Beaches Jr. A lacrosse looks for fresh start

New coaches, new uniforms and new coaches hope to bring a winning attitude to local squad

After a dismal summer season last year, the Beaches Jr. A lacrosse team is starting fresh with new uniforms, new equipment and new coaches.

The overhaul started with new general manager Brody Merrill who was once named the best player in the world by Inside Lacrosse.

Board member Jack Wilkinson thought Merrill would be a good fit for the team.

Not only a lacrosse expert, Merrill also lives in the Beach. His connections in the lacrosse community helped fill the empty coach’s bench.

Current Toronto Rock player and former bench boss of the Calgary Raiders Jr. A team Bruce Codd, who played Jr. A with Merrill, was brought on as the new head coach.

“I’m very familiar with him. I grew up with him,” Codd says. “I knew it would be an exciting challenge with a history of a good team here. Everything just seemed to fit well.”

With a slate of new coaches, and a poor showing last year, the team has a lot of challenges to overcome. At an April exhibition game at the end of their preseason training camp, the Brampton Excelsiors beat the Beaches squad 8-4.

Codd is part of the overhaul that is aiming to eliminate those types of losses.

“The last few years, they definitely struggled a little bit. It’s been five or six years since we’ve been in the playoffs,” he says. “We just kind of wanted to change things up and start a little bit fresh.”

Wilkinson acknowledges the coaching overhaul is a big change for his young players.

“They seem to be adjusting to the change,” he says. “It’s going to be a lot harder work, more discipline and it should be good for the team.”

With only one player from last year’s team leaving due to his age, the 2012 roster may be filled with a lot of familiar faces, including 2011’s leading scorer Jordan Robinson.

“He’s a young guy, he’s still got two years of junior after this year,” says Codd. “He’d certainly be a guy you want to keep your eye on.”

Bruce also says goalies Tyler McKendrick and Mike Lalani are both strong and will be players to watch this season.

The team’s new faces are generating a lot of buzz.

“Our first draft pick this year, Jackson Hulbert, is another guy that we expect some pretty good things from,” says Bruce.

Given the club’s recent history, Codd’s goals for the season are modest.

“Obviously our goal is first and foremost to get into the playoffs,” says Codd. “Goal number two would be to make some noise in the playoffs and try to steal a round or two.”

Their ultimate goal is to win the Minto Cup, something the team has never done in its history.

“I think every team at this level has to have that goal in mind,” says Codd. “Otherwise maybe you shouldn’t be in this league.”

The game plan is to work hard. The team practises at least twice a week on top of playing around three games a week as well.

“I’m a big believer in that hard work carries you a long way,” says Codd.

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By: Paula Sanderson
Posted: Jun 6 2012 5:31 pm
Filed in: Sports
Edition: Toronto