By Cole Parkinson
For Taber Times
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The town of Taber has seen the sport of lacrosse explode onto the scene over the past few years. With the introduction of minor lacrosse in town, this has opened the doors for local athletes to shine in a new environment.
And over the past two years, Taber has seen several top-notch players come through the system. This season was another success and in early August, several Taberites went south to play in the USBox Lacrosse Nationals 2023 in San Jose, California as part of the SALA (Southern Alberta Lacrosse Association) Sting Nation. Thrasher players Kayden Kress, Grant Petronech, Blake Rabusic, and Carter Kerkhoff all departed for the tournament from Aug. 4-6. The team was coached by head coaches Dave Welton and Evan Douglas and assistant coaches Sean Yeaman and Catherine Kerkhoff and Jason Schukat served as the team’s trainer. Sting Nation consisted of players from the Taber Thrashers, Brooks Drillers, Medicine Hat SunDevils, and Lethbridge Cudas Lacrosse Associations.
The team competed in the U17 A pool with six other teams — Fusion West (British Columbia), PACBOX, Denver Elite, North Strong Lacrosse (Edmonton), Cali*Lax Outlaws, and the Jr Seals (San Diego). And Sting Nation was more than up to the task as the team opened up the tournament with a huge 10-1 win over Denver Elite. After a huge win to start the tournament, the team continued pool play with a matchup against North Strong Lacrosse. Once again, the team was able to build a sizeable lead and were able to take the game 7-1.
In the penultimate pool play game against the Cali*Lax Outlaws, Sting Nation continued to pour on the offence as the team was able to cruise to a 10-3 win. The following day saw the last round-robin game as the team lined up against the Jr Seals. It was a different team but the same result for the local team as Sting Nation took the game 12-5. With an undefeated record after the round-robin, the team had the rest of the day off and regrouped for Sunday’s playoffs.
The semi-final saw Sting Nation take on PACBOX for a birth into the gold medal game. The offence continued to dominate for Sting Nation as the team was able to take home an 11-5 victory and punch their ticket to the gold medal game. The final game of the tournament proved to be the toughest test for Sting Nation as they lined up against Fusion West who was the only other team to go undefeated in the round-robin portion. Despite a good battle, Sting Nation fell short in the gold medal game 11-5.
Despite the loss, the team was more than happy with their year. Sting Nation had a strong year winning one gold medal and two silver medals in three of the biggest tournaments in Western Canada and the U.S. They finished those tournaments with a combined 11-2 record.