CALGARY, AB – The landscape of lacrosse in Alberta is changing.
With the recent success of both Alberta-based National Lacrosse League teams, the sport is growing and changing for the better. One exciting change for Calgary Roughnecks captain Andrew McBride is his new position with the Alberta Lacrosse Association (ALA).
It was announced on Jan. 22nd that McBride was the new Technical Director for the ALA.
“The technical director role in the province, is one that oversees and deals with the teaching and the technical aspects of lacrosse,” ALA VP of Administration Greg Hartzler said. “So working with coaches, working with referees, working with organizations to grow the sport of lacrosse in the province. Those are probably the three key factors.”
Having been involved in lacrosse his whole life, McBride has dedicated his life to trying to grow the game.
This is another step towards that goal, he admitted.
“I’m very excited to be the Technical Director of Alberta,” McBride said. “It’s an exciting opportunity for me. Not only to develop grassroots lacrosse, but to help put Alberta lacrosse on the map as one of the best provinces in Canada.”
The sport has grown in Alberta significantly with the success of the NLL and specifically, the Calgary Roughnecks and the Edmonton Rush.
This success has had a direct effect on the ALA.
“The NLL has been great partner,” Hartzler said. “The Roughnecks and the Rush have been great partners. It seems that every time that the NLL does well, we tend to see a spike in our numbers. When you go back to when the Roughnecks originally came to Calgary, there was a large spike in the growth of minor lacrosse in the province.
“Lacrosse is changing. Lacrosse is becoming an option for a lot of kids. They are realizing that the game is there and that they have another option besides soccer or hockey, which are drawing thousands more. That growth is seeing more kids come to the game, more kids getting opportunities in the game, and the ability to play internationally and in the USA.”
Lacrosse has grown from a niche into a mainstream sport.
A big factor in that is the access to the professional venues. Being able to travel to these large markets to view a professional game or being able to watch the games on TV makes a big difference.
“I think it’s something great for kids to look up to,” McBride said. “Being able to come to big markets, into Edmonton and Calgary, and being able to come to games and look up to the Curtis Dickson’s and the Mark Matthews’, it’s something that’s really special. When I was growing up in BC, you went to senior games and many of the games weren’t on TV, so it’s not the level it is now.”
McBride has long been involved in the community and promoting the sport of lacrosse. Since 2010, he has overseen the Calgary Roughnecks Classroom Lacrosse program, presented by Painted Pony Petroleum, Ltd.
That experience is something that put McBride ahead of the curve.
“There’s a profile attached to it,” Hartzler said. “Being able to have somebody that has already been in the community, been successful with lacrosse in the community both as a professional player and as somebody that’s out there teaching in the community. That was something we thought Andrew could bring to the table that would enhance what where we want to do in the province.”
Along with Classroom Lacrosse, McBride is the head coach and assistant general manager of the Okotoks Raiders Junior Lacrosse team.
Having been a part of organizations at a multitude of levels of lacrosse is important for the technical director. It will give him the right perspective to enhance the sport at each level.
“It’s an interesting dichotomy,” McBride said. “From playing at a professional level, to coaching junior kids that are young adults, to working with kindergarten kids in Classroom Lacrosse. I think what I bring to the table is the ability to communicate and work with many different groups.
“As the captain of a professional team, you have to understand the guys that have other jobs, you really have to work with a bunch of different guys, different personalities.
“That’s something I’m really excited about. Working with the smaller communities, working with the bigger communities, and ultimately having a five to 10 year plan for Alberta.”
With over 10,000 kids already playing lacrosse in Alberta, McBride and the ALA will be trying to double that figure.
To do that, one of the first things the he wants to work on is communication. With so many different groups in Alberta, making sure that they all have the same objective will be key.
Another area of focus is coaching in lacrosse.
“I’m really going to try to work with the smaller communities as well as the bigger markets and try to get the coaches on the same page,” McBride said. “I think coaching lacrosse is such a hard and different task. We have a lot of great parent volunteers that have never played the game but are very keen to learn.”
Lacrosse has been a big part of McBride’s life.
It has provided him with a career and he wants to help kids reach their potential and build their own career in the sport.
“Lacrosse has afforded me so many opportunities and I’m trying to build on what I’ve accomplished,” McBride said. “As the technical director it’s my job to give them the tools necessary to be able to pass those onto the kids and have kids continue to play lacrosse, not only for one or two years, but to play up into the junior and the senior level and beyond.”
The technical director position has an interesting Roughnecks connection. Assistant coach Bruce Codd once filled the same role for the ALA.
McBride knows that having Codd’s knowledge and experience around will be a nice shoulder to lean on if he ever needs anything.
“It’ll be big shoes to fill,” stated McBride. “I’m sure I’ll be calling Bruce and getting some advice. I know he’s going to give me some positive advice and steer me in the right direction.”
McBride now begins this journey to grow the game.
While some people can get shortsighted and focus on their kid or their association, McBride plans to embrace all communities, big or small.
“We really need to look at the greater picture and the bigger plan to put Alberta lacrosse on the map to be on of the forefront provinces, not only in Canada, but also in North America,” McBride said.