Red Deer Major Lacrosse is kicking off 2015 with an open house of sorts – lacrosse style.
The door will open for their winter program starting Jan. 5th at the Collicutt Centre for all junior lacrosse players from around the region.
“The primary purpose behind this is to get the kids on the floor, get the lacrosse stick in their hands, get the ball rolling around, get the rust off them from the fall,” said Terry Willoughby, RDML president.
There are 12 sessions in total, running until the end of March and it allows players from Olds, Innisfail and Lacombe to take part.
“It gives them a chance to run the floor, do a bunch of drills and to get ready for when they go back to their own camp for tryouts,” he said.
This year’s session will be handled by a graduate of the Red Deer Minor Lacrosse system, Dustin Reykdal, and he brings with him a wealth of knowledge about the game, said Willoughby.
“He’s very well respected in town. The kids like him and he was an assistant coach with the Tier 1 team (Renegades).”
That team won provincial gold last year and went on to represent Alberta at the prestigious Founder’s Cup (Nationals) in Halifax.
Reykdal spent a few years playing with the Okotoks Raiders Jr. A club, reaching three Minto Cup tournaments with them.
He has also gleaned coaching information from NLL coaches like Bruce Codd and Geoff Snider with the Calgary Roughnecks and Jimmy Quillan from the Edmonton Rush.
Willoughby says this isn’t a tryout camp so there won’t be any scrimmages held during any of the sessions.
“What we don’t want to have is some people out there running other players over,” he said. “There’s lots of time for that in games. There’s zero body contact, other than when you fight for loose balls. What the coaches are trying to do is show the players positioning.”
The session also provides an opportunity for graduating midget age players to see how they measure up should they decide to try to play in the junior ranks.
“A lot of them are scared. They say, boy, I’m playing against a 21-year-old. That’s a man.”
Willoughby says for many of them, once they get onto the floor and are running these drills with them they realize they can compete, at least during these sessions.
Those workouts last year saw anywhere between 15 to 20 players on the floor at one time which was a workable number for the coaches to instruct and for the players to get plenty of benefit with little time to stand around and wait.
“This is for players in Central Alberta and we’ll take anybody who wants to come,” said Willoughby. “Last year one of the coaches spent a whole lot of time on the floor with a kid who had never played before and he was showing him how to cradle, showing him how to throw a ball, showing him how to catch a ball.”
The success of the lacrosse program at this level last year was solid according to Willoughby.
The Rampage, as mentioned went to Nationals and the Tier 2 Renegades won the South West division title, losing out in the playoffs.
The ladies’ team, the Rage, has seen its roster grow to a point where they have a good sized roster these days, he said.
You can find out more about the local lacrosse scene by logging onto reddeerlacrosse.com.