Sports

Jr. Thunder ready to go for season

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Having a young team with a new coaching staff is not an excuse for losing.

“It is going to be a challenge, graduating as many kids as we did,” said Shaun Springett, who is coaching the Langley Junior Thunder lacrosse team.

“The good thing about us is that we hate to lose more than we like to win.”

He was referring to the philosophy of both his coaching staff and the management team of the Thunder.

This off-season, the Buchan family (Ken and Rob) — who own the senior A Langley Thunder — assumed control of both the junior A and intermediate Thunder squads, bringing all three levels of lacrosse under the direction of one group.

The intermediate Thunder — which is for players ages 16 and 17 — open their B.C. Intermediate A Lacrosse League season on April 24  while the junior team — ages 18 to 21 — gets the B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League underway on Sunday (April 27) at the Langley Events Centre when they host the Victoria Jr. Shamrocks at 5 p.m.

The intermediate team plays earlier that day at 2 p.m. against New Westminster.

“I don’t know if we will be battling for the top spot but we just told the boys we will be the best team we can be and see where that will take us,” Springett said.

That being said, playoffs remain a reasonable goal with six of the eight teams in the B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League qualifying for the post-season.

“Once you get in the playoffs — and if by then our systems are in place and the kids have learned it and understand it — you never know who you can surprise,” he said.

Springett has won both the BCJALL coach of the year and the Western Lacrosse Association senior coach of the year awards. And he brings a brand-new offensive and defensive system to Langley.

“It might take a little while to catch on to, but I used these systems my first year in Delta and with 14 rookies we made it to the finals against Coquitlam,” Springett said.

“If the players buy into it — and so far they have — we could fill in some of those gaps we are missing with an overall better team game.”

“The basics of our defence is a five-man unit instead of isolated man-on-man all the time. It can be pretty successful if everyone buys in.”

The offence is a pretty intricate motion offence.

“Once they get it, they will see that it is phenomenal,” Springett said, adding that the team has shown flashes in the preseason, but he does not expect it to happen overnight.

Joining Springett behind the bench will be A.J. Smith (defensive coach) and Alex Turner (offensive coach).

The team lost 16 players to graduation and also traded away a couple of their top intermediate players who would have been first-year juniors.

But this year’s squad only has six third-year players, meaning the team is young and will be together for a few more seasons.

“(Success) might not take place this year, but it will pay dividends further down the road,” Springett said.

“We are going to have our challenges without a doubt, but I think the biggest thing we have on our team is the commitment to learning and good organization in place.

“We are looking towards the future with the present in mind.”

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