Enjoying a new sport

James McIlreath, now 10, is pictured here during his first season of lacrosse with the Quinte Bayhawks in 2019.

Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte

James McIlreath, like a lot of kids in the Quinte region, tried lacrosse for the first time in 2019. That year, the Quinte Bayhawks minor lacrosse program launched and had a successful first season. Unfortunately, any momentum gained was curtailed the following two seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Ontario government restrictions for minor sports.

Now 10 years old, James had previously played soccer, ball hockey, had tried ice hockey for a year along with skating and skiing. Lacrosse was unfamiliar to him, but his dad John introduced him to the sport. His dad is a former player and showed James his old stick and mask. “My dad showed (lacrosse) to me and I thought it was pretty cool so I tried it,” James said.

He got registered for the inaugural season of Quinte Bayhawks and loved it, especially all the running required during a game while also learning new skills. “It was kind of hard passing to my teammates because you didn’t know how hard or light to throw it and
it’s also hard to catch because it’s a small net,” he said. It proved to be a great crossover sport for his other activities. “I think it went really well,” James’ mom, Jennifer, said of the first lacrosse season. “He’s a really good soccer player, but we wanted to work on the hand-eye coordination and it was definitely a huge benefit for that. We learned that he’s got really good hand-eye coordination.”

One of the highlights from the 2019 season was the opportunity to go watch a Tyendinaga Thunder junior game in Deseronto. “That was amazing,” Jennifer said. “He was so pumped up after that because of course it’s a faster game at that level. They sort of saw the potential of what they could do. “He loved the game. I loved the game.
It was amazing to watch.”

James and the other inaugural Bayhawks’ players have yet to return for another regular season. If the schedule works out, James certainly wants play lacrosse again.
He’s also an avid skier in the winter and loves to compete before moving into soccer season. A benefit of lacrosse, Jennifer McIlreath suggests, is the late April start and the season concluding in later June, especially for families who have other plans during the summer months.

The Quinte Bayhawks Lacrosse organization is excited for a return to indoor box lacrosse this season. Registration is underway with early bird prices in effect until March 27. Children at the U5 level (2018/2019 birth years) can be signed up for free. The early bird/regular costs for the other divisions are:
U7 (2016/2017) $165/$190; U9 (2014/2015) $190/$215; U11 (2012/2013) $190/$215; U13 (2010/2011)
$205/$230; U15 (2008/2009) $205/$230 and U17 (2006/2007) $220/$245.

“In 2020 we only had a small outdoor skills program and last summer we had a limited outdoor house league,” said Bayhawks president Joe Fee.
“This year our main goal is to grow and build upon our initial 2019 season as it will be the first time we play indoor box lacrosse since then. We hope to have more players and teams in house league, build on a partnership with Tyendinaga and Kingston to grow the game and have a few rep teams compete provincially.”

Check out www.quintelacrosse.com.