Sylvan Lake brought two teams to play in the prestigious Canada Day lacrosse tournament.
Both the bantam and pee wee teams that travelled to Calgary over the Canada Day weekend and brought home a banner and gold medal.
For the bantam Buccaneers the team was hand picked to compete in the tournament.
Head Coach of the Sylvan Lake Buccaneers Bill Moody, said not everyone on the team was able to commit to the tournament, and players from elsewhere were picked.
“If everyone on the team had been able to commit I would have just taken the team as is,“ Moody said. “It was Canada Day and many had already made plans, I understand that.”
As a new team needed to be made for the tournament, Moody decided to hand pick players to fill the roster from other teams in Central Alberta.
In the end the team was rounded out with an additional eight players from Didsbury, Red Deer and Blackfalds.
The team gelled together very quickly for a tournament team with only two weeks of practises under their belt.
“For me, as a coach, I just expected the team to play well and be competitive,” Moody said adding winning the B Division was a plus.
The team excelled very quickly and played together as if they had been playing on the same team the entire season.
The team was able to play together easily and made key plays at the right time, according to Moody.
Most importantly the players learned how to play as a team rather than as individuals.
“I really think if we hadn’t played as a team, if we had played as individuals on a team, we wouldn’t have done nearly as well as we did.”
Moody said the players picked for the tournament team were all very talented and considered to be good individual players on their home teams.
Playing as a solid team was crucial during the tournament as the Buccaneers played teams they had never played before including teams from Winnipeg, Medicine Hat and one team from the United States.
If the team hadn’t come together as they did, Moody believes the games would have been very different, and not as close.
“I really wanted the kids to know what it was like to play tough, close games. Playing together well can make a real difference in those games,” he said.
One game in particular where the team showed their dynamic was during a particularly hard game against Winnipeg.
Winnipeg was a “tough team”, favoured to do well in the tournament. No one expected the Buccaneers to do well in that game, Moody said.
To begin with, the Bucs didn’t play well and Winnipeg walked over the players in the first part of the game.
“In the late game we slowly changed the game,” said Moody. “We started making cleaner passes and making more key plays. It just all began to change.”
Moody says he could see the shift in confidence in his players during that game.
The players went from having particularly low confidence in their abilities to beating Winnipeg in what Moody called an upset.
“I wanted them to see that, what it feels like to come back and even just play a close game. To win against Winnipeg was definitely a highlight for us.”
According to Moody, the players will go into the next season being better, more rounded players and leaders.
He hopes each member of the team will go into the next season with the experience from the tournament with them to become leaders on their teams next year.
“This tournament put them into a position where they could see just how much they have grown and progressed. I hope they remember that and continue to grow and progress as players.”