As the popularity of lacrosse grows across the province, so too does the need for leagues to facilitate the high level of young players coming up in Saskatchewan.
As of this summer, the Saskatchewan Lacrosse Association has done just that with the creation of a new field lacrosse league.
The Saskatchewan ‘A’ Field Lacrosse League wrapped up its inaugural season this past weekend in Saskatoon with many spectators and athletes on hand for the finals.
The league was created to give the top flight field players in Saskatchewan a higher caliber league to learn, grow and play in.
“It’s been a work in progress, but really it’s the players,” Saskatchewan Lacrosse Association Executive Director Bridget Pottle said. “The players have been pushing to give them more, and us as organizers, administrators, the parents, coaches, everybody, we’ve got to listen to what the players need.”
The league consists of two age groups of players, U15 and U18, with three teams in each age group based out of the three largest cities in the province — Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert.
But, the players come from all over Saskatchewan.
“We’ve seen kids getting pulled from all over,” U15 Saskatoon General Head Coach Jordan Brakstad said. “On our team, we’ve got kids out from Sturgis, Regina has kids all the way south to Estevan and Weyburn, I believe. So, it’s great to see that everybody is coming together and wanting to play at a competitive level.”
“It’s a great opportunity,” U15 Regina Royals Attack Ryan McDonald said. “Getting myself out there, playing at high levels, going travelling and playing more lacrosse than I ever have.”
With players from all corners of the province, the league is structured around tournament events, where all the teams travel to one host city to play a weekend of head-to-head competition.
“We borrowed the idea from the PLL, the Premiere Lacrosse League that plays down south in the U.S., where they all come together to play,” Pottle explained. “So rather than have Regina travel up to P.A. just to play one game, they’re going to come up and play both P.A and Saskatoon, all the teams.”
It really gives an amazing environment where all of the kids come together, hang out, cheer each other on and ultimately play against each other.”
As the league continues to blossom and grow its brain trust, there are hopes that it becomes a true springboard for local players looking to continue their careers collegiately.
“This is definitely a good stepping stone to get more kids seen and get them able to go down to the states if they want to play college lacrosse,” Brakstad said.
“This will also give great opportunities in the future once we don’t have any COVID restrictions, so we can have scouts come out to look at these players,” Pottle added. “All of these games have been filmed, so all of these kids have film to send colleges and coaches to potentially be recruited and get an educational opportunity.”
After the expansive success enjoyed by the league in just its first season, talks have already begun towards expansion, which could be on the horizon as soon as next season.
“I can’t wait until next year, we’ve got some interest from the states for teams coming up, we have Manitoba who wants to join the league,” Pottle said. “So, it’s really lots of great opportunity for them.”
“The league’s going to grow even more, the sport’s going to grow, there’s going to be even more competitiveness next year,” McDonald said. “I just can’t wait.”