Brett Bilodeau, 11, is flying high after tryouts with lacrosse’s Team BC last month.
And although he didn’t make the squad, Bilodeau says the experience has motivated him to go further with his lacrosse career.
Bilodeau plays for the Alberni Lacrosse Peewee Tyees. In April he attended the Island camp at Fuller Lake Arena in Cowichan. “I was on the floor for three hours and we did four games and a practice,” he said.
“I didn’t feel like I was going to make it. There was a lot of really good talent there. I ended up making it,” Bilodeau said.
He knew a few of the players from Victoria, Nanaimo and Comox; there were 50 in all.
Another Tyee player, goaltender Diego Hopkins, also went to the district camp and was chosen as the third goalie out of five. He just missed going to the main camp by one player, Brett’s father and peewee coach Steve Bilodeau said.
Fifteen players moved on from the Island, one of four regions in the province.
The Team BC tryouts were May 13–15 at the Langley Event Centre. There were 60 runners including Brett and eight goalies.
“I was so anxious to get on the floor with the best players in BC,” Brett said.
“It was easily the best experience of my life, even though I didn’t make it. Just being in the company with the best players in BC was a great feeling.”
“We play B lacrosse here in Port Alberni,” Steve said. “What Brett experienced was A1. He was the only B-level player at the Team BC tryouts.
“He’s been wanting to go to this camp. Religiously he’s been talking about it for two years. You are only allowed to try out in peewee; this was his first try,” Steve said.
Brett started playing lacrosse six years ago. “I was born in Nanaimo and it’s huge there,” he said. “We went to Victoria when I was six and I went to a game and loved it.”
He played his first season in Victoria, where his father Steve was working at the Oak Bay arena (Steve looks after the AV Multiplex now). This is his fifth season playing in Port Alberni.
Bilodeau comes from a lacrosse family: Steve, who is also coach of the peewee Tyees, played lacrosse when he was a kid growing up in Kitimat. “When I moved here in 1982 lacrosse had folded,” Steve said. “I never got the chance to play through the years that Brett has.”
Brett plays recreational hockey in the winter, where he says shooting a puck is the same as shooting a ball in lacrosse. “It’s the same thing,” he said. “Playing with the one sport I’ve gotten better with my hand-eye coordination.”
He also plays basketball on a school team at Maquinna Elementary.
The Alberni Valley lacrosse program has five teams in total: one each of tyke, novice, peewee, bantam and midget levels. “We have one in every age group, which is big because we haven’t had a midget team in quite a while,” said Steve.
The lacrosse association has been applying for grants to build a new outdoor lacrosse box at Gyro Recreation Park on Ninth Avenue at Dunbar Street.
Brett decided to share his story even though he didn’t make it to Team BC because he sees it as a success.
“Brett said he wanted to come back and empower other kids to go deep and try the district camp,” Steve said.
“There are kids that are good enough to go,” Brett said.
For more information about lacrosse in the Alberni Valley, check out the association’s website at albernilacrosse.com.