For Keaton Kennedy, there is no better feeling than holding a lacrosse stick in his hands and feeling the rush as he carries the ball down the field.
Lacrosse has always been the Gr. 11 student’s passion, whether it be in the form of indoor box lacrosse or outdoor field lacrosse, there’s just something about the sport that has always appealed to the Notre Dame High school student.
“It’s physical, it’s fast-paced and there’s a good team atmosphere,” said Kennedy, who began playing box lacrosse when he was five years old and hasn’t looked back since.
For the past year-and-a-half, Keaton has dedicated himself to the pursuit of an NCAA scholarship.
Even though it’s the middle of the offseason for lacrosse players, the 16-year-old has been working with the Alberta Sport Development Centre-Central (ASDC-C) to keep himself in top physical condition for when lacrosse season rolls around again.
Through the winter months, Keaton has been attending ASDC-C training camps twice a week and working with a trainer three times a week.
That dedication was part of the reason that the ASDC-C chose Keaton as their Athlete of the Month for December.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said of the award, adding that he has big plans for his lacrosse career.
“I want to go to college and get a degree and then hopefully go pro,” said Keaton, noting that his dream is to eventually play in the National Lacrosse League.
Last season, because Red Deer doesn’t have a Midget A program, Keaton and his parents, Steven and Trina, made trips out to Airdrie so that Keaton would have a chance to play at the highest level available to him.
Keaton also earned himself a spot on Team Alberta’s roster for the 2016 Midget Field Lacrosse Nationals. He was the youngest player on the team, which ended up placing third in the tournament.
“He’s definitely grown a ton in the last three years, I think. There’s definitely been a big, big jump. Then playing A has been a whole other level, as well,” said Steven, who coached his son through the early part of his lacrosse career.
“The sport is great. Just the skill and the strategy that’s involved. A lot of people think that lacrosse is just a big, rough sport, but there’s actually a fair bit of strategy. You’ve got to be a team player to play the game.”
Steven said that it is also really cool to see his son progress as a player, from a young kid learning to shoot for the first time to a young man looking at NCAA universities and colleges to potentially play at.
This season, Keaton will try out for the Red Deer Rampage and Red Deer Rage junior teams, where he’ll be playing against 20-year-old players.
Keaton, however, is ready for the challenge and is ready to take the next step in his lacrosse career.
“I always wanted to be on the field and play in front of people.”