Lucky I Am

Posted: November 23, 2015 by Paul Rai in General Lacrosse, Vimy Lacrosse

It has been a long Fall lacrosse season. It started with the trip to Toronto with two teams playing in the Junior NLL Tournament. Back home for a couple of weeks and then off to the Onondaga Nation where the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships were being held. Back home again as the Harvest Lacrosse League was in full swing with six field teams playing in the league. Then at the end of October off to Denver with two Vimy teams playing in a 3D Lacrosse tournament. Home for a couple days then travel to Toronto and Rochester with the Vimy Girls High School team.  I then remained out east and met the Vimy Boys High School team as they played in Delaware and Pennsylvania.  All this was going on while the Vimy Winter Lacrosse Program was kicking off in Leduc. Through all this travel I believe I have spent more time this Fall with families other than my own. Finally back home a week ago today and I am just starting to feel some normalcy again.

With all the lacrosse chaos that has been going on with the teams, the travel and the coaching, I have had little time to reflect on the experiences til now. It has become very clear to me, when I do a self-assessment, that I am a lucky individual. I get to work with some unbelievable student-athletes in a sport that I love. I have the opportunity to coach them and watch them develop. There are definitely the potholes along the way as lessons are forgotten and mistakes are made. There are growing pains, especially with the younger teams as they learn the field lacrosse game. Our females are also learning and have taken their lumps, but they get themselves up and show great resiliency. It is those moments in time, when I see the players’ perseverance, that I know I am where I need to be.

The Vimy players are going places. Our female players are getting recognized. Our High School boys are playing some of their best lacrosse I have seen in the program. The potential in the program is amazing and I expect some great things for some of our players in the next year or two. That is a result of the amount of work the student-athletes have dedicated to the sport of lacrosse over the past several years.

The Vimy Winter Lacrosse Program is a great time for me because I get to see so many new players to the sport of lacrosse. The enthusiasm is contagious and the energy is exciting. The mini tyke and tyke players are the special ones, the youngsters just excited to pick up a ball and run. Do not get me wrong, it can be like herding cats, but it keeps you on your toes. I also love giving the Vimy sticks out to the players. I love seeing the players with our sticks in their hands and the pride they have in their new equipment.

None of this happens without supportive parents. So many parents have worked hard to make Vimy Lacrosse a success in the Edmonton area. I appreciate the support that parents have given to Vimy Lacrosse. I am extremely thankful.

It has been a great Fall season. The lacrosse has been phenomenal, the experiences have been valuable and the growth of our players has been exceptional. Looking towards the next great adventure. Vegas in February! Did I say how lucky I am?



Last year Vimy Lacrosse decided to host a one day field lacrosse tournament to provide our Vimy lacrosse students with some needed field lacrosse game experience. We felt that our high school students were practicing daily in the Fall, but were not getting the game play opportunities to help better them as players. This year, with the great participation of local Edmonton lacrosse players, we expanded our plans and went with the Fall lacrosse league. The league played under NCAA rules with some modifications to keep the body contact minimal. Vimy put in two teams, a JV team and and Varsity team. We were joined by the Edmonton Triads, the Edmonton Warriors, the Steamwhistlers and the St. FX high school team.

The season has now come to an end and as we look back on it now we view it as a complete success. Players in the area that have been wanting to play field lacrosse in a competitive environment were able to finally participate in a league. Games were well attended and with the great support of Vimy and Donnan lacrosse parents, a concession was available for those spectators. We were treated to some great weather and some great lacrosse. This past weekend saw some very competitive and intense games. I can speak for the Vimy teams when I say their level of play has increased dramatically. It will pay huge dividends and they continue to develop as field lacrosse players. The NCAA rules created a fast paced game with emphasis on getting the ball up the field. Overall we were extremely happy with the way the league went and we look forward to growing it even more next year.

The winners of the league were the Edmonton Triads, who were pushed to the limit by a very feisty and improved Warriors team. The Warriors were forced to play four games on Sunday and were worn out by the end of the day, but they played hard against the Triads. The Triads did lose their first game in a couple of years to the Warriors, but they persevered in the end with their veteran leadership.

Field lacrosse in Edmonton is alive and kicking. The Harvest Lacrosse League will be back even bigger and better next year. Thanks to Tony deGans for his excellent leadership as Commissioner. Thanks to all the teams that participated. Thanks to all our officials, fans, volunteers and supporters. Thanks to Rick Needham for the photos you see in this post. Wait til you see our young VImy players coming down the line.

