Mini program sees large success

Ryan Cooke
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Major turnouts for Bearcats kid’s lacrosse program

TRURO – A flurry of kids decked out in red and green Truro Bearcats shirts ran around the floor at Colchester Legion Stadium on Saturday. 

Taylor Giddens sets up a faceoff during the Grade 4-6 session on Saturday morning. Giddens, a member of the Bearcats junior female team, was one of several volunteers on the floor both refereeing the game and guiding the kids along.

At times, the players bunched together a little too much, all chasing the ball at once with a youthful vigor. Other times, there were flashes of brilliance as a player spun off an opponent to make a dash down the floor, or a goaltender – with his head below the crossbar, but laden in a gigantic suit of lacrosse armour – kicked out a leg to make a save.

With 70 kids registered, the Truro Bearcats Lacrosse Association’s Mini program is off to a roaring start this season. The kids are split into two divisions – up to third grade, and grades 4-6 – with two games taking place at a time.

“The kids love it,” said co-ordinator Peter MacNutt. “You can really see the smiles on their faces out there.”

In the final minute of the morning’s practice, all the players flood the floor for an all-out scramble. On this particular morning, the red team reigns supreme, peppering shots at the mini goalie from all over the floor. Aside from the goaltenders, the rest of the players need only wear a helmet, cage and gloves.

“There’s not much contact,” MacNutt said, demonstrating the stickwork skills they teach instead. “We’re teaching them the fundamentals of lacrosse, so when they get into the upper levels and there’s a little more contact, they’ll be ready for it.”

It’s a little different for the goaltenders, however, who get to wear a full set of pads. With the massive chest protector, helmet and shin pads, the equipment leaves the kids resembling an abominable snowman more than a goaltender.

“The goalies absolutely love it,” MacNutt laughed. “They get to put on all that gear and look real big in net. It’s great.”

Lending a helping hand is a team of volunteers, mostly girls from the midget and junior divisions of the Bearcats organization. Among those helping out Saturday morning was Jenna MacNutt, Peter’s daughter.

Having played a year in the program as a child, Jenna decided to help out as soon as she got the chance.

“I loved playing mini-lacrosse when I was a kid,” Jenna said. “I played with the green team. It always had to be the green team.”

Helping out with the program is a two-pronged thing for many of the girls involved, she added.

“You can get volunteer hours (for school), if you want to do it that way, but it’s just a really good feeling to help out the kids.”

“Some of them can be a bit of a headache,” laughed Emily McInnis, a fellow student volunteer. “But they look up to you. It’s a great feeling, for sure.”

The program was started four years ago by Brendan Smithson, the recreation director for the Village of Bible Hill. The idea was to create a primary and elementary-aged program for minor lacrosse that taught kids skills at an early age. With the enrollment of the mini program nearly half of the registration numbers for the rest of the entire association, MacNutt said it’s been a success.

“It’s definitely a huge feeder system for the association,” he said. “It’s been great for that, and also just to get kids active and away from their computers for a while.”

None of the success would have been possible without all the volunteers and the work they put in, he said.

“Thanks to all the volunteers we’ve had, because it wouldn’t run without them. You need them all for a program like this with so many kids. If you don’t have enough volunteers to help out and teach skills, it all kind of gets lost.

“I’m just the co-ordinator. I put it together, and these are the people who make it work.”

Twitter: @tdnryan

Organizations: Truro Bearcats Lacrosse Association, Bearcats organization

Geographic location: Village of Bible Hill

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