A sport like lacrosse, just trying to find their niche in the athletic marketplace in Sudbury, will gladly accept help, wherever that help may call home.
For the Sudbury Novice Rockhounds, the reinforcements would come courtesy of the city of Elliot Lake.
No less than three players were making the four-hour plus round-trip trek a few times a week, right through the summer, culminating with the team's appearance at provincials in Whitby this weekend.
"We were playing houseleague and we went on the floor for extra floor time, and the coach asked if we could go on again," explained nine year old Owen Angus, who joins his older sister Joely on the team being coached by Dan Mead.
"He probably saw us trying really hard in the practices and games, so he probably wanted us to play on the rep team." In fact, both of the Angus siblings, as well as fellow Elliot Lake native Declan McGonegal, are all in their first year of lacrosse competition this summer, let alone suiting up with the Rockhounds' crew that are competing in the Novice "D" Ontario Championships this year.
"Declan was going to play, so we decided to play too," said Angus.
In the case of McGonegal, the parental support that is a pre-requisite to this kind of time commitment was quite easily obtained. "My dad told me that he played lacrosse in St Catharines, that his team won provincials many times when he was a kid," noted the grade 5 student at Our Lady of Lourdes.
"He just told me how to play the game, mostly," added McGonegal. "He told me all the rules and all the stuff that you need to do when you are carrying the ball and that. When you are on offense, keep cutting through the house. And on defence, make sure that you shuffle your feet and don't let them past you, don't let them get a shot off."
Owen Angus might not have enjoyed that same level of coaching, right in his own backyard, but he certainly has picked up, rather quickly, some of the very fundamental skills as he worked his way through the summer.
"I learned how to craddle the ball," he explained. "You have your hands a foot or two apart, and your top hand stays still and your bottom hand does all the work. You move it up and down, so that when people are trying to slash your stick or something, it won't knock it down."
In fact, Angus would even pick up a thing or two in exhibition play, as the Rockhounds hosted a higher ranked crew for a pair of friendlies a few weeks before the Ontario playdowns. "When we played that "B" team for fun, they had lots of cool skills," said Angus.
"We played two games against each other, and they craddled underhand and did other cool things."
And as the young Novices gathered for their final workout of the summer, McGonegal offered his thoughts on a key to success in Whitby. "It's about defence this weekend," he said. "I think defence is pretty important, because if we get just one goal and don't let them score any goals, we still win."
In the end, the last of the Sudbury Rockhound rep teams to attend provincials would stay close in a pair of games, doubled 4-2 by the Huntsville Hawks but earning a 3-3 draw with the Milton Mavericks a little later on Friday, before bowing out of the competition with a 9-2 loss to the Oshawa Blue Knights come Saturday morning.
The balance of the Sudbury Novice Rockhounds roster is comprised of Hunter Currie, Josh Bell, Max Jouppi, Jackson Mead, Koda Peltier, Brady Toulouse, Liam Hagen, Andrew Roney, Lincoln Rancourt, Damien Dell, Zeebin Ashawasegui, Malik Jakubo and Etienne Hutchings.