The popularity of lacrosse has not yet led to a registration cap for the box game, although that is a possibility for the next field season. But both require more space to play.
“No official ‘capping’ yet, but we are getting close,” said Ron Williams, president of the Ridge Meadows Minor Lacrosse Association.
“Our growth is crazy,” he added. “We are the largest field and box club in the province.”
And one of the more successful.
The Burrards won one gold medals and two silver and three bronze at the 2016 B.C. field lacrosse championships.
At the 2015 provincial box lacrosse championships, the Burrards won four gold and three silvers.
As well, the association boasts close to 20 players representing Team B.C. programs in both box and field.
“Credit goes to the players and coaches,” Williams said.
But they need some help.
Box lacrosse has 688 registered players this season: 37 teams (27 boys, 10 girls). That total is up from 620 last season and 535 in 2014.
The association, however, does not have enough outdoor boxes to run tryouts.
Williams said other municipalities, such as Coquitlam, Port Moody and Langley, have covered boxes that are available year-round and allow for all-weather play.
“We have nothing like that here,” he said.
“Once we are up and running, our arenas are adequate for our programs. We have enough room. We would like more subsidized time, though.”
He said rental rates, especially in Pitt Meadows, are high. Nustadia charges close to $70 hour at Pitt Meadows Arenas, while the city rents Cam Neely Arena at Planet Ice in Maple Ridge to the association for about $48.
Williams said other municipalities pay closer to $30 for floor time, which is the biggest cost to the local club and the reason its fees are among the more expensive.
For field lacrosse, Williams said the association may have to cap registration this coming season.
It had 342 players and 17 teams this past season, and two home game slots on turf. Once the weather worsened and grass fields were closed, the association had just two or three teams playing on home turf each weekend, and 14 or 15 on the road.
“The league has ordered us to find more turf time,” Williams said. “As well, we have to have four teams practice on one field, at all times.”
That is a disadvantage to teams because they don’t have space to run important drills.
He said the association struggles to get teams one to two practices a week.
“All of our opponents receive two practices.”
In fairness, he said the association does have a fair amount of grass time every week.
“But the grass fields are usually closed for he bulk of our season.”
The minor lacrosse association has met with Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read while the city considers borrowing money to improve sports and recreation facilities.
“Our main focus was more turf field time,” Williams said. “She seems to be listening, and I understand there are turf fields in the immediate plan.”
The association would also like a third outdoor box, a covered one. The two existing uncovered boxes are difficult to use in the rainy season, and the association doesn’t have enough room for every team to practice during the week.
Williams said a new covered box would presumably be built in Pitt Meadows, allowing more teams time for tryouts and practices, and give them to play “proper lacrosse on a dry floor.”