Changes coming to junior lacrosse
The future of junior A lacrosse in Ontario appears to be in flux.
The Ontario Junior A Lacrosse League’s hopes of having a 22U division for the 2021 season were dashed recently at the Ontario Lacrosse League’s annual general meeting.
The OJALL proposed an amendment that would have approved the 22U division as a one-year pilot.
That amendment was defeated with 51 per cent of the voters opposed. The original amendment was then voted on to make 22U a long-term change. The results were 52.38 per cent in favour and 47.62 per cent opposed. The amendment was not carried as a two-thirds majority is required to carry an amendment.
“Our league (OJALL) governors voted 10-1 to let the 1999s come back,” St. Catharines Athletics general manager Jeff Chcoski said. “Even though we won the vote it wasn’t enough to change it.”
The 2020 junior A season and 2020 Minto Cup were casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic and the OJALL had hoped to give those players who had their last season of junior cancelled another year of eligibility.
Chcoski said that while the decision is final, there are other options.
“I’ve had discussions with governors of the other teams and everyone still have intentions of having the 22-year-olds play next year, with or without the OLA, and maybe with or without the Minto Cup,” he said. “I feel the 1999s will play next year, it might be under a different umbrella, but there is still so many unknowns how this is going to play out, it’s tough to sit here and sat it’s going to happen like this or like that.
“At this point, we know the OLA has refuted that the 1999s will play next year. As a league, we now have options to move away from them and create our own identity. Play for something within Ontario but it won’t be sanctioned within the OLA.”
The Athletics are slated to host the 2021 Minto Cup at the Meridian Centre, but that now appears to be far from certain.
“With so many unknowns because of COVID, no one really even knows when lacrosse is going to resume and what the spectator or player options would even be,” Chcoski said. “Trying to host the Minto Cup at this point would be a huge financial strain on any team when almost all of our income comes from spectators.
“It’s a really big risk to take on for this year and all the other junior A centres agree with this mindset.”
The A’s, as host team, were expecting a big season after loading up for a run last year. The A’s feature a roster of about a dozen 21-year-olds, including key players such as Carter Zavitz, Tom Whitty, Alex Simmons, Kealan Pilon, Owen Friesen and Mason Kamminga.
“The governors have a return to play set up that will deal with everything to get these guys back on the floor but the COVID thing is out of our hands,” Chcoski said. “I’ve had contact with my guys, and the guys know what’s going on and what’s at stake and that we’re fighting for them.”
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