If you are a lacrosse fan, the previous seventeen months have been very difficult on you…nothing to watch but retro games. A resilient bunch of people, I have been part of zoom parties to celebrate championships from yesteryear, games that were landmarks, and keeping up with friends and fans from other cities. We reminisce about where we were, with whom, and how the atmosphere was at the time. We made the best of it.
In Ontario, over the last few weeks we have had the flood gates opened for us, and lacrosse fans have greeted teams, and games with open arms. The coverage of all the games have been second to none, with the best people describing great plays live and in colour.
What has been available:
We have previously talked about what a spectacular job the Ontario Junior Lacrosse League (OJLL) did with their three week tournament style season and playoffs. This was already enough games to keep a lacrosse fan drunk with excitement, but there is so much more.
Major Series Lacrosse (MSL) jumped in with an idea close to the model set by OJLL. Multiple games, great broadcasting, spread out over a larger period of time, using primarily younger players, almost as a pre-season for teams to see what they had, and what was still needed to be drafted.
The result was better than anyone could have ever imagined. Hungry players that hadn’t played for a while trying to make a good impression. A mixture of youth with veteran leadership, learning the nuances of being a pro, and playing the game at the highest level. This gave the fans some of the most exciting, down to the wire games seen in a long time, where no lead was insurmountable.
Social issues were tackled to make sure they stayed in the news to finally try and find solutions:
In a recent game between the Six Nations Chiefs and the Oakville Rock, prior to game time, players joined hands in a circle of friendship. The message…To eliminate racism from the game once and for all! Another topic that was addressed was Residential Schooling. The Chiefs new jerseys have the “Every Child Matters” logo on them…A memorial for all the Indigenous children that were forced into Residential Schooling, and the ones who never made it home from it.
The World Junior Championships:
Because of Covid-19 restrictions this three day, three game tournament was a showcase in Canadaian Junior talent. With only Canada at the tournament, it became a showcase of Canadian talent…Canada East vs. Canada West, live from Winnipeg, MB. TSN covered the series, with an All-Star broadcast crew of Stephen Stamp, and Brian Shanahan calling the games. The tournament will go back to nine nations in 2022, but for now, this was still another high caliber tournament to keep lacrosse fans excited.
The Premier Lacrosse League (PLL):
As the summer comes to a close, so does the field season. Over the last number of weeks we have been treated to the greatest players in the world playing top level field lacrosse week in, and week out. The PLL even treated us to an All-Star weekend, including skills competitions, and an absolutely spectacular All-Star game.
The past weekend was the last week of the regular season, with still extremely meaningful games on tap. In one game, the Waterdogs played Atlas, the winner finished atop the league standings (plus a bye in the first week of playoff action), another game (later the same day) had the Cannons playing Chrome. The winner made the playoffs, while the losers season was over for the year. Ironically, the loser from the first game (Atlas) would meet the winner from the second game (Cannons) in the first round of the playoffs.
With three consecutive weeks of playoffs on the horizon, there will be nothing but meaningful, exciting, and intense games for lacrosse fans to submerge themselves in.
The Near Future…What to look forward to:
On August 28th the National Lacrosse League (NLL) will host their 2021 entry draft. Some of the most exciting youth in the game will find new homes for years to come on this night. The infusion of energy, intensity, and excitement will be the precursor for the upcoming season, beginning in December.
Commissioner Nick Sakeiwicz says it will be an evening to remember!
Not only will this be the night for the young, but also a special night for veterans too. The NLL will have a ceremony to induct their most recent selections into the NLL Hall of Fame.
With the Arena Lacrosse League (ALL) restarting soon (a developmental feeder league for the NLL), as well as the NLL’s 35th season in December, the near future will be full of excitement…A great time to be a lacrosse fan to be sure!
Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.
An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.
Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.
In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.
Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).
Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.
Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.