With the second annual Jr. NLL Tournament set to get underway, excitement is in the air and soon enough 21 youth clubs, representing eight NLL franchises, will hit the floor at Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (TRAC) in Oakville, Ontario this weekend.
Hosted by the Toronto Rock, this year’s tournament will feature young, talented box lacrosse players across the Peewee, Bantam and Midget age levels. The Jr. NLL program provides these players a chance to develop their indoor box lacrosse skills and potentially play alongside and learn from their idols. In a family-friendly environment, teams will follow NLL playing rules with plenty of NLL players, coaches and staff expected to be in attendance.
“The TRAC is one of, if not the best facilities I have been in," said Eric Law, former Jr. Mammoth and University of Denver alumnus who now plays for the NLL’s Colorado Mammoth. "It is a facility that every town needs to get for kids playing lacrosse year round. [Rock owner] Jamie Dawick is doing unbelievable things in the lacrosse world."
As the first player in the youth's program history to ascend to the ranks of a professional team, Law has truly begun to make a name for himself in the box lacrosse world.
“Being born and raised in Denver, it is a pleasure to be able to have the opportunity to play for the Mammoth," Law said. "Any time you are playing for your home state and city, it’s a special feeling."
As an esteemed former member of the Jr. Mammoth, Eric described his time with the Jr. NLL team as an unbelievable experience where he was able to play box lacrosse for the first time.
“Being able to have interaction with the Mammoth organization was second to none," Law said. "Ever since I was playing for the Jr. Mammoth, I have dreamed about playing for this organization.”
Eric’s time in the Jr. NLL league allowed him to develop his box lacrosse game where he is now able to play in the two-man game and has become fully comfortable playing in tight spaces. Eric also attributes his smooth stick handling skills to the time he dedicates to box lacrosse.
Describing the Jr. NLL tournament as an event that young players will never forget, Law described the memorable experience.
“From a player's standpoint, it’s awesome to have the Jr. league because it shows how much the kids love the sport and love supporting your team. Kids are playing like they are the big guys and it’s fun to watch and is humbling.”
Friends and families from all NLL cities travel far distances to support their young box lacrosse stars. Cheering from the stands and offering words of wisdom throughout the weekend long tournament, these supporters are important for many young players.
“My biggest supporters throughout my career have definitely been my parents and family," Law said. "They have been very supportive and always there to help motivate me to keep striving towards my goal."
To all young players wanting to make their mark in the lacrosse world and play professionally one day, Law explained that it takes time, dedication and a very strong work ethic.
“Never stop working hard towards your dreams. There will be a lot of times you need to sacrifice for the dreams but don’t let anything stop you.”