Two years ago, Reese Stewart tried girls’ indoor lacrosse and fell in love. Already a veteran of the Windsor Wildcats girls’ hockey association, she decided to try something out of the ordinary. This spring, after two years of hard work under coaches Lloyd Land and Barry Garant with the Windsor Warlocks, Reese was chosen to participate in the Canadian Lacrosse Association’s national championship for Team Ontario.
The Team Ontario experience has been one of learning for Reese. She attended last year’s camp as well, but was not as fortunate.
“My legs were really sore,” Stewart said. “I couldn’t manage to get the knots out of my legs. It was difficult to run and to move.”
This year’s tryout was a different story.
“We didn’t have to run as much as we did the year previous,” she explained. “All of the drills were easy to understand and to follow, some of them were even the same … that the Warlocks run. Overall, it was fun and the people at the tryout were friendly.”
Coach Land sees good things for Stewart.
“She will see the best of the best at Nationals and it will only make her better,” Land said. “She belongs and she will get confirmation of this when she plays with these great players.”
The 16 year-old, who attends Vincent Massey Secondary School, was able to leave enough of a mark with the coaching staff to become the second player from the Warlocks’ girls program to make the provincial team since its inception in 2014.
Stewart is not done yet, as she has high hopes for her post-secondary career.
“I would like to go to either the University of Guelph or McMaster University for environmental science,” she conferred. “I would [also] like to play on their field lacrosse team.”
Although not officially a varsity sport, the OUA Women’s Lacrosse League is highly competitive and chock full of talent.
Reese’s interest in field lacrosse is only natural for a women’s box lacrosse player. The path of advancement for indoor laxers tends to push girls in this direction.
There are not a lot of opportunities for ladies in junior lacrosse. In fact, only two women have ever played Junior B, both goalies and both for the Wallaceburg Red Devils. As there is a bit of an adjustment for most box lax players converting to field, Reese has elected to get herself prepared early.
“I’m ending my travel hockey career to start playing field lacrosse somewhere in the States during my usual hockey season,” Stewart explained. “It is another opportunity for me to meet new people and gain new experiences; create memories.”
She still finds time for her studies, despite all this lacrosse, and is focused on becoming a proficient student-athlete.
“I usually do my homework right when I get home from school after I eat,” said Reese. “Whenever I have to play or practice sports then I do so. I’m good at managing my time so my education and sports don’t usually have conflicts.”
The Warlocks experience has been a positive one for Reese, pushing her to new challenges while making friends along the way.
“I got to meet a lot of people that have changed my life for the better. Everyone who I have encountered as a Warlocks’ member has been extremely hilarious and have overall brought a lot of joy in my life,” she enthused.
Reese has found herself caught up in some of the things that makes lacrosse enjoyable for many young people.
“As a lacrosse player, one of my favourite experiences would be after [my] team wins a game,” she said. “Everyone in the dressing room just has a positive vibe. Everyone is happy and is having a great time. During the game, I like it when the team goes through a play that we practice and it actually goes the way that we practice it.”
Reese added, “Mostly it makes the coach happy, so we don’t have to run as much.”
She has her priorities straight.
“She is a pleasure to coach,” stated Lloyd Land, who has been involved in her development since she started the sport. “How she has developed in two short years is incredible. She has great natural ability, but her love for the game makes her what she is. I know she is always practicing and trying to improve. She brings an attitude, swagger, and a huge personality to our team that is infectious.”
Although much of Reese’s success can be attributed to her positive attitude and work ethic, the opportunity would not have arose without the efforts of Land, manager Jackie Jamieson, and coaches Garant and Colin Land, and the time they have pumped into the girls’ program.
Last year, Jaime Land, Lloyd’s daughter, was the first Warlock to dawn the red, black, and white of the provincial team.
“We always feel we need to prove ourselves against the lacrosse elite,” said coach Land. “Every time one of our players cracks the Team O line-up, they excel. With Jaime playing last year and Reese following her, it really solidifies our girls organization. [It] gives us a lot of credibility. In a few short years we have went from 18 girls to having Midget and Intermediate girls teams with two girls making Team Ontario. This organization is solid and here to stay.”
For inspiration, Reese looks to environmental activist Ric O’Barry.
“He stands up for what he believes in and he takes action about it,” described Reese. “He has opened up a new way of how I see and react to different things in life.”
She also draws from former NCAA athlete Inky Johnson, who overcame a horrific sports injury to become a motivational speaker.
“Even though he was hit with many difficulties in his life, he managed to push through all of them and still become successful,” Stewart said.
The midget Warlocks are inching towards regionals at the moment. Undefeated in the regular season, the Warlocks will be looking for their second consecutive Zone 7 title when they travel to Sarnia on July 23 for the big showdown.
The winner will move on to the Ontario Lacrosse Festival in Whitby, which runs from July 31 to August 9.
Reese’s national championship adventure with Team Ontario begins July 18 in Calgary.