The Vancouver Island field lacrosse team, destined to represent the Island at the 2018 B.C. Summer Games, has been chosen, with three of the players – Josh Verhagen, Jace Francis and Sonny Miller – having a close connection to Saanich.
“We have eight players who play for Victoria Youth Field Lacrosse Association (including the Saanich natives), three who play for Pacific Rim Youth Field Lacrosse Association, two who play for mid-island Youth Field Lacrosse Association, one who plays for Oceanside Youth Field Lacrosse Association and five who play for Nanaimo,” said Sean Walmsley, the coach of the Vancouver Island Team.
“You can see that we have a pretty good selection of players from across the Island. It’s a really great bunch of guys.”
For the purposes of the Games, the team will represent Zone Six, competing against five other zones from across the province.
“We put out applications that players could fill out if they wanted to play for the Island in the Games and we got 57 responses from players who were interested in trying out. By then we had a pretty good idea of who these players were, even before the tryouts, because we had gone out in February and watched these players in action during the box lacrosse season,” explained Walmsley.
“We had tryouts on May 12 and June 2 and it was a really tough decision, but we finally got it down to our 17 runners and two goalies.”
Walmsley feels that his team will be very strong contenders and stand a better than average chance of winning the tournament.
“We have a very strong team. With the talent that showed up at tryouts, we could easily have fielded two very competitive teams so you can imagine that the one team we have is just incredible.”
Walmsley is no stranger to the B.C. Games.
He actually played for the Island Team 15 years ago when he was 16 years of age. As a coach, this will be the third time he has headed up the Island team in the Games .
“Going to the B.C. Games is very exciting for the players. For them it’s like a mini-Olympics,” said Walmsley.
“It’s been a lot of years, but I still remember how it felt.”
Walmsley explained that, having been chosen for the team, the players are primed for action.
“They are really anxious to get out and get going. We’re going to start practicing in Ladysmith soon and, since that’s where the actual Games will be held, we’ll have a bit of a home field advantage as a result.”
Walmsley said that the game of field lacrosse has seen a resurgence in recent years, particularly within the girl’s program as some secondary schools in the region have introduced the game within an academy-type program.
“It’s an incredible game. I’ve played since I was 10 years old and I can tell you there’s no game quite like it.”
The B.C. Summer Games take part July 19 to 22 in Cowichan.