Codiac Storm Lacrosse, Moncton’s lacrosse association, is launching a new Codiac Varsity League for high school students, with the season running from April 15 until June 10.
The league will consist of 6-8 teams located in the Greater Moncton Area. Teams include Bernice MacNaughton, Harrison Trimble, Moncton High, and Riverview High schools. Last year, teams from BMHS, HTHS, TRHS, and RHS competed against each other, along with teams from Fundy and Hampton, in the New Brunswick Field Lacrosse Alliance. This program was a way to test the waters and introduce field lacrosse into the Moncton area. It had a great reaction from players, parents and fans.
This season, both returning and new players from Bernice MacNaughton will participate in the newly founded league. “I feel very confident about the team this year,” said Paul Elias, head coach of the Highlanders. “We have pretty much the whole team returning from last year. Last year was about learning the game and improving each time the team touched the field. Now we need to take the next step forward and play the game with a higher skill level and becoming a dynamic presence on the field this year.”
The team didn’t perform as well as they hoped in the NBFLA last year, finishing with 3 wins and 10 losses. “I wouldn’t say 3-10 is a good representation of our teams success,” says Thomas Johnston. “I think despite our record we had a great season and were competitive in pretty much every game,” added Johnston. Michael OBlenes, middie for the Highlanders, thinks that this year the team will do much better. “Now that we have experience playing together and with way more ball movement, on top of more competitive teams like Fundy and Hampton not having teams in our division, we look forward to being a top team this year,” said O’Blenes.
League president Murray Teed believes that this year there will be an even greater turnout, stating that Rogers TV will be broadcasting a total of six games live, as well as radio stations like K94.5 and C103.9 having regular announcements and advertisements for games and events. Teed hopes that this will help further grow the lacrosse community in Moncton. Kathy Chapman, convener for the Codiac Varsity League, and Teed both agree that growing lacrosse in Moncton is important, saying that it grows a community of players, teaches kids essential skills for all sports such as hand-eye, strategy, and awareness, as well as being a great bridge sport between hockey and football. Rob Cormier, who’s working with the midget level box lacrosse and the varsity field league, says that it’s also important to grow the sport because it is one of Canada’s national sports, and has a deep history in Canada.
On top of the varsity league, Codiac Storm Lacrosse will be launching a number of new programs for children of all ages. This year, within box lacrosse, they will be running a “Codiac Selects” program. Selects teams will be made for Novice, Peewee, Bantam and Midget levels. The teams will compete at a higher level than the past recreation league, and will be playing in tournaments in other provinces. Teed says, “I think the biggest thing is that [players] really want to be playing at a more competitive level. Like in hockey, they have the provincial teams. This will allow them to play lacrosse in that sort of environment.” Next year, there are plans to implement women’s lacrosse in Moncton, although there is no word on concrete details.
The most pressing issue for Storm is the awareness of the sport. The association needs more involvement from the community to continue to grow. Executives say that they are in need of volunteers to fill a number of roles within the association. On top of this, they say that with the sport growing so quickly and widely, the need for facilities is growing as well. Since box lacrosse is played in a rink without ice, the players need to wait until hockey season is over in order to play their sport, limiting their play. There is speculation that sometime in the future there could be plans to construct a sports center dedicated to lacrosse with a proper lacrosse field and pads.