Sydney McDonald is heading to Calgary next month, but the trip is far from a vacation.
Rather than take in the Stampede or see the sights, the 17-year-old member of the Sarnia Pacers Intermediate squad will be panning for gold with Team Ontario at the Canadian Junior Girls Box Lacrosse Championship.
She was named to the provincial team following evaluation camps in Guelph and Whitby.
In just her sixth season of playing organized lacrosse, McDonald has quickly risen to the top of her game. In fact, she only took up box lacrosse as a way to stay active in the summer.
“I didn’t know what lacrosse was when I first started,” she said with a laugh. “I didn’t even know what a stick was.”
McDonald gave the sport a try at the invitation of her parents, Steve and Denise, who are both involved with the Sarnia Pacers minor lacrosse system as executive members and coaches.
Denise McDonald is the head coach of her daughter’s Intermediate team, while Sydney helps her dad, Steve, coach the Sarnia Midget girls team.
Team Ontario will gather June 13 to begin preparations for the national tournament, at which time the Grade 12 Northern student will get a better sense of her role with the club.
“I like to use my speed,” she said. “I like playing offense.”
She notes it’s always a challenge to have players from across the province come together as a cohesive unit in a short time.
“I’ll find it difficult because I haven’t played with any of these girls,” said McDonald. “I’m the only girl from Sarnia on the team, so it’ll be different adjusting to them.”
But, she’s equally confident the experience of the coaching staff for the provincial team, led by Oshawa-area head coach and Team Canada veteran Troyhann Santos, will help bring them team together for the July 21-25 tournament.
“We have good coaches and they’ll push us,” said McDonald. “We’ll do well in Calgary.”
Ontario is the defending champion after winning the tournament last season in Whitby.