groups.”
Bexson thinks it will be easy to form teams this year, even though the kids trying out haven’t played much lacrosse recently. He says the COVID-19 days separated one pack of players from another.
“It really highlights the kids that have been playing field lacrosse or have been using their sticks on their own,” he explained. “The one thing that remains is that athletes are athletes, and they’ll shine. If they’ve been keeping up with their personal fitness and other sports, then that really translates onto the lacrosse floor. I don’t think it’s made it more difficult (to form a team), I think it’s made it a little easier, because you can really see the ones who have kept up with the game.”
Despite losing the chance to play for the last two years, Bexson is still optimistic about the competitiveness of each team.
“I think our 16U team will be good, and I think our 14U team will be extremely competitive across the province,” Bexson said. “With our 12U, you just never know at that age group what everyone is bringing. We know Saskatoon is going to be strong, they always are. We finished the season really strong against them in the games that we did have. I anticipate we’ll do okay, but it’s going to be a year of learning and development for sure, because we’re still just getting back into things.
“We’re just really excited to be back playing. It’s going to be exciting to drive registration up and get our numbers back to where they were from two years ago. They’ve taken a hit obviously, but we’re committed to getting more kids playing lacrosse again.”