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Colorado’s Robert Hope Spends Summers Coaching in Hometown

You cant spell Peterborough without Robert Hope.

Many National Lacrosse League fans know Hope as the humble, hardworking captain of the Colorado Mammoth, and rightly so. His history with Colorado runs deep. Hope was drafted seventh overall by the Mammoth in the 2014 NLL Entry Draft and has been a focal point of the teams leadership group for over half a decade. He has been a finalist for the NLL Defensive Player of the Year twice, and, most recently, he finished the 2023-24 NLL Regular Season as one of the leagues top defenders.

But when Hope isn’t giving his heart and soul to Colorado and the Mammoth, he is dedicating seemingly all of his time to lacrosse teams in his hometown of Peterborough, Ontario.

Growing up three blocks from the Memorial Centre, the home of the Peterborough Sr. A and Jr. A Lakers, Hope and his brother Will attended many Lakers games. During the summer season, they would walk or ride their bikes to the arena and meet up with their cousins and friends to enjoy a great night of competitive lacrosse.

Just as Madison Square Garden is the Mecca of basketball for New York City, the Memorial Centre is the Mecca for lacrosse in Peterborough. It has been hosting Peterboroughs lacrosse games since 1957.

We would always come to the games together,” Hope said. It would either be by myself or him or my cousins or friends. We kind of all had the opportunity to grow up together – we all brought our sticks to different birthday parties. Lacrosse and sports were a big part of our childhood and upbringing.”

In Peterborough, lacrosse is commonplace. The game is engrained in the culture. Lacrosse has been a part of Peterborough for more than 150 years, and at the Sr. A level, they had their first dynasty in the 1950s – the Peterborough Timbermen/Trailermen (now Lakers) won four consecutive Mann Cup championships from 1951-1954. These were Peterboroughs first Mann Cup trophies – they now have 18.

Robert Hope is also captain of the Peterborough Sr. A Lakers (Photo: David Pickering)

For a city with a population under 100,000 people, they have produced quite a few unbelievably talented lacrosse players, particularly those who have played a major role in the NLL. John Grant Jr. (and John Grant Sr., who played in the original NLL in 1974 and 1975), Paul Day, Tracey Kelusky, Shawn Evans, Zach Currier, Holden Cattoni, Jake Withers and countless others are products of Peterborough. Even before the NLL, Peterborough was producing top level lacrosse players for decades.

Im very proud to be from Peterborough,” Hope said. There’s a culture here that started well before me. I look up to all of these guys that have played before me. From the success that they had in the 50s and 60s with Bobby Allan and John Grant Sr., it’s a really tight community, the lacrosse community within Peterborough, with so many amazing people.”

Over the last 20 years, the Lakers have gone back to their dominating ways. Since 2004, the Lakers have won nine Mann Cups, including four consecutive championships* from 2017-2022 (* No Mann Cup was awarded in 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic). Hope was a leading figure in each of those championship wins.

For Hope, winning those championships was special. Not only was he helping to secure new hardware for the Lakers’ trophy case, but he was also adding to the legacy of lacrosse excellence in Peterborough. Upholding that standard is important to Hope; that is why he has made a concerted effort to coach the next generations of lacrosse players in town.

From coaching field lacrosse at Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School to being the head coach on the bench of the Peterborough Jr. A Lakers, Hope aspires to provide the same guidance that his former coaches in Peterborough gave him. Hope had the privilege of learning under top-tier lacrosse minds such as Tracey Kelusky, Dan Carey and Mat Giles.

Kelusky, of course, is currently the head coach of Panther City Lacrosse Club, while Carey is the current GM of the Rochester Knighthawks, and Giles is a former assistant coach of the Knighthawks (Kelusky and Giles also co-coach the offence for the Sr. A Lakers). Thats not a bad trip to have learned from during a lacrosse players most formative years.

Robert Hope (centre) mans the bench for the Peterborough Jr. A Lakers along with Curtis Conley and Turner Evans (Photo: Craig Robertson/OLA)

Coaching has always been a passion of mine starting with the guys that I coached in field (high school teams), and had some success there,” Hope said. It’s a passion and something I want to do – give back and teach. My profession as a teacher and coach kind of goes hand-in-hand.”

Hope admits that growing up, he was not always the leading star on his teams. Hes known that becoming a superb lacrosse player is a never-ending work in progress. He knows first-hand that seeing growth along the journey is one of the most satisfying things about participating in sports. That is one of the aspects he enjoys most about coaching.

Being on the bench and seeing his players improve game-over-game and season-over-season are significant motivating factors in all of his coaching positions.

“It’s a very rewarding process to watch growth in anything,” Hope said. “To see guys where they start and then how they progress through time – guys that we coached in junior that are now with the senior team or that are now in the NLL or PLL – it’s cool to see.”

Even though he began coaching the Jr. A team three summers ago, Hope has worked with players who are now in the NLL such as Deacan Knott and Landon Kells, as well as Mike Robinson, drafted 28th overall to the Halifax Thunderbirds in the 2023 NLL Entry Draft.

This season, Hope has the Jr. A Lakers sitting at 9-7 and in fourth place with four games left in the regular season. If they can hold on to that fourth spot, the Lakers will finish with their highest place in the OJLL standings since 2015, when they finished in second place. That 2015 Peterborough Jr. A roster included many guys that are now in the NLL including the likes of Holden Cattoni, Jake Withers, Zach Currier, Matt Gilray, Thomas Hoggarth and Bryce Sweeting.

“We always preach to guys to improve, improve, improve each and every time we get together,” Hope said. “We really want to do something better. Theres always something out there that we can improve upon – not having the mentality to think, ‘Oh, we‘re done here.’ We should be constantly learning through everything that we do.”

Doing something better” could be the slogan for Peterborough lacrosse because thats what they’ve done, generally speaking; they just do lacrosse better than most places on the planet.

As a coach, Hope is preparing the next wave of lacrosse stars to continue that legacy. As a player in the NLL, Hope is an example of what future Peterborough lacrosse players should strive to become.