One new team, three home openers.
The Vernon Iron Ghost Construction Tigers and Armstrong Junior Shamrocks of the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League have announced a merger between the two clubs.
The team, for 2023, will be called the Vernon Iron Ghost Tigers and will feature players from Vernon, Armstrong and Salmon Arm. The majority of players who dressed for the Shamrocks in 2022 were from the Shuswap.
Former Tigers head coach Chris Scabar is now the team’s governor. He said the merge was necessitated due to a lack of registrations at the minor level in all three communities.
“It’s just kind of dwindled since COVID,” he said. “Take Kamloops (TOJLL Venom) for example. They draw out of their minor lacrosse system. Here, we draw two junior teams out of two minor lacrosse organizations. We might have 15 players and we could lose a kid to injury or a game misconduct and we’re down a couple of bodies.
“After 16 games, it just deteriorates. We got beat so bad last year that we’re going to lose all the kids because they’re not going to want to come out.”
The newly minted club received league approval for the merge on Friday, March 10, and the three remaining teams in the league – the Kamloops Venom, South Okanagan Flames and Kelowna Kodiaks – passed on a player dispersal draft, allowing Vernon and Armstrong to combine their rosters.
“The kids want to play, the parents are ecstatic,” said Scabar. He will be going to elementary schools in the North Okanagan and Shuswap to introduce kids to the game of box lacrosse.
“We’re looking at about 30 kids to choose from. It’s commitment and registration, and that’s where we’ve struggled in the past and after COVID. “
The Shamrocks took a league leave of absence in 2019 due to a lack of committed players, but returned to the loop in 2022. There was no league play in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.
Each TOJLL team will play a 14-game schedule with the Tigers playing home games in Vernon (two), Salmon Arm (two) and Armstrong (three).
“We want to get the lacrosse blood back in all three towns,” said Scabar, adding there will be home openers for the Tigers in each venue.
The first game in Armstrong will be dedicated to the late Ken McGregor, a longtime junior lacrosse advocate in the city who died in late 2022.
Casey Sherriff, who was head coach of the Vernon Tigers in 2022, remains in the position with the merged squad. He will be joined by Armstrong assistant Dave Evans, Vernon assistant Garth Gartner and Shawn Kelley, a former teammate of Scabar’s with Ladner in the Lower Mainland.
Chad Wattie takes over as the team’s general manager.
The TOJLL will hold its annual Archie Jack Memorial Icebreaker Tournament in April in Armstrong or Enderby (dates to be finalized). Scabar is planning to invite some teams from the Lower Mainland to take part.
The Tigers are looking for an individual to be the club’s game-night announcer in all three cities, as well as volunteer physiotherapists.
Anybody interested in either position can call Scabar at 250-540-9879.
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Junior SportsLacrosseLocal SportsNorth Okanagan Regional DistrictVernon