(WINDSOR, ON) – Griffin Salaris, a standout bantam goalie in the Windsor Warlocks minor lacrosse program, will be honoured by the Ontario Lacrosse Association as the top player in Zone 7 on October 19 in Wallaceburg.
“I started playing lacrosse four years ago,” said the 13 year-old netminder. “I started playing because I noticed how much my brother [Nathan] liked it and all the friends he was making. I became a goalie because I wanted to be on the travel team and they needed goalies.”
Salaris was not expecting the recognition from his association and his local OLA branch.
“I was very surprised when my parents told me,” said Griffin. “There are a lot of great players on my team and in Zone 7, so it is awesome and an honour to be picked.”
It is all about the competition for the young tender.
“My favourite thing about being a goalie is trying to stop the other team’s best players,” he said. “It doesn’t always happen, but it is a great challenge for me and every goalie.”
This past summer, Griffin was the only goalie on the Windsor Warlocks bantam squad. The bantams competed at the highest level of competition in box lacrosse; the A division.
“Griff has put forth a tremendous effort and the results are awe-inspiring, without him we don’t play A-ball; plain and simple,” said his coach, Chris Derkatz. “Griff is truly a great kid [and] is by far our most improved player. He has worked tirelessly to become a better goalie.”
Griffin and his teammates battled their way to an overall 18-13-0 record while remaining undefeated in their own league. Of the 76 teams in the province, they finished in thirteenth place.
“He gives us a chance to win every game,” added Derkatz. “[He] has the best attitude and demeanor. He never complains, has a great sense of humour, [and] is an awesome teammate.”
The feeling is mutual between the team and their goalie.
“I love my teammates,” said Salaris. “We all got along so good and play hard for each other. They are not just my teammates, they are my friends and sort of like my family. I love going to the rink and being with them.”
Griffin played every minute of his team’s 31 games. During that run, he produced a sparkling 4.93 goals against average.
“[He] should serve as an inspiration to all the young kids playing lacrosse, that hard work and determination does pay off,” concluded Derkatz.
Griffin’s favourite moments in net are his team’s two battles with Nepean this year. Nepean, among the elite in the OLA, smoked the Warlocks in the first meeting.
“They killed us 11-3 early in the year,” said Griffin. “Three weeks later we beat them 3-2. It showed us that if we work hard and do our job we can play good games and even win against the best teams.”
Self-improvement is the main goal for the young goalie.
“In sports, I just want to keep playing the best I can and keep learning and getting better,” he said. “I am pretty young and not sure what I want to do with my life, but I know school is very important.”
Next year, Griffin will be moving up to midget, a team his brother played for the past two seasons. Griff’s recognition from Zone 7 could be seen as the coming of age for a young man entering high school and to an age bracket where players generally make it or break it as a litmus test for junior lacrosse.
But, as Griffin Salaris looks forward, he is reminded of how he reached this point.
“This award is something my teammates, coaches, and everyone that helped me can be a part of,” he said. “I’ve worked pretty hard, but without all the people helping me I wouldn’t be the goalie I am today.”