SASKATOON – Call it ‘the Rush effect.’ The arrival of the Saskatchewan Rush and the resulting exposure box lacrosse has received in Saskatoon has sparked a massive increase in the number of kids looking to try the sport for themselves.
“Our age group from 12 to four has blown up,” said Saskatoon Box Lacrosse (SBL) founder Randy Trobak.
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“We basically have about 30 to 40 per cent increase in registration.”
SBL novice division coordinator Duncan Elliott has heard parent after parent cite the Rush as the main reason for their child’s new-found interest in Canada’s national summer sport.
“They’ve gone to some Rush games and watched, and their friends are playing and they’re excited to get into it,” he said.
Across the tyke, novice, peewee and bantam levels, nearly 600 children are registered for the 2016 season, up from 419 just one year ago. The group includes brothers Brody and Davis Howard, 10 and eight years old respectively. Their father said it didn’t take long for his boys to catch the lacrosse bug.
“They wanted to go to a Rush game and they’ve been to one and they loved it,” he said.
“They’re like, ‘I don’t want to play ball hockey anymore, I want to play lacrosse.’”
With the first couple practices under their belt, the Howards’ excitement hasn’t waned.
“The kids have just got so much enthusiasm for it. They’re so excited. They want to play it, they want to get out there and see what they can do. We just got their sticks a week ago and they can’t drop them. They’re on the driveway, they’re practicising.”
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The spike in numbers doesn’t come without its challenges however. With so many more teams to accommodate this season, Saskatoon’s two primary box lacrosse facilities – the Kinsmen and Archibald Arenas – are filling up fast.
“Trying to find the floor times and having a venue to play in has been very challenging,” said Elliott. “Just trying to find enough time for all the kids to get on the floor and get all the time that they need.”
With even more growth expected next year a solution for the scheduling crunch will likely be needed before long. But that’s for the adults to worry about. As for the kids, they just want to play their new favourite sport.
“You ask the kids when they come off the floor the first time, ‘Did you have a fun time?’” said Elliott. “They’re all pumped up and sweaty and they had a great time.”