Some budding amateur lacrosse careers are in danger of coming to a premature end, at least within the Red Deer City limits.
The peewee girls Chiefs team is continuing with its season in a Calgary league with five other teams but for five of the girls who will graduate to the bantam level, this could be their last season simply because there is no bantam girls lacrosse team in Red Deer.
Coach Bob Rutz says there was a program a few years ago but it lost steam and now he is pushing hard to see the league make a comeback.
“Our goal is to have these girls stay in Red Deer and play from peewee right through to midget as opposed to just quitting because there’s no team or moving to other communities to play,” Rutz explained.
The make up of the current peewee team sees seven novice aged girls (nine turning 10 years old) along with 13 girls who are turning 12 and Rutz says they all have varying levels of knowledge of the game.
“One girl playing, this is her sixth year, we’ve got a girl who has played five years and then we’ve got girls that have just started playing this year.”
With a solid core of novice girls graduating and the peewee aged girls with another year left Rutz says there will be a peewee team for next year, that’s a certainty, but the bantam age girls and program is where they fall short.
Four girls have registered out of the five eligible to play bantam but Rutz says without a team, they will need to be looking at playing out of town, maybe even in some of the boys leagues.
Along with other interested parents Rutz says several strategies to change that have been developed.
“One idea is a free camp open to anyone of that bantam age that may be interested in playing or approaching ringette and hockey players to see if they would be interested,” he says.
Rutz says the girls are getting some good instruction from the coaches and have made a move from a sort of drop-in atmosphere to something more structured and the girls seem to be having a great time of it.
“I just hope it continues and they come back next year.”
Working with the local lacrosse association to hammer out something in order to keep these girls playing as they get older is also part of the plan, says Rutz, hoping to target the girls that might not be aware of the lacrosse program in the City.
“We just want to create a league where the girls feel comfortable physically and psychologically so they can just enjoy the sport,” says Rutz. “Instead of worrying about being run over by a 13-year-old boy who might be much bigger.”