Youth from Standing BuffaloDakota First Nation are back on the field learning about lacrosse.
Jeff Shattler, a member of the National Lacrosse League Saskatchewan Rush is working with the youth teaching them the field version of the game.
Shattler said the overall focus is to build a strong box lacrosse program based out of the Lebret Arena, which the local band has given the program access too. To that end a player’s room is being developed with couches, big screen televisions and a hot tub at the arena. But, as that is happening he has players outside with their sticks.
“Right now we’re doing some field,” he told Yorkton This Week, adding the sessions are “basically a learning experience.”
For many of the participants, ages eight-to-20, the field game is very new.
“A lot of the kids didn’t even know how many players are on the field (10 per team),” said Shattler.
The wide age range of participants is forcing Shattler to keeping sessions for the 35 participants, split into two groups to meet COVID-19 guidelines, at the basic level.
“It’s loose balls and stick skills,” said Shattler, adding learning stick skills will feed right into the plan for a strong box program.
Shattler also noted that learning field lacrosse is important in terms of player opportunities as it is the field game that can earn players American college scholarships.
In the fall the box program will be the focus, with an eye to first develop teams for the Queen City league based out of Regina, and then to get a Junior team in place.
“I want to have a Junior ‘A’ team in a couple of years,” said Shattler, adding he wants to go after the Founders' Cup which is the championship trophy of Canada’s Junior ‘B’ lacrosse leagues.
Shattler said there is certainly potential in area players, noting he had arranged for six area players to travel to try out for the Iroquois Nation team headed to the World Championship before COVID-19 forced cancellation.
While making the powerhouse Iroquois might have been a long shot “the experience alone would have been outstanding for these kids,” he said.
Of course once a box program is established, there is potential for the best players to catch the attention of NLL scouts.
“We want to get scouted to go the NLL,” said Shattler, adding with that in mind a travelling team will be developed to get to tournaments in Ontario, British Columbia and into the US. He said that will be important because at present Saskatchewan is not the first place that is scouted for talent.
“We have to get these kids outside the province if we want them to be seen,” he said.