CALGARY, AB — One dad works as a TV/film director whose work includes episodes of CBC’s drama Heartland. Another runs the popular Rocky’s Burgers food truck at Crossroads Market.
A third founded Pete the Plumber, instantly familiar across the city for the blue-hued Incredible Hulk-like brandishing a wrench that adorns the side of the business trucks.
Their sons are locally born and reared, all.
And budding Calgary Roughnecks, to boot.
“Oh, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be,’’ says transition player Tony Tremblay on Day One of training camp, fitness testing out at WinSport. “We’ve had season tickets forever. This is where I want to play.
“This is the team I’ve always wanted to play for.”
During the 2016 NLL draft a couple months back, the ‘Necks went local heavy, selecting Peterborough Lakers/John Hopkins University gunner Holden Cattoni fifth overall, followed by three prospects off the Calgary Mountaineers of the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League – Jake Archdekin (36th), Tremblay (45th) and defenceman Austin Rockwell (53rd).
They represent the offshoot, this youthful group, of the ‘Necks formative years here. The happy by-product of developing a hardcore fan base, of on-floor success capable of sparking imaginations and planting the seeds of competitive ambition.
Holdover Bob Snider, Geoff’s brother, and goaltender Jordan Kancsal raise the Calgary representation at this camp to a half dozen.
“Growing up, going to the games, watching those players, of course it inspired you,’’ says Archdekin. “You idolized those guys – Tracey (Kelusky), Kaleb Toth.
“We practiced their moves.
“They were our examples to follow.”
With his father the founder of the Pete the Plumber business, it makes perfect sense that Archdekin is a defender, entrusted with plugging leaks.
“My dad got me into the sport. He played growing up in Brampton,’’ he explains. “His dad and my uncle (enjoyed lacrosse), too, so it’s a family-based thing.
“He coached me from a young age right up until midget.
“Seeing his logo there on the floor at the Saddledome during games is cool. Hopefully I can run around out there and make him proud.”
Tremblay is a Southwest kid, Lakeview to be specific, from an artistic family. This past year he worked as a lamp operator on the Heartland set for his director dad, Pierre.
“Tracey Kelusky is the one who got me hooked on lacrosse, though the National Sports Academy,’’ says Tremblay, echoing a familiar refrain.
“A big influence, for sure, on a lot of Calgary lacrosse players, especially my age. Starting when I eight years old, I saw him play and thought: ‘I wanna be that guy.’
“I wantTony Tremblay looks to make a pass at Roughnecks Training camp.ed to be No. 17.
“I’m a completely different player but just the way he carried himself, such a leader, made such an impression. He coached me for a while and became a mentor. So intense. And he brought that part out in us, his players. That’s been my lacrosse career.
“It’s a big jump, from junior to the NLL. But I think if I keep pushing the pace, pushing the ball up the floor, the way I have my whole career, and make smart decisions hopefully I’ll make an impression.”
The potential unique distractions of playing in a hometown, they all agree, are worth it for the opportunity.
“I just plan on going out and doing my thing,’’ reasons Rockwell, who gets his burgers gratis out at Crossroads. “There are guys here I know, which always helps.
“I guess I’m the same as a lot of us, but back in the day Tracey Kelusky was The Guy for me. Aggressive, high-paced, tenacious.
“I want to play like him. Give it all I’ve got here and hopefully they can’t say no.”
On that list of local hopefuls, the DeWinton-born Cattoni is there surest thing, expected to stick, start and make an impact.
That lofty draft position also ensures him drawing the most scrutiny.
“I don’t really want to just be thought of as just the ‘new guy in camp’,’’ Cattoni says bluntly. “I want to make the team and contribute right away. Those are my goals.
“Any external pressure I block out. Playing at home is a different experience, for sure. A bit more of a challenge, I’d say because more eyes are on you.
“But I couldn’t be happier than to be where I’m at right now.
“Having four or five of us here shows the growth in Calgary lacrosse. All of us are hoping to stay around awhile.”
That’s the plan.
Making the plan a reality, stresses ‘Necks’ coach Curt Malawsky, means balancing many factors.
“No. 1, they have to realize: They earned it. They went to the Combine, they battled, they competed and they showed how important this is to them.
“That’s the first hurdle. You’re committing to the game, we’re going to commit to you. So enjoy it. But don’t sit there, star-struck. You’ve got to continue to do what got you drafted.
“It’s a special time. Be excited, soak it all up because not many kids get to play for their hometown team. But don’t be satisfied, otherwise it’ll pass you by real quick.”
For the lot of them, the local, this training camp represents an opportunity that began years ago, down at the Saddledome or on floors across the city.
In summing up, then, let Jake Archdekin be the unofficial spokesman for the group:
“The Calgary lacrosse community is small, tight-knit,’’ he reminds you. “So they’d come to your lacrosse camps, attend practices. You were so close to your heroes, they weren’t off, at arm’s length, so it was great.
“We grew up being Calgary Roughnecks fans.
“Those players, they’re the ones who inspired us to try and reach this level.
“Hopefully, someday we can do the same for someone else.”