By GEORGE BROWN
Two lacrosse players who learned the hard way about scholarship opportunities to pursue their love of the game and earn an education are passing their knowledge on to student athletes in Ponoka.
Former Lacoka Lacrosse players Nick Amendt and Nils Thompson have been in Ponoka Composite High School and Diamond Willow Middle School since school reconvened, hosting clinics for phys ed classes. The pair are on a break from attending American colleges.
“Everybody’s been really interested in it and were more involved than I thought they would be,” said Thompson. “That’s encouraging.”
Students have been interested in learning the skills and fundamentals of the game and they’re curious about local teams and leagues and post-secondary scholarships.
“We’ve done clinics sometimes when we’ve been talking to nobody,” Amendt said. “So it’s nice to not have that. They’ve been quite attentive.”
There have been a few Lacoka Lacrosse Association players among the students and they’ve helped the young men explain the drills to their classmates.
“When kids see people in their class playing it encourages them to join too,” Amendt said. “That kind of encourages them to pick up the stick.”
Amendt and Thompson were not introduced to lacrosse at a young age so they feel it’s important to reach out to the students on behalf of the Lacoka Lacrosse Association and to prepare them for college selection.
“It’s an opportunity we never got,” Thompson said.
Amendt himself was “introduced to the stick” after attending a clinic Thompson’s father put on years ago. Today the pair plays for the Edmonton Miners junior A team in a summer box lacrosse league.
“At the college level it’s all field lacrosse,” Thompson explained. “If you want to play box lacrosse, it’s pretty much on club teams. Box lacrosse skills are easily transferred to the outdoor game.
“It’s a really great team sport. It’s a great complement and combination of basketball, hockey and soccer.”
The young men said the game is not as rough as it looks but it is a high-tempo, physical game. “My mom loves to watch me play,” Amendt said.
Classes have learned about the protective equipment players wear, the proper way to hold and use a crosse in shooting and passing and they’ve been involved in a variety of drills and scrimmages.
Thompson, who plays NCAA division 1 lacrosse with Bryant University, and Amendt, who plays division 2 with American International College, learned the hard way about athletic scholarships.
They encouraged the young students, especially the girls, to seriously consider sports scholarships as a way to continue in their chosen sport and to finance their education.
American colleges and universities are required by law to provide equal opportunity and funding for women’s athletics so even schools with huge football or basketball programs must provide similar funding for lesser known women’s pursuits.
Students interested in applying for scholarships have to be persistent, do their research and score well on the SAT Reasoning Test.
Lacoka Lacrosse Association will hold its registration night Jan. 26 for the spring league.