FEATURE: GARRIOCK A KEY PIECE ON MULTIPLE OAK PARK ROSTERS

Multi-sport standout Elle Garriock’s schedule is pretty busy these days. She’s currently playing high school soccer for Oak Park (the indoor season just ended and outdoor will be starting soon), and is also on four different lacrosse teams, spread between Team Manitoba, the Red River Lacrosse League (with the Shamrocks) and the Manitoba High School Field Lacrosse League (co-ed and female).

“I kind of just take it day by day,” she says with a smile when asked about her sporting ventures.

“If I have an overlapping sport, maybe I’ll leave one team halfway through to go to the other one. Any free time usually is for homework, or for extra training or going to the gym or something. It is a lot of fun. It’s stressful, but in the end it is a lot of fun.”

Garriock’s history is longer in soccer, but she’s “started to fall in love” with lacrosse. She took up the former when she was four, playing premier with the St. Charles force. The tenacious athlete has played a number of different positions, but found her true calling as a central defender.

“I just loved it. My communication skills were perfect for that one position,” she says.

“I kind of just fell in love with playing defence and just being able to see the field from that aspect. I was a captain throughout the years, so you have a chance at that position to pursue leadership, which I really like doing. I love being a leader. The Shamrocks, we had a camp and me and my brother and a few of his friends went out and coached some of the kids. It was super fun just teaching them how to play the sport.”

As Garriock mentioned, her roots in lacrosse can be traced to her family. Her first memories of the sport were being at practice with her dad Wade, while also supporting her older brother Kai.

“My dad would coach his teams all the time, and I would usually just go and sit on the bench with my helmet on and watch the games. Every now and then with the boys practices I would maybe grab a stick and take five shots on net, just small stuff like that. Growing up with the guys, they’re on the male team now, so I’ve known them a long, long time.”

The 15-year-old had a passion for the sport, and wanted to play, but there weren’t as many opportunities for females. She got her foot in the door by playing on a boys team, and this summer she’ll make history as part of Team Manitoba’s first all-girls box lacrosse squad at the Canada Summer Games.

The team was created due to increased interest, in part because of a number of development camps that were held. The roster is coming together, and fared quite well against Saskatchewan over spring break.  

“There was lots of frustration in the beginning, but with the encouragement of my coaches and seeing how everyone was on the same page and having a few girls who are experienced helping you out, it was an encouraging environment,” noted Garriock.

“Seeing the team play together from that one weekend was awesome. We’re definitely on the right track and constantly developing. We’ve got four months left until the summer games, so hopefully we’ll have another chance to face a provincial team, just to get some more experience before the summer games, but we’re definitely constantly improving.”

Excited for the challenge of field

Because of her speed and endurance from soccer, Garriock greatly enjoys cradling the ball and pushing the pace, mentioning that as the easiest part to learn when she started lacrosse. Her shooting, passing and catching have also improved significantly.

She’s excited for the challenge of field, which includes ten players on at a time, compared to five in box, making for longer possessions and a more methodical style at times. The head of a box stick is also designed differently, so that players can hold onto the ball effectively in tight situations. Because of this, catching has been the biggest adjustment for Garriock. Nonetheless, she’s adapting and enjoying the process for an Oak Park team that’s making their return to the MHSFLL.

“We have around 40 athletes, and I would say ten of them have experience. We did get a lot of numbers out, luckily and those who haven’t played lacrosse before are definitely picking it up, which is awesome. There’s lots more opportunities for scholarships playing field, so it’s exciting to see what I need to practice with the field stick. If I’m wanting to get a scholarship and things like that, it’s good that I’m starting now, and just getting that practice in before I graduate.”

Because of the conditions outside, Oak Park’s practices have been indoors, with a focus on the fundamentals.

“We did a lot of rolling, passing and catching the ball. We’re starting to develop our defensive line and our offensive line, so showing the girls and guys how to set up on defence and offence, that’s kind of what we’re in the middle of now,” added Garriock.

“The first week was mainly just showing you how to play lacrosse, how to catch a ball, how to pass a ball and now it’s digging a little bit deeper. There’s lots of excitement with our students and our coaches. I found our school’s been really, really supportive with the rebirth of it.”

Garriock is likely to suit up at midfield for the Raiders, in order to utilize her speed and well-rounded skill-set. Her role will be slightly different on the co-ed roster compared to the multiple-team female side, where interest continues to expand.

“Definitely intensity I would say, just to get the girls pumped,” she explained.

“The guys, I think we’re okay on that side. I want to show the girls that we can play the sport and that we’ll be fine. There’s lots of new high schools too who are just developing teams as well, so they’re on the same page as us. I want to show the team that it’s okay to make mistakes, and just making sure that I’m supportive of them and taking on that leadership role.”

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