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Teammates, best friends heading to World Series of Lacrosse Championships

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Tara Jeffrey

You couldn’t have written a better script.

Three best buddies, longtime teammates and elite, multi-sport athletes — all from Sarnia — now heading to the biggest lacrosse stage of their lives.

Noal Grondin, Cooper Kennedy and Kai Tope, all born in 2010, will represent Canada at the Youth Lacrosse World Series Championships in North Carolina next month, competing among the top 13u teams from the U.S., and a select group of international teams.

“We believe they’re the first kids out of this area to play in this World Series championships,” said Shaun Kennedy, father of Cooper Kennedy and longtime former coach of all three boys, who play out of Aurora-based Evolve Lacrosse, an elite program drawing youth from across Ontario.

Cooper Kennedy, Kai Tope and Noal Grondin. (Submitted photo)

All three have been playing together for nearly a decade — they also play locally for the Sarnia Pacers U15 lacrosse team under coach Brad Holbrough, and were recently selected to the 2023-2024 Lambton Jr. Sting AAA team under coach Mike Murphy.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing,” said Kennedy. “You don’t see this amount of talent very often — and the fact that they’re best friends just makes it that much better.”

It’s a lot of traveling but the proud parents all work together to make it happen, he added.

This month alone, the trio has won three championships with their respective teams: the Anthony Acchione Memorial Classic in Barrie and Owen Sound Minor Tournament with the Sarnia Pacers; and a field lacrosse tournament in Baltimore, Maryland with Evolve.

The Sarnia Pacers U15 Lacrosse team, which includes teammates Tope, Kennedy and Cooper, recently won both the Anthony Acchione Memorial Classic in Barrie and Owen Sound Minor Tournament, this month. (Submitted photo)

Grondin, who was selected to play for Team Ontario’s U13 Minor Box Lacrosse Team last summer at the National Championships in B.C., attends Gregory Hogan Catholic School, while Kennedy and Tope attend Cathcart school together.

“We’re all very excited,” said Kennedy, pointing to the World Series Championships that run July 1-3. “It all comes back to the kids — they’re the most dedicated, hardworking guys you could meet.

“They’ve put in the effort and they deserve it.”

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