Thinking outside the lacrosse box

Okanagan coach is working on building up interest in field lacrosse in Cranbrook.

Local athlete Caine Manion is hoping to make his mark in field lacrosse.

Local athlete Caine Manion is hoping to make his mark in field lacrosse.

A field lacrosse team in the Okanagan has had some Cranbrook representation for the last few years, and now the head coach is hoping to get even more local athletes interested by using scholarships as an incentive.

Field lacrosse—as opposed to box lacrosse, which is played inside an arena—is the game that is played by NCAA schools, and Randy Reynolds, who coaches the Okanagan Sun Devils out of Kelowna, wants his young athletes to realize the types of opportunities that are available with post secondary scholarships.

“The hard part with field lacrosse out here, is everybody’s played indoor, but nobody’s played field lacrosse,” said Reynolds.

Reynolds is a lifelong lacrosse player and his coaching partner, Kevin Langdale, played the game at the NCAA and professional level.

Cranbrook has the local minor lacrosse association, however, players only compete in box lacrosse, which is played similar to hockey in an enclosed area with boards and nets at opposite ends, while field lacrosse opens up the game on a 100 metre by 55 metre grass surface.

A few other Cranbrook players have played with the Sun Devils, and Reynolds wants to run a camp in Cranbrook over the summer to gauge the local interest in field lacrosse.

Dakota Hollister, a local lacrosse player who has landed a scholarship with Bellarmine University in the U.S., plays field lacrosse with the Sun Devils, and Caine Manion, a young 15-year-old, is hoping to replicate that kind of success.

Hollister played on numerous Midget teams in the Okanagan and did a stint with the Burnaby Mountain Selects, which got him noticed by Reynolds, who asked the Cranbrook product to play for his team.

Manion followed in the same footsteps, playing with the Kelowna Kodiaks and moving on to the Burnaby Mountain Selects, before getting in touch with Reynolds.

As a club team, the Sun Devils don’t participate in an organized league, but rather attend tournaments in the Northwestern U.S., which allows his players to get scouted by top-rated colleges and universities.

While Reynolds wants kids on his team to learn the field lacrosse game, he is also holding them to high academic standards.

In the U.S., if athletes don’t get good grades in high school, they don’t play high school sports. That philosophy carries into college and university as well—coaches aren’t interested in recruiting athletes who don’t have  grades that are up to par, according to Reynolds.

“The thought process behind that is, when we go to tournaments, and [university] scouts see our teams play—if every single kid on our team has a university grade point average, then our team’s worth looking at.

“…So if all our kids are coming in with university style marks, then it’s very easy for scouts to watch us.”

NOTES: The Sun Devils went undefeated in round robin play at a tournament in Bellingham at the beginning of March with a roster that featured Hollister, Manion and Andrew Lafreniere. The only loss came to a high-powered squad representing Skyline High School out of Seattle. The Sun Devils run two teams in the U18 and U15 divisions.