For aspiring field lacrosse players in the U.S. and Canada, a trip to the Rockies is considered a rite of passage. The University of Denver Team Camp, hosted by the Denver Pioneers men’s lacrosse program, features some of the sport’s best players, both past and present.
Hall of fame coach Bill Tierney, who guided Princeton to six national championships before signing on in Denver in 2010, patrols the sidelines.
For Pitt Meadows player Mackenzie Rope, a second pilgrimage to field lacrosse’s holy land in Denver is the perfect opportunity to showcase his skills as post secondary education and a chance at a scholarship beckon.
While the 14-year-old still has time to make up his mind, a chance to play field lacrosse while getting an education is definitely on the skilled centre’s radar.
“That would be fantastic,” said Rope, who also thrives playing fileld lacrosse for his school at Pitt Meadows secondary and the box game with Team B.C.
“I would like to take something at university where I can give back to my community.”
For now, Rope is contributing to his teammates success.
Playing for the Burnaby Mountain Selects U-15 team in Denver, the young forward helped guide the team to a silver medal at the prestigious Pioneers Team Camp tourney. And for the second straight year, Rope was named to the camp’s all-star team.
Brent Hoskins, head coach of the Simon Fraser University men’s lacrosse team, was one of the coaches for the U-15 Burnaby team, as well. He said Rope’s skill level will serve him well for years to come in the sport.
“Mackenzie makes an impact in all areas of the game,” said Hoskins, no slouch in the coaching ranks himself.
Hoskins has guided the SFU Clan to eight Pacific Northwest Collegiate Lacrosse League championships since 1997.
“He played a key role for us in transition as one of our top face-off specialists and was one of our main contributors offensively.”
Rope said Hoskins has opened his eyes to improving his game, especially when it comes to his stick work.
“Box lacrosse is a much more one-handed game. But with field lacrosse, you’ve got to be able to switch hands and make more moves. The level of competition in the U.S. is much harder, because the field game is bigger than box lacrosse,” said Rope.
He also credits Hoskins for improving his game when it comes to face-offs. He said Hoskins emphasizes the positives in players’ games and doesn’t criticize when someone makes a mistake.
“That’s one of my passions as a player – winning face-offs. Possession is such a key part of the game and I love the way Hoskins approaches the game.”
Rope helped the BMS U-15 Selects out-score their opponents 65-34 and go 4-1 in the preliminary round of the Denver tournament, which recorded temperatures of more than 100 degrees F.
“The heat was so intense. It’s a different game there because of the oxygen levels. Up here, you might be able to take a two- or three-minute shift. Down there. you’re lucky if you can last a minute,” said Rope.
Awarded the top seed following round-robin play, the Selects doubled-up No. 3 Denver Elite in the semis, before falling 8-5 to the Golden State Titans in a back-and-forth final.
Hoskins said the sky is the limit as far as Rope’s future goes in field lacrosse, as long as he continues to put forth the tremendous work effort he’s shown so far.
Hoskins doubts he’ll see a drop-off.
“Selected as a U-13 tournament all-star at the Denver team camp last summer, this is the second straight year that Mackenzie has been named to the tournament all-star team after moving up an age division in 2012,” said Hoskins.
“Mackenzie is a great athlete and looks to have a very bright future in the sport of field lacrosse.”
Rope said he wouldn’t be the player he was without the help of his parents, who not only support his game, but his academics, as well.