(WINDSOR, ON) – Windsor’s Connor McManus has achieved a milestone for the Windsor Warlocks Lacrosse Association in an unforeseen way. Connor is the Warlocks first ever selection to Team Ontario for field lacrosse. The added shocker for the proficient 15 year-old offensive box lacrosse player is that he made Team Ontario as a goalie.
Hopefully most Windsorites have seen one of those giant box lacrosse goalies standing in front of what appears to be a miniature hockey net. But, fewer people in Canada are familiar with the appearance of a field tender. Field goalies wear practically no gear and attempt to catch the ball with their stick as opposed to blocking it with their body.
“The difference between a box and field [goalie’s equipment is that] I wear a chest guard like a baseball catcher, player gloves with an extra piece in the thumb, cup, and helmet,” said McManus. “Nothing on my arms or legs and the net is six-by-six feet.”
This is opposed to a box goalie who wears thick armour from head to toe, standing in front of a four-by-four foot net. Box goalies are even allowed to play with a larger lacrosse stick.
McManus is a grade 9 student at St Thomas of Villanova Catholic High School and enjoys fishing in his spare time. He started playing box lacrosse at the age of eight because, he says, he was bored with baseball. After half a lifetime playing the indoor game, Connor tried something new.
“I don’t play hockey and wanted something to do in the fall and winter,” said Connor. “When our box season was done, I got invited to play field lacrosse in the States by one of the fathers of my teammates. I have been playing both ever since. I had only played field net a few times before this year. My Juiced Cherries team needed a goalie so I volunteered.”
McManus tried playing net, liked it, and excelled at it. He started playing with the Juiced Cherries lacrosse club from Detroit and quickly made his mark between the pipes.
After establishing himself as a tender, this year being his first full season in net, Connor took a run at Team Ontario; a provincial team which plays every year in the Canadian Lacrosse Championships hosted by the Canadian Lacrosse Association.
“I had no plans to tryout for Team O,” he explained. “Coach John Rosa from Windsor and my Juiced Cherries coach Jake Kenney said I would have a good chance of making it. I can’t wait to go represent not only my province [but also] my Warlocks and Juiced Cherries families.”
A retired National Lacrosse League player, Rosa is complimentary of Connor’s ability to be a crossover athlete.
“Connor is a great kid,” explained Warlocks’ midget coach. “[He is] one of our few kids that lacrosse is his main sport. Connor has always been a gifted offensive player with strong stick skills. He has been able to convert his stick skills from box to a quick stick-moving goalie in field lacrosse. With the two games being quite different, Connor has managed to be dominant in both.”
Chris Garland, one of McManus’ Juiced Cherries coaches, is also impressed with Connor’s performance.
“Connor has been a tremendous asset to the team and we were overjoyed when he was named a member of Team Ontario,” stated Garland. “In addition to playing goalie for the Juiced Cherries, he’s also a skilled attack-man.”
McManus and Rosa’s son, Jake, have both been selected to Team Ontario this year, but in different age brackets.
“Both boys have exhibited toughness, skilled finishing, and a sense of the game we don’t normally see from field players,” said Garland. “His box game has translated well to the field and we hope to see more boys from Ontario tryout for our program.”
Connor enjoys the atmosphere of comradery in both the Windsor and Detroit lacrosse communities.
“I have a lacrosse family; we all know and take care of each other,” reflected McManus. “I love going to the rink. We are small group in Windsor so everyone knows what [everyone] is doing and are always encouraging each other. I love everything about lacrosse; my Warlocks and Juiced Cherries family, all my coaches, all the friends I have made, all the places we go.”
Ultimately, Connor’s goal is to make his lacrosse work for him.
“I would like to play lacrosse in college, but I know I have a lot of hard work ahead of me,” he said. “I would like to get a scholarship and use lacrosse to get my education.”
Connor wants young players to take the time to enjoy the sport of lacrosse, stay dedicated, and don’t be afraid to try the field game.
“I would tell young people to have fun and don’t give up,” he said. “If you have the chance, try field lacrosse. I love how lacrosse challenges me to be my best.”
The Canadian U15 minor field lacrosse championship tournament will take place September 1-3 in Saskatoon.