No coaches for the recent B.C. Pee Lacrosse Championships in Coquitlam. No worries for the North Okanagan Legends.
Faced with a major dilemma, some very caring people decided to swing into action and find a bench boss.
“The kids deserved the opportunity to play in a provincial championship by working hard and winning their first two games in the league playdowns locally,” said co-manager Achim Colmorgen. “It was at that time that we were faced with a big decision…get a team together to go to the provincials or face a fine from BCLA. We were determined to make this happen for these boys. We decided to reach out to the lacrosse community for support and try come up with a solution to the situation.”
Added co-manager Misty Colmorgen: “We have a very good friend that coaches Bantam in Langley. He has twin boys playing and their team won provincial gold the week prior in Richmond. When we asked him to coach this Pee Wee team that he had never met before, coach Randy Clark was both excited and apprehensive to take on this unique challenge. The first thing he asked: ‘How many players do you have coming to play?’ We told him we had 11 runners and a goalie. He said that we were crazy but agreed to make the best of things for the sake of the kids…no pressure or expectations. Little did anybody know what was about to happen.”
It was obvious early in the tournament that a special bond and chemistry was being created between the coaches and this group of total strangers. Clark starting calling them the Bad News Bears.
After round-robin play, the boys were 2-1 and in a three-way tie for first. With the help of some mathematics to break that tie, they ended up first in their pool. That pool consisted of Ridge-Meadows Burrards, Nanaimo Timbermen and the New Westminster Salmonbellies.
That set up a semifinal against a strong team of 18 players from PoCo Saturday night. The Legends battled hard but just ran out of gas in a 9-3 loss.
That set the stage for a re-match for the bronze medal game early the next morning against a Ridge-Meadows team that they had previously beat 10-5 in the first game of the tourney. The Legends had fire in their eyes and winning on their minds as they came to play and once again beat a strong Burrards team from Ridge-Meadows 9-4 for the bronze medal.
It was truly amazing to see a team with a regular-season record of 3-8 come together and gel into a tight-knit group of champions.
“They took their game to a new level, played a team game and they were rewarded for their efforts,” said Achim Colmorgen. “It was amazing to be a part of this experience…it was an emotional weekend for a lot of people. As the weekend progressed, news had travelled around the tournament about the North Okanagan team and the wide-spread support was something we will never forget.”
“When kids from other teams in the higher divisions were lining up outside of our dressing room to give the boys high fives and cheer for them as they took to the floor was very cool to watch. They were the Cinderella story of the whole tournament,” said Vernon assistant coach Tony Danford.
Colmorgen said the team was extremely grateful to Kari Gares (president of NOMLA), some very compassionate and caring people from the BCLA for their incredible support, the Coquitlam Adanacs Lacrosse Association for supplying the Legends with a great group of Junior players that helped by running the doors and supporting the kids on the bench all weekend, and most of all, to coaches Clark and Sean Morrison.
Said Clark: “I have been involved in lacrosse as a player and a coach for a long time and it was very special to be a part of a such a great group of determined boys…You guys rock. Battered and bruised…but never broken. It was amazing what you accomplished over the weekend with only 11 runners. It was an honour to be a part of your success. I am very proud of all of you.”
The Legends’ roster: Taylor Robins-Swanson, Jaxon Wadsworth, Sam Danford, Aidan Owen, Clayten Colmorgen, Koenn Mahar-Robins, Teigan Kelley, Tyrell Palm, Phoenix Cardinal, Lucas Aeichele, David Calder, Kayden Thorburn.