When coaching, Chris Fox prefers the direct approach.
“You’re going to have to work on your decision-making,” Fox told one player after the physically impressive, but sometimes indecisive, youth lost the ball on three turnovers during scrimmaging at the Langley Events Centre on Saturday, Jan. 4.
Blunt as he was, Fox was also encouraging.
“You’re young. You have plenty of time,” Fox observed.
Then, they shook hands.
It was one of four regional combines held by the Canadian Lacrosse League to evaluate players for potential inclusion on the roster for the 2020 International Indoor Junior Lacrosse (IIJL) World Junior Lacrosse Championship in Winnipeg later this year and other preliminary IIJL events.
The others were in Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan.
On Saturday (Jan. 4) 40 B.C. athletes were put through their paces by Fox, Canadian Lacrosse League founder and IIJL tournament chair, along with other coaching staff.
To get picked, players must have two traits, Fox told the Langley Advance Times.
“Athleticism,first and foremost, and then, ‘lacrosse IQ.'”
Fox liked what he saw in Langley.
“It’s off-season, so sticks are pretty rusty,” Fox commented.
“But compete-wise, it was good.”
Junior level players are more advanced than they used to be, he added.
“It’s the young guys that are really impressive, they ‘re starting to get a lot more physical at a young age.”
The Langley combine began with a series of drills designed to test athletic speed, strength, agility, and endurance.
Results from the athletic testing are shared with players to provide them with a metric of where they rank amongst their peers in their respective combine and collectively across all four combines.
Even if they aren’t picked, players benefit from the intensive afternoon, Fox maintained.
“Anyone walking away is walking away with some value added from the coaching.”
At the completion of the athletic testing, players were split into two teams, Team Red and Team White, and competed in a full scrimmage using National Lacrosse League rules and three-man officiating crew.
A video camera recorded the game for later review.
Each regional combine is limited to 40 different players, 36 runners and four goaltenders.
Bigger numbers would be too hard to assess, Fix explained.
“Any more than that, there’s not enough eyeballs [to properly assess players].”
Fox said players who excel at the combines only “become available” for the world championships after their home teams finish their seasons, in order to ensure players don’t have to choose between their local leagues and international competition.
Nearly 300 of the world’s best junior-aged box lacrosse players and their coaches will compete in the 2020 IIJL World Junior Lacrosse Championship set for August 3-9, 2020 in Winnipeg
Fox views the event as an opportunity to re-establish lacrosse as Canada’s national sport by “introducing elite level lacrosse to Canadian communities that do not have the NLL or Junior A.”
Any potential profits of the event will be used by the IIJL to develop the game of box lacrosse internationally and support local Winnipeg and Manitoba grassroots lacrosse and First Nations programs.