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Tribune Photo By Ned Bekavac

Tribune Photo By Ned Bekavac

Aydan McNaughton, 9, eyes the ball and heads towards the net during Try Lacrosse For Free Day on Sunday afternoon at the University of Guelph’s Gryphons Fieldhouse.

Best feet forward

Local lacrosse club steps it up

By Ned Bekavac
Guelph Tribune

The Guelph Regals Lacrosse Club is putting itself out there in an effort to up the profiles of both the club, and the sport of lacrosse itself.

“I’m not saying we haven’t been doing things well (in the past),” says Jeff Snyder, president of the club.

“But we could do better.”

If you were on hand at the recent Guelph ringette tournament in town, you might have seen local lacrosse lad Steve Forester wearing a lion’s costume, sporting a Guelph Regals lacrosse shirt, and winning smiles for miles from those in attendance.

If you were on hand this past Sunday at the club’s Try Lacrosse For Free Day at the University of Guelph, you would have seen grins galore as well, this time from the 80 or so youngsters who took part, all wearing sharp Regals Lacrosse shirts they scored at the event.

“There were a lot of smiles,” says Snyder,  of the third of three free lacrosse events, held this week at the Gryphons Fieldhouse.

“First you see the concentration. Then when you see them first learn to pick up the ball, or to catch the ball . . .  it’s very rewarding to watch, not just for myself, but for anyone watching.”

The free lacrosse sessions, and the lion’s visit to the ringette tournament, are part of the local club’s efforts to put the sport out there, gain some more exposure, and to give their registration numbers a boost.

The free sessions were a huge hit, says the prez.

He figured they might get 20 to 30 people out each time, but they got about 38 the first time, 54 the second, and more than 80 this past Sunday. All in all, they had more than 100 different individuals come try out the game, even some adults among them.

“We’re extremely happy,” says Snyder.

While registration numbers for the club can be tough to pinpoint – some players play both the box and field versions of the sport – Snyder figures there are about 440 registrants any given year. He says 30 to 40 newcomers this season would be a “huge boost” and they would like to see the number of girls teams double, from two to four.

A few years ago, the club’s board was made up of about six members. Now there are 17, says Snyder.

“That’s a lot more help, and more good ideas,” he says.

Among things they would like to promote is that the sport, especially in younger age groups, is far safer than some people might believe, says Snyder.

“This isn’t mixed martial arts for kids,” he says with a laugh.

They also like the idea that variety helps develop an athlete’s overall skill set. Snyder says that the notion that the best way to improve in a sport is to play it 12 months a year isn’t quite right.

To that end, the club’s website has a section called “hockey versus lacrosse” that lists names of National Hockey League greats – Wayne Gretzky among them – who grew up playing lacrosse as well.

It quotes Gretzky from a National Post article in the year 2000.

“All the good hockey players seemed to play lacrosse in those days and everyone of them learned something from the game to carry over to the other – things athletes can only learn by mixing up the games they play when they are young,” said The Great One.

For lacrosse registration information, visit the Guelph Regals Lacrosse Club at guelphregalslacrosse.pointstreaksites.com.

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