Cranking up the Heat

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The summer weather isn’t the only thing heating up in the Lakeland.

The Lakeland Heat bantam girls lacrosse team is headed to provincials from July 12 to the 15 in Calgary.

Head coach Rod Pettigrew saw lots of improvements over the season with how the team performed on the field.

“Our offence and defence really started to come together,” he said.

Since the provincial format changed this year, the Heat just had to declare their interest in attending in order to qualify for the tournament.

Amelia Gurski, a local player, admits she was a little nervous about joining the bantam team at first, but they rallied around her to make her feel welcome.

“It was originally a little scary because I was called up from peewee, but it’s been a lot of fun,” she said.

Fellow player Mackenzie Pettigrew sees lacrosse as an opportunity for anyone who enjoys physical sports to get out and be active, and has spent the season adjusting to the bantam level.

“I’ve been working on my passing, catching, and picking up the ball,” explained Mackenzie.

Mackenzie enjoyed meeting all of the new girls on the team during the season, and teaching them how to improve during practices.

Players on the team are from all over the Lakeland. Some of the girls play on a mixed boys team during the regular season.

“We had a bunch of girls who don’t normally play together, and we tried to practice as much as we could to become a cohesive unit during the season,” Pettigrew explained, adding he was worried about the girls coming together as a team.

Although Pettigrew hopes to win a few games during provincials, there’s one thing he wants his team to focus on.

“We could lose every game, as long as the girls give it their all, that’s all a coach can hope for,” he expressed. “As long as they show their determination and play as hard as they can.”

Gurski’s interest in the sport was sparked a few years ago by a friend, and she’s enjoyed playing ever since.

“I started playing after watching a friend’s game, and I just fell in love with the sport.”

Pettigrew hopes the girls continue to improve their game, and believes there’s potential for some to be offered scholarships for college or university later on.

Lacrosse has been gaining popularity in Bonnyville since the Heat started in Cold Lake in 2005, Pettigrew expressed the last season saw over 300 players in the association.

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