By: Vince Clark
Back in 2007, Sagkeeng Anishinaabe High School sent their lacrosse team to a tournament in the United States, known as the Grand Rapids Shootout. The following year, Powerview School sent a team of their own. The community has sent a team to the tournament every year since.
In recent years, due largely to a lack of players on both teams, the Sagkeeng Wolves, and the Powerview Wild have combined forces to become the Winnipeg River Wild Wolves. This year, for the first time in 15 plus years, there is no local high school team. There simply weren’t enough players. So, not wanting to end the local lacrosse program, an age 14 and Under team, as well as an age 12 and under team, were formed to participate in this years Grand Rapids shootout tournament. Long time coach and local boxing legend Larry “Razor” Sharpe coached both teams, with the help of Powerview Wild Alumnus Dallas Courchene.
The 2018 Grand Rapids Shootout Tournament took place on May 5th and 6th, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The tournament features a rarely seen round robin only format, meaning every team plays each other once, and the team with the best record wins the tournament. Both Winnipeg River Wild Wolves teams did very well.
The U-12 team, many of whom had never had any live game experience prior to this tournament, lost their first game in a nail biter, 6-4. They then went on to record four consecutive victories, 8-6, 9-8, 7-6 and 10-5. Their 4-1 record clinched them the U-12 title.
The U-14 team faired even better. They outscored their opponents by a total of 46-17, including back to back blowouts, 12-0 and 11-3 to close the tournament. Their undefeated 5-0 record not only won them the U-14 title, but was best any local team had ever done at the yearly tournament. “Aside from one close game early in the tournament, they completely outclassed their opponents.” Said coach Sharpe.
Unfortunately, the only local lacrosse leagues are High School exclusive. As a result, this tournament was to be the only game action for these teams this year. However, Mr. Sharpe has arranged some exhibition matches between the Wild Wolves and a team from Winnipeg.
Though most of these young athletes won’t get to experience league play for a couple more years, the future of the local lacrosse program appears poised for tremendous success. “It was incredible watching some of these kids play.” said assistant coach Dallas Courchene.
“The kids all had a blast, and this tournament was a great learning experience for playing on the high school team in the future” said Coach Sharpe.