Weather permitting, Central and Voght Parks will be alive with action this Sunday, as Merritt hosts the Interior Field Lacrosse Commission (IFLC) age-group championships.

As many as 13 teams, representing communities throughout the Thompson-Okanagan region, will be in attendance, including the Nicola Valley’s first-ever field squad — the Thunder U13s.

Two other Merritt players, Tom Girard and Xni Grismer-Voght, will also be in attendance, as members of the powerful Kamloops U18 team.

Nearly all the Merritt field-lacrosse players are also box-lacrosse competitors in the spring and summer months.

Lacrosse is Canada’s official national summer sport. Field lacrosse is growing rapidly in popularity, and is now being played in countries around the world.

Apart from the contrasting venues (outdoors versus indoors), there are a number of differences between field and box lacrosse. The field game has more players in action at any one time, with special limits on where certain players can be on the field. The goals in field are significantly larger.

A detailed schedule of this weekend’s field lacrosse activity was not available at press time, but games are expected to go on all day at both venues.

MSS embracing the field game, too 

Members of the MSS field lacrosse team at practice on Oct. 26. (Ian Webster/Herald).

For the first time in its history, Merritt Secondary School also has a field lacrosse team. Approximately 16 male and female students from Grades 9 to 12 are members of the co-ed team, which is operating as a school-affiliated club outside the jurisdiction of the B.C. School Sports Association (much like girls’ rugby and high school rodeo).

The MSS team has been meeting regularly for practices, run by Nicola Valley Minor Lacrosse Association coach Wayne Kaboni and former Merritt Secondary students Dakota Grismer-Voght and Marcelo Bose.

All but two of the MSS team members have previous lacrosse experience; however, only five have played field before. The two brand new recruits to the sport are Brayden Blackwell, a Grade 11 transfer student and former football player from Thunder Bay, Ont., and Makayla Bales, a Grade 10 student from Hinton, Alta. who was introduced to lacrosse in her P.E. classes at MSS. Blackwell has expressed an interest in being the Merritt team’s goalie — a courageous position if there ever was one.

Coach Kaboni said that he is currently trying to organize some exhibition games with Kamloops club and Penticton high school teams. He’s also in discussions about a road trip to the Lower Mainland and possibly Vancouver Island.

Kaboni added that interest in field lacrosse is growing rapidly in the province and across the country, with lucrative scholarships available to American and Canadian colleges and universities.

Two of the MSS team’s players — Tom Girard and Xni Grismer-Voght — will be in action this Sunday at the IFLC championships in Merritt, as members of the Kamloops Rattlers U18 team.