Athletics gearing up for games
The St. Catharines Athletics are back in business.
The A’s returned to the floor for outdoor practice Tuesday as they gear up for a 10-game schedule sanctioned by the Ontario Junior A Lacrosse League.
Exact details are still being worked out, but A’s general manager Jeff Chcoski said a Return to Action committee has been working to organize a five-week, tournament style schedule with all games played at The Hill Academy in Caledon.
“I still haven’t seen a schedule. I think it’s a work in progress and things are moving very quickly,” Chcoski said. “We’re trying to get back as soon as we can. You have to be ahead of the game and move as quick as we can.
“Things are a little chaotic on our end now. If you would have talked to me three weeks ago I would have told you there’s no chance we would be playing.”
According to Chcoski, an outdoor box rink is being constructed on a turf field at the school and games will be played Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Teams will play doubleheaders of three 15-minute periods on five trips for a 10-game season, plus playoffs to crown an OLA champion. All eight junior A teams are participating and eligibility has been extended to include those born in 1999 who had their final season wiped out by the COVID pandemic.
“There’s a real push to get this thing going. If there’s two or three hiccups, you never know. They are pushing to do it which puts us in practice mode,” Chcoski said.
The A’s had several dozen players participate at practice Tuesday, including 22-year-old Carter Zavitz.
“It feels amazing. I think everyone is champing at the bit to come back. We’ve been waiting for over a year now,” he said. “It’s a great feeling.”
Zavitz, who has four full seasons in the books with the A’s, admitted it was difficult to think he had played his last game in the double blue.
“It’s been hard having good news and then bad news, the 99s can play, the 99s can’t play,” he said. “Everyone is excited for whatever we can do.”
Zavitz said the A’s are taking the schedule seriously.
“I think we’re looking at it like it’s a regular non-COVID season,” he said. “We’re playing to win.”
A’s coach Steve Toll, who ran practice Tuesday with assistants Rob Taylor and Ian Rubel, concurred.
“I really don’t play the game unless I’m going to play to win,” he said. “We’re going in with the best lineup we have every game. The boys will know if they don’t have a good game someone will be there to take their place. It will be 100 per cent competitive all the way through.”
The A’s plan to sign 23 players to the main roster, and then have a second team of “young guns” ready on standby.
“We have a pretty veteran team and we’ll be getting some younger guys in too. We have some great talent,” Toll said. “I’m just happy just to see the boys on the floor again.”
Chcoski has been working overtime to put together the pieces.
“It’s a lot of work in a very short time trying to get this all together and to get all the guy signed up,” he said. “Every kid I’ve talked to the last few days is super excited to get the stick back in their hands and get back together with the guys. On my end, it’s a lot of work but I am excited to see the guys and have them play some games if possible.”
Chcoski also noted the league plans on COVID tests for every staff member, player and coach who participates. No fans or media will be permitted and the league is also looking into live streaming the games.
A’s acorns: The OLA drafted was conducted Sunday but the A’s did not have any draft picks. “We had a couple of opportunities for us to jump in but at this point we didn’t think it was worth it and we saved our picks for years to come,” Chcoski said. “We were going for a Minto Cup a couple of years ago made a lot of trades to bring in veteran guys and unfortunately the luck of the draw didn’t happen that way.”
Dear reader. If you liked this story or one of the 3,300 other stories found on our website, please consider hitting the Support Us button on the right-hand side of our home page and making a PayPal contribution to our website. Your support would be much appreciated. If you are a business owner, please consider advertising on our site. Our rates are reasonable and we provide plenty of exposure for your business. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.