The buzz is building at Murdoch MacKay Collegiate, as the school prepares to field a brand new lacrosse team for the upcoming MHSFLL season. Started by teacher and head coach Steven Bell – a 2001 high school graduate who played box for Norberry and the Sidewinders and field for Glenlawn – the program has been putting in work since the end of 2021.
“I think I heard rumblings that there was a team years and years ago, but it’s out of the memory of the school, so I’m going to say it’s like our first team ever. I’ve been here for six years and I’ve been wanting to start this up but I just ended up doing it this year,” he noted.
“I put the feelers out at the end of November to see if there was interest. There was enough and we got the ball rolling from there. We held a mini-camp, three day practice the very last three days before Christmas break. We were able to get some sticks in. Our admin supported us and they bought us some equipment. The kids had a blast. We’ve been going for two practices a week since the middle of January.”
The team, which also includes assistant coach Jacob Kolench, assistant coach and athletic therapist Ryan Cumpsty and manager Robyn Grehan, is largely new to the sport. Just one of the 25 total players has experience playing lacrosse, while there are a collection of multi-sport athletes, including high school football quarterback and CTV Bowl finalist Zak Kwiatek. Others joined the team as a way to get involved in the school culture.
“We have one of the two box goalies for the Manitoba provincial team, Cooper Seniuk, he’s in grade 11. The other 24 have never played. We legitimately started with the first time holding a stick. We have some kids who have never played a sport, we have lots of kids who have never been involved with anything at the school, which is the best part,” said Bell.
“Being part of the school community is really what it’s about. Winning games is great, but just being part of the school is truthfully what the team should be about, and is. It’s been fun to watch them all develop. Everyone is so much better than they were three months ago.”
One of the fun ways Murdoch has built an identity is with their team name and logo, which is separate from the school emblem (they will still have Murdoch on their jerseys but this is a secondary logo).
Known as the Murdoch Mayhem Lacrosse Club and donning a double M filled in by their school’s trademark green, they ordered clothing, along with designing a jersey and other fun items. The players on the team had a say in what the product looked like, and they worked with Donna McCartney at The Sports Xpress to shore up the jersey.
“We’re building it into the kid’s fees. They’re all over it. They got to help design it, so every year the kids will have a new jersey to take home. It’s just all these things that build a sense of place within the school. That’s what I think is cool about it too,” said Bell.
“The idea here is to create a lacrosse culture, that’s my idea is to start it this year and hopefully we have some success and build off of it from there. We have a good graphics department here, so the kids are able to get in there and do stickers for the team. They’re creating window decals and helmet decals and advertisements around the school.They’re jumping on board and it’s awesome. It’s fabulous to see.”