To see the statistics of the league please go to

Check out the Facebook page for more pictures at

Only two weeks left before the start of the Winter Lacrosse Camp. The custom SC-1X Under Armour shafts and the Headline heads have arrived for all of our participants. The camp will run into early March and will offer participants an opportunity to develop their lacrosse skills and play in controlled scrimmages. The objective of the camp will be to allow players to work on their lacrosse skills in a supportive learning environment. We believe at Vimy Lacrosse that the development of the basic skills leads to a better lacrosse player.

There are approximately 5 spots open in each group. To register for the Winter Lacrosse, please visit and login to AAD Registration to create your profile. If you have registered with us previously, please use your current profile.

Cost: $$415 for Minityke/Tyke and Novice

$450 for all other age groups

All Sessions @ Leduc Recreation Centre (Field House)

(30 runners and 4 goalies available at each level).

Bantam/Midget/Junior Girls (2003 birthyear and older) – Tuesday Evenings/Sunday Afternoons
Minityke/Tyke (08, 09, 10 birthyears) – Sunday mornings
Novice (06, 07 birthyear) – Sunday mornings
Pee Wee Minor (05 birthyear) – Sunday afternoons
Pee Wee Major and Bantam Minor (03, 04 birthyear) – Saturday evenings
Bantam/Midget (00, 01, 02, birthyear) – Saturday evenings

(Please note that we will do our best to groups players on ability and will move players around to promote the best learning environment)

For more information on the program please email Paul Rai at To find out more information on Vimy Lacrosse please visit .


2015-2016 Winter Lax DRAFT Schedule (Subject to change)

YEAR 5 of the Vimy Winter Lacrosse Program is now accepting registrations. We are extremely excited about the upcoming year and seeing even greater development for all the participants. Sessions will run from early November until the beginning of March at the Leduc Recreation Centre. This year we have added more sessions for the athletes, providing even more instruction and game play. Sessions will be divided between skill development and controlled game play. Our focus in the beginning of the program is to develop the skills and as we proceed through the program to increase the gameplay. It is our objective to teach players to play the game the proper way and allow them to show their skills of during the games. Our mandate in this program is to develop lacrosse players who have sound fundamentals. For our goalies, we will be bringing in goalie instructors to ensure players at this position are receiving quality instruction on technique and skills. Specific goalie sessions will be provided during the program to allow us to work directly with the young players.


Jimmy Quinlan – Lead teacher at Vimy Lacrosse, a sports alternative program that provides lacrosse training to students within the Edmonton Public School Board. Jimmy played for several years in the National Lacrosse League before stepping behind the bench as an Assistant Coach for the team where he won the league championship this past year

Paul Rai – Founder and Director of Vimy Lacrosse, program now in its 11th year of operation and boasting over 100 student-athletes. Paul has 20 years of lacrosse coaching experience working with players from Mini Tyke to Senior Mens. He has led box and field teams to numerous tournaments across North America and has won a Presidents Cup Senior B Championship as a player and coach.

Mike DeGirolamo – Mike will be our Head Goalie Coach. Mike finished his Junior A career playing for the Whitby Warriors under Head Coach Derek Keenan. He finished the season second in the league with a 7.76 GAA. Mike was drafted by the Edmonton Rush in 2014 and is working hard to secure a spot in the NLL this upcoming season.

Sarah Oor – Sarah graduated in 2014 after four years playing in the NCAA with Limestone College (Div II), where she served as team captain. Oor is a native of St. Albert where she grew up and played box lacrosse. She was named as an Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) All-American in both 2013 and 2014. She also served as the Captain of Team Canada’s U19 Team (Women’s Field Lacrosse) in 2011 which took the bronze medal in the 2011 World Cup in Hanover, Germany.

Cost: $415 for Minityke/Tyke and Novice
$450 for all other age groups
All Sessions @ Leduc Recreation Centre (Field House)
(30 runners and 4 goalies available at each level).

Each player will receive a Vimy Lacrosse Pinnie. Each registrant will also receive a professionally strung Under Armour lacrosse stick (retail value $175). Our Under Armour stick program for the players is being done to ensure each player has a stick that will foster and promote strong mechanics and proper development of skills. We are very honored to be partnering with Under Armour on the stick program.

To register for the Winter Lacrosse, please visit and login to AAD Registration to create your profile. If you have registered with us previously, please use your current profile.

Bantam/Midget/Junior Girls (2003 birthyear and older) – Tuesday Evenings/Sunday Afternoons
Minityke/Tyke (08, 09, 10 birthyears) – Sunday mornings
Novice (06, 07 birthyear) – Sunday mornings
Pee Wee Minor (05 birthyear) – Sunday afternoons
Pee Wee Major and Bantam Minor (03, 04 birthyear) – Saturday evenings
Bantam/Midget (00, 01, 02, birthyear) – Saturday evenings

(Please note that we will do our best to groups players on ability and will move players around to promote the best learning environment)

For more information on the program please email Paul Rai at To find out more information on Vimy Lacrosse please visit .

