Outlaws Ten Year Anniversary – Picture

Posted: June 3, 2012 by Paul Rai in Alberta Lacrosse, Box Lacrosse, Senior B, Vimy Lacrosse

Ten years ago the Edmonton Outlaws won their first Senior B National Championship while hosting the tournament at Bill Hunter Arena.    In 2007, the team won its second National Championship in Owen Sound.  I was part of both teams, unfortunately I was unable to attend the final tournament in Owen Sound, only being able to play through the Alberta playoffs. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been able to play for the Outlaws for many years and share the floor with some amazing homegrown talent.

The Outlaws held an informal Ten Year Anniversary party last night and it was a great chance to bring together a group of great friends and have them meet up with the new Outlaws team.  There are some players that are playing with the Outlaws that are still bridging the gap between the original members and the new generation.  Stu Sterparn and Phil Smyth are two of those players working on and off the floor to keep the Outlaws tradition strong.

It is mind boggling to look back at all the years that I personally was involved with the team and list all the phenomenal players that were not only excellent players in Alberta, but also made a huge impact in Canadian lacrosse.  Jamey Bowen was one of the best lacrosse players that I had ever seen in my life.   He played for the Edmonton Rush, Junior A and Senior A in BC and Team Canada Field.  Jimmy Quinlan, current Captain of the Edmonton Rush, played Junior A in BC and Ontario, Senior A in BC, and played for the Toronto Rock.  Ben Prepchuk, another skilled offensive player, played Junior A and Senior A in BC, played in the NLL for Calgary and Colorado and scored over 250 points in the NLL.  Darren Hillier, Chris Stachniak, Devon Wray, all NLL players.  A multitude of players  had experience in the BC Junior A league, including Brian Broks, Colin Sherbanuk and Grant McLeod.  Others such as Dan Bostrom and Dave McCrimmon had Senior A experience from BC.  I am sure I am missing some other players and I apologize in advance to my former team mates for the oversight.  The Outlaws team was so strong because so many of our players had gained invaluable experience in other leagues outside of Alberta.  They had watched and been around the best box lacrosse players in the world and  brought that experience back to the Outlaws.

Another interesting point about the members of the Outlaws team was their youth lacrosse.  The older players on the Outlaws had a connection to the Gold Bar Miners, the organization created by Tom McCaskill.  I was raised in Sherwood Park, but there were no teams in the Park in the late 1970s so players had to play with the kids from Gold Bar.  A large number of the next generation of Outlaws also came from this Southeast part of Edmonton.  The game of lacrosse was entrenched in this part of Edmonton and young kids in the area were picking up the game.  Another strong component of the Outlaws came from Sherwood Park.  Many of these players were born in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  There was also a contingent of players that came from the Warriors program.  Virtually all the players on the Outlaws had a connection with the Junior or Senior Miners program that was being run by AJ Jomha.  In retrospect the key to so many of these players excelling in the game was due to the coaches that were involved with them and provided them with opportunities to grow in the game.  The Outlaws team was not comprised of players from all across the city.  They came from areas of the city where people cared about the game and pushed them to get better.  Lacrosse was far from a main street sport in the 1980s and 90s.  The sport was being played due to the incredible work of parent volunteers and coaches.  Many of the Outlaws benefited from those efforts.

There is no doubt that the Outlaws were a hated team in Alberta during its heyday.  We were brash, cocky, mouthy and played with a swagger.  We had some great trash talkers and made sure other teams were well aware of who we were.  At times we were not very good sports and we would be relentless on the opposition.   However, when we made it to the national stage we always faltered.   The swagger was absent when we matched up against the best in Ontario and BC.  We were confident in Alberta, but in 2002 it finally came together at the Championships.  The weight was lifted for many of us that struggled so mightily in previous years.   Our success in 2002 and later in 2007 was due to the influx of talent that had been out of the province and came back home to help the Outlaws win.  There is no doubt that the experience those players brought back made the biggest difference for us.

I enjoyed my playing and coaching days with the Outlaws.  We had some great times and there are so many other players that I did not mention that made huge contributions to our success.  I remember a true competitor, Matt Dickerson, who left us too early.  I remember the guts and determination of so many individuals, that played only for the love of the game.  I remember the support staff, Raina, Maria and Ernie that were always there for assistance.  I remember the trips across the country to play this great sport.  I remember how excited I was to finally win the trophy and celebrate with so many friends.

I am very proud to have played for the Outlaws.  I learned so much about the game during my tenure with the team and had some unbelievable times.  Would not trade it for anything in the world!  Thank you Outlaws.


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