Sylvan Lake Buccaneers lacrosse players gathered to celebrate a successful season with their year-end barbecue and awards evening at the Community Centre last Wednesday.
This year marked the first the Buccaneers played as part of an autonomous Sylvan Lake Lacrosse Association. And with a number of its teams picking up medals along the way, association president John Hess has no hesitation in calling the season a success.
“For the first year we did fantastic,” Hess said. “There’s a lot of families that have really learned to love this game. They came in here with their eyes wide open and a little overwhelmed, but they got into it.
“We have a bunch of new families who love the sport now, and that’s what makes it successful to me.”
Hess said one of the association’s biggest accomplishments this season was successfully handling the Buccaneers’ 150 registered players — nearly twice as many as last year’s 84. Even with plenty of newcomers and inexperienced players on teams, the Buccaneers remained competitive throughout the season.
“That’s huge considering that we doubled our numbers this year,” he said. “Almost half of every team had never played before. It grew bigger than I expected, but we had great people that pulled it all together and made it happen.”
And the sport wasn’t just new to some of the Buccaneers’ players, Hess added. For many parents, the season marked their first involvement with it too.
“It’s a big thing to try and teach the kids, but they learn it fast,” he said. “It’s a lesson for the parents, and you have to get them to listen and buy into what the game is, how it plays and how it’s different (than hockey).”
Nonetheless, one of the most satisfying aspects of the Buccaneers’ first season, he assured, was seeing players develop and improve their skills.
“I have kids who never played it before, and one of them ended up being my captain,” he said. “He (went) from not being able to throw or catch the ball on the first day to being the captain of the team at the end of the first year.”
Hess added many Buccaneers players are already looking forward to the next season, which begins next spring.