(Dates are tentative and subject to change based on final registration numbers)

Team Australia Day 9 and 10 at the WILC

Posted: September 29, 2015 by Paul Rai in General Lacrosse

The second last day of the tournament saw Australia meet the Czech Republic in the 7/8 game. The Czechs have not had a great tournament falling out of the Blue Division after a couple disappointing losses. This was our last game of the World Championships and I know the team wanted to end it off on a great note.

The game started off really well for us as we were able to score some goals. The offense was clicking and we were able to create some good offensive chances. On the backend we were doing a good job, but whenever we scored we gave up a goal. Things went south for us in the second half as the team could not get a stop. The Czechs scored easily and we could not respond.

By the end of the game the grind of the tournament started to take its toll on the team.  Three weeks of lacrosse, eight tournament games, several exhibition games, multiple training sessions and miles of travel caught up to the team. The well was dry. The players were trying, but the energy was sapped from the team. This is a team that relies on certain players to carry a lot of weight to keep the team afloat. The top teams have a deep roster of players that can be interchanged and the team never loses a step. The less experienced teams, such as Australia, rely on their leaders more. This is the nature of the beast and you could tell the team was playing on fumes.

Game ended in a loss to the Czech Republic and finished in eighth place out of 13 teams. There were some surprise teams, such as Israel and Ireland. These teams relied on North American based players to bolster their lineup and provide the team with the box lacrosse leadership to be successful. Every single player on the Australian team, except for Tristan, is Australian or lives in Australia. That is the one thing that was evident on this team. The players are from Australia and trying to build the box program within that country. That’s a tough thing to do with the limited facilities, but these players have a deep passion for the game. I have the greatest respect for this group of players, spending their own money to represent their country in a sport that is far from the mainstream in Australia. You need to love their desire to play box lacrosse. I found myself admiring their dedication and commitment to the game. It also made me feel so lucky that I have such an easy access to the sport in Canada. When I tell the Australians that I teach box lacrosse at Vimy Ridge they are in awe that such a program even exists. I do consider myself lucky.

I do need to recognize and thank the coaches and staff out the Australian team; Bob Carter, Alan Lewer, Greg Mollison, Adrian Burns and Ian Webb. All of the gentlemen sacrificed so much to be part of this team and it was obvious they love the indoor game and they love their country. They wanted only what was best for the team and they worked so hard to put the team together. So much work took place before I even arrived. The organization and preparation of the team was evident in all the details. I can only thank them for allowing me to participate with the team and be a part of the experience. It was the best sporting experience I have been a part of and it would not have happened without the Australian staff allowing me inside their team. I will always be thankful for that opportunity.

The final day of the tournament was the Bronze and Gold medal games in the Carrier Dome. A rink was built in the middle of the football field and the scene was spectacular. The USA won the Bronze medal easily over Israel in the warm up game, but virtually everyone was there for the Iroquois/Canada game. Over 10,000 people were in the dome for the final of World Championship and it was a great game. The majority of fans were cheering for Iroquois and they played hard, but in the end Canada won the game 12-8. There were some extremely exciting moments of the game that got fans were out of their seats. It came down to the Canadian goalie, Matt Vinc. He was the difference maker as he made so many remarkable saves. The Iroquois defense matched up with Canada and the Iroquois offense was better. But Vinc stood tall and some bad turnovers turned in favor of Canada. It was disappointing to the majority of the fans, but it was clear that the game of indoor lacrosse is better today than it was two weeks ago.

The Onondaga nation put on a show of a lifetime. They invested their money to increase awareness of their sport and their traditions. The entire event provided some much more than the sport. It provided educational events and opportunities for people to learn more about the Haudenosaunee. The organizers did just a phenomenal job to ensure that people who attended were going to enjoy their experience. For me  I can not express enough how superb the entire event was. The biggest regret for me was that Aidan was not able to join us for the event due to his school commitments. It would have been awesome to have have him with us.

Leaving Syracuse was sad for me. Sad because I knew it was over. The euphoria and excitement of the event was over and I knew as I drove out of the city I had been part of something special. I met some great Australians, I saw some great lacrosse, my oldest was able to represent the county of his grandfather, I was able to coach at a World Championship and I saw lacrosse go home to where it was born. I only hope of more great lacrosse experiences ahead. Four years in Langley anyone?

