BY: Alana Thoman
The K-W Braves tyke rep box lacrosse team came home from the Ontario Lacrosse Association provincials as gold medallists in the B division. The team competed in the Ontario Lacrosse Festival in Whitby from Aug. 5 to 7.
Stefanie Mavin, team manager, said the teams were placed in divisions based on how they did in the regular season. Because the Braves placed between 16th and 32nd, they were put in the B division.
There were five different divisions, going from A to E, which added up to more than 70 tyke teams competing in the festival from across the province.
The Braves faced off against Huntsville, Whitby, Milton, New Tecumseth and Barrie twice. Head coach Mark Tinning said the win was a bit of an underdog story as the team was ranked 11th out of the 16 teams in the division.
"They showed a lot of tenacity and a lot of hard work and we had a lot of different players step up at different times, and that's the only way you can do that because six games in three days is really tough and exhausting on these kids," said Tinning.
Tinning said it was a huge step for the team to beat the Milton Mavericks in the quarter-final game as the Mavericks had beaten the Braves four times in the regular season. He said he was proud of his team for going on to beat the No. 1 seed, New Tecumseth, in the semifinals, then defeating the fifth-seed Barrie Bombers in the finals.
"Our boys deserve a lot of credit because they worked really hard and we came together as a team at the right time," said Tinning. "You know we were just happy to see these kids who have worked so hard, be successful. They committed to the message that we were giving and they stepped up and worked their butts off."
Assistant coach Matthew Baxter said he was surprised and excited.
"The coaches just ran and hugged each other," said Baxter.
Mavin said this is only the ninth time a Kitchener tyke team has taken home a gold medal since 1962, and only the second time at the B level. The last win in the B division was in 2011.
Liam Mavin, 7, is a goalie for the Braves and first started playing when he was three years old. He said what he loves most about the sport is when everyone runs up to the goalies at the end of the game and when he gets to high five his team.
"I felt excited when we won," said Liam. "Everyone threw their equipment in the air."
Liam said he felt extra proud after winning because his mentor and goalie coach Ryan Bordon, was on the Kitchener tyke team that won in 2011. He said Bordon has taught him things like how to stand in position and how to hold his stick.
He said he looks up to him and wants to be a goalie like him when he's older.
Bentley Wideman, 7, started playing lacrosse when he was five years old. He said he loves how well he gets along with his team and how they are all friends.
Bentley, who plays defence for the Braves, was very happy when the Braves won.
"I felt good," he said. "We ran and jumped on the goalie."
Bentley said the team's success came from its hard work and it also had a lot to do with his coaches.
"They taught me passing and running," he said. "We had a really good season."
Aidan Tinning, who started playing when he was three years old, agrees.
"I think they did a good job coaching our team this year," he said. "They help me and are always there for the team."
Aidan said the team got along really well this year and worked really hard.
Mark Tinning said the work ethic of his team made him the proudest.
"Getting seven- and eight-year-olds to have a work ethic at such a young age, for me, made me really proud," said Tinning. "I was looking at the other coaches at the end like, 'Are you kidding me?' It was very exciting. I think I was more excited than I have been when I won championships when I played."
Oliver Warden, 8, said there were many reasons his team was successful.
"We ran our hardest, worked our hardest, passed the ball, listened to our coaches, made some smart plays and that's how we did it," he said.
Oliver, who scored the winning goal in the championship game, started playing when he was three and said he wants to keep lacrosse in his life for a long time.
"I like how there is a bunch of hitting, goal scoring and celebrating and I'd like to keep on winning," he said. "I like to play with my friends."
Jackson Baxter, 8, who started playing when he was three, said he believed in his team's chance of winning provincials.
"We worked together and our goalie saved some goals for us," he said.
Jackson said he is very proud of his team and had a fun time playing.
"I like playing with my friends," he said. "They are my family."
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