If the future looked bright for Wallaceburg Lacrosse before, it is certainly shimmering now.
It was announced on Sunday afternoon that the Ontario Trillium Foundation has awarded the Wallaceburg group $266,800 to be used to further enhance their program.
“Wallaceburg Lacrosse, for the last few years, has had a lot of success and we have sort of sat back and looked at why are we having success for such a small community with lacrosse,” said Chris Dawson, an executive member with Wallaceburg Lacrosse.
“Really, it was all the camps that we are doing and the involvement from the kids and great volunteers. This is just a way to grow and expand that and that’s where the money came from was a grow grant.”
Dressing room upgrades
Dawson said approximately half of the grant will be used for new equipment for the Griffins, Red Devils and Thrashers, along with re-doing the dressing room at Wallaceburg Memorial Arena.
“We share it with the Lakers but we are going to be completely revamping the washrooms,” Dawson said.
“We got money to work with the (Municipality) to be able to fix that up so we have a state of the art room as well training facilities. We will have TV’s and everything set up where we can do (video) training for all the younger kids as well… sports psychology classes, things like that.”
Dawson said he is waiting to hear back from the Lakers to see if they are going to contribute in some way to the new dressing room.
Dawson said the other half of the grant will go towards running more lacrosse camps and making it affordable for kids.
“This allows kids to participate for free,” he said.
“In the past we have charged $80 or $100 for a camp and that starts to eliminate the amount of kids that can afford that, especially in the offseason. Now this will be free. We can attract kids from Walpole, Chatham itself. We can get into the schools. It really allows kids to try out lacrosse without the burden of financials getting in the way.”
Minor, junior, senior alliance
Dawson said the alliance that has been formed between Wallaceburg Minor Lacrosse, the Wallaceburg Red Devils junior team and the Wallaceburg Thrashers senior team creates a solid foundation for lacrosse in Wallaceburg.
“Probably about three years ago, we started to talk about working together, all three organizations and last year we put it on paper and formally formed it,” he said.
“We usually meet about once a quarter and we basically discuss the directions of lacrosse. So whether it’s the minors and what can we do to help them. We encourage the Red Devils to come out and coach. So we have probably half a dozen that are coaches this year in the minor system. Then obviously the Thrashers with them being fairly new to us, kids now in Wallaceburg who are new in Wallaceburg lacrosse have a place to play right from the time they are three-years-old, all the way to when they are 30 years old.”
Dawson added: “A lot of those kids come back and they are coaches and they are mentoring. It gives us that whole spectrum of age and demographic.”
Not about past financial issues
Dawson said this grant has nothing to do with the past financial problems with Wallaceburg lacrosse, when they had money stolen from them from a former board member.
“We are back and obviously stronger than ever,” he said. “Six or seven years ago we had the fraud situation and we made a choice. You either give up and become a victim or you come back stronger and the group decided to come back stronger. If you go back and look at the gold medals we have won over the last 4 or 5 years right from girls all the way down to novice last year, there is no other community in Ontario of our size that has had the success that we have had.”
Lacrosse is alive and well
Dawson said the tradition of lacrosse in Wallaceburg goes way back.
“There is such a tradition of lacrosse in Wallaceburg… more so than hockey, which you don’t find in a lot of small Canadian towns,” he said.
“The volunteers are fantastic. You will see the same families passed on from kid to kid coming back and coaching. That is a big part of this grant too. Hopefully with the clinics that we are putting on with sports psychology and fitness, and just how to play as a team and coach. The kids we are teaching in Novice and Peewee now, they are going to be coaches in 10 years. So it really sets up the organizations to continue on the tradition of lacrosse.”
For more information about Wallaceburg Lacrosse, visit: www.wallaceburglacrosse.com