Team Australia Day 8 at the WILC

Posted: September 25, 2015 by Paul Rai in General Lacrosse

This one hurts. Really hurts because the team came so close to knocking this Blue Division team off. I think the English know they were pushed to the limit today and were hanging on to dear life. We battled hard today, so hard. The entire lineup competed from the first whistle and we had a chance with the last shot to tie the game. They executed the offense and the defense. We had over 70 shots on goal and many of them point blank shots on the net. We scored a late one that looked to be in, but was called off for crease violation. No matter the call the players did not give up. I know this hurts the overall standing of the team, but this could have gone either way. It is sports in the most cruelest of fashions. It can be heartbreaking and this one was just that. But we dust off the pain and get back tomorrow against the Czech Republic for the 7/8 game. The Czechs started in the Blue Division, but have hit the skids so hopefully they are a fragile team we can take advantage of. If we do the same thing as today we will be okay.

All the guys played well today. We made some great adjustments defensively to shut them down and we make some offensive shifts to create offense by coming over the top. I was impressed at how the players adjusted and how much they have learned over the past 10 days that I have been there. The competition will do that. It will force teams to get better or get crushed. These guys are getting better.

This is not an easy sport. It is a very demanding sport. It is physical and exhausting. This team is heading into its eighth game in nine days at this tournament. I have to hand it to Ian Webb and the trainers the team has brought on board. Ian has been meticulous in their preparation, their stretching, their pregame routine and their post game routine. The Australian approach is so much different that the North American approach. Their use of ice baths, measuring body weight and just tracking injuries has been a great assistance to the team. Ian knows his stuff and has been integral to this team’s overall performance. He is a true professional. Big game tomorrow and I am sure Ian will have them ready physically to play.

Team Australia Day 7 at the WILC

Posted: September 25, 2015 by Paul Rai in Alberta Lacrosse, Vimy Lacrosse
Tags: ,


Yesterday the Australian team played Serbia. The winner of the game would proceed to play England and give itself the opportunity to play for fifth place in the event. Serbia is coached by Edmonton resident Stu Sterparn, who I have known for almost 15 years after playing with him with the Edmonton Outlaws and winning a couple of President Cups together. One thing I will say about Stu is that he loves the game of lacrosse and he cares about helping the game out. Stu was brought into coach by Brian Gorodetsky, another Edmontonian, currently living in Serbia. Brian has been in Serbia for several years and five years ago started box lacrosse in the country. He was able to gather some equipment up with help from some of his North American contacts and get the sport started in the country. Five years later he was able to bring a team to the World Championship and he is playing in the event. This is what lacrosse is all about. It is about playing the sport, not about the politics and bureaucracy that can suck the energy out of the game. It is about getting people interested in the sport and experiencing the joy of competition. I have the utmost respect for Stu and Brian, paying out of their own pockets to assist in bringing the country of Serbia to Onondaga for the World Championship. Stu and Brian were also joined by another young Edmonton lacrosse player, Taylor Yaremovich, so Edmonton was going to be strongly represented in this game.

Serbia is led by Ilija Gajic, Alex Gajic and Nik Bilic, three players with NLL experience. After watching their previous game on video it was obvious those three players were leading the team as well as coaching the players on the floor. Everything was going to be running though those three players. I also knew there would not be a lot of structure to the Serbia team as their inexperienced lineup would make that difficult. They would be setting some picks and shooting away. When we were in the warm up we learned that Ilija Gajic would not be playing as he broke his wrist in the previous game. This would give us an advantage.

The game ended up following the same pattern as our game against the Turkey team. We were very sloppy. I think we came into the game a little complacent. Our energy levels were not what they were against Finland. There were some players in different roles and that may have caused some problems, but I think the mental focus of the team was not where it needed to be. We struggled all game to get a good lead on the Serbs. Whenever we had a lead we surrendered it and we were even down late in the third quarter 11 – 10. Nik Bilic, for Serbia, was on fire. We did not defend him well and he scored with ease on us. We paid the price for not being focused on defense.

In the end we pulled off the victory 17 – 13, but it was far from a pretty win. In a competition such as this one, there are going to be games where things do not go exactly as planned. The team has played six games so far and won five of them. There has been a lot of success so I will not make too much of the Serbia game. I do know the England game will be a battle. They have a world class goaltender in net and some strong offensive players. Our focus today will need to be sharp and our execution perfect. If there was one game where we need to stay out of the penalty box, it is this one. We struggle with the discipline and for once I do hope we can win that part of the game.

It has been a grind for these Australian players. They have been here for almost three weeks and I am sure they are getting worn down. I respect their efforts and their compete level. Even when the team is not doing well, the players work hard. It is getting near the end of the event and the next two games are so important in the final standings. A lot of work ahead, but also a lot of fun.