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The month of June may have been the busiest 30-day stretch the US Box Lacrosse Association has ever experienced. In addition to legitimate box lacrosse being played throughout the country by USBOXLA clubs – membership this year topped seven thousand and is projected to be over ten thousand a year from now – USBOXLA also brought the best players in the country to British Columbia to take part in a series of events, more commonly referred to as the #bctour.

USBOXLA competed at the prestigious Trevor Wingrove Memorial, ran an intense three-day camp for top Denver Elite and Cali*Lax ALL-STARS teams and also took part in arguably the most grueling U18 tour in the association’s history. All of that, which included well over 100 players from the US hopping the border, happened in a tremendously tight four-week window.

Below, check out some of the best picture’s snapped by USBOXLA photographer Sherri Thomson, who was there for every session both on the floor and behind the scenes. Plus, make sure to follow us on Instagram to continue seeing the best images from USBOXLA’s biggest summer of box lacrosse yet, including this year’s #bctour and USBOXLA Nationals in San Jose.

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TREVOR WINGROVE MEMORIAL

Who: Team USBOXLA pee wees, bantams and midgets

What: Trevor Wingrove Memorial Tournament

Where: Coquitlam, British Columbia

When: Saturday June 3 – Sunday June 4

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Not only was the Team USBOXLA pee wee group the first American team to compete at the Wingrove, they were the first US-based team to snag a win too, topping Langley 7-6 with Denver Elite’s Brady Grooters netting a hat-trick in the victory.

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When NLL Media Person of the Year Teddy Jenner first caught a glimpse of Team USBOXLA in Coquitlam, he said, “These kids have some serious swag,” referencing their Rude Brand built box lacrosse uniforms. Few at the Wingrove sported as much style as New Jersey’s Braden Ensinger, who had that forever flow, Horace Grant vibing eye wear, Ben Prepchuk inspired knee-highs, plus the kid was slick on the floor too.

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“Having played box lacrosse for three years, I know my improved skills will transfer over to any lacrosse game,” said Denver Elite’s Charlie Link, who like most Americans that play box, also plays field lacrosse. “Best of all, I like going to Canada with my buddies because Canadians have the best tournaments,” added a one-less-tooth Link, losing one of his wiggly chompers in Coquitlam.

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USBOXLA coaches have well over 100 years of NLL playing experience under the belts, while most other organizations operating in the country can barely add up to a dozen seasons in the bigs. USBOXLA Wingrove teams were coached by current and former pro players Dan Coates, Shaydon Santos (both pictured above), John Gallant, Jeff Zywicki and Jamie Shewchuck, plus Elliot Bender and Allie George, both outstanding youth coaches in their own right.

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Two of the top bantam goalies in the country are Ben Cecil (black helmet) and Jack Lantier (white helmet). “The position speaks to me,” said Lantier. “People think playing goalie is easy, but it’s not. People think you just stand there and let the ball hit you, but there is footwork involved.”

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Cali*Lax’s Lawton Corrigan was featured in the Los Altos Hills Town Crier earlier this summer, explaining to the paper some of the differences between field and box lacrosse. “Everyone is an offensive player and a defensive player,” he told them. “You need to do a little bit of both.”

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As any kid that’s played in a box tournament knows, pre-game practice is usually relegated to the parking lot or paved roads behind the barn.

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Burgeoning-backstop Axell Beskar and skilled-scorer Keelan Seneca landed on USBOXLA’s Best in Box list after the Resolute Lacrosse-hosted Midwest Classic earlier this year. The two impressed again in Coquitlam, both players with undoubtedly strong futures in the sport.

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On Jenner’s most recent episode of his popular #OTCBPodcast, he said, “If you’re an NLL guy and you want to get involved in something pretty freakin’ awesome, get involved with a USBOXLA team.” Above, former Colorado Mammoth captain John Gallant has been a long-serving coach with Denver Elite, while former San Jose Stealth sniper Jeff Zywicki jumped onto a USBOXLA bench for the first time at the Wingrove.

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While USBOXLA members still have some catching up to do with Canada when it comes to box lacrosse-specific skills, Americans are always impressively athletic in either form of the sport – possessing some real pop on the offensive press in box.

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A standout middie in Denver Elite’s field program and Highlands Ranch Rookie of the Year this year, TK Hammond is also strong indoors and one of the top midget-aged box lacrosse players in the country today.

BRITISH COLUMBIA TRAINING CAMP

Who: Denver Elite and Cali*Lax ALL-STARS bantams and midgets

What: Pre-Canada Day Tournament training camp

Where: Coquitlam, Burnaby and Langley, British Columbia

When: Monday June 27 – Wednesday June 29

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The Cali*Lax ALL-STARS are a charter member of USBOXLA, founded by Santos shortly after his NLL playing career came to an end in San Jose. The state currently makes up one of the largest member pools in the country alongside…

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… Denver Elite, who also joined USBOXLA when it was first established. The program was the brainchild of  Bill Tierney, Trevor Tierney and Matt Brown in 2009, when the three coaches took over the University of Denver men’s lacrosse program. It was Santos and Brown who co-founded USBOXLA in 2010.

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While the two clubs have worked together to grow the sport not only within their own state but throughout the country as well, they are also heated rivals, battling in scrimmages against one another during this camp.

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In addition to serving as associate head coach at the University of Denver and assisting Canada at this summer’s U19 World Championships, Brown still spends countless hours coaching his Denver Elite program and various USBOXLA Academy sessions. “The way he runs a practice is really something else,” said former USBOXLA player and now coach David Mather shortly after a Brown-coached clinic at this year’s Nationals. “Just watch him run a session once and you’ll know why his Denver programs are as good as they are today.”

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Team USBOXLA and member clubs play on some of the most historic box lacrosse floors in the world when they travel to Canada every summer. This year Cali*Lax and Denver scrimmaged on Burnaby’s sea-foam floor (above), the home of the Vancouver Stealth in Langley, and their home away from home this June, Coquitlam’s Poirier Sport & Leisure Complex.

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While stationed in Ontario and playing for the NLL’s Toronto Rock during a good chunk of the year, every summer field and box gold-medal winner Colin Dolye spends time coaching Cali*Lax teams at tournaments, exhibitions and this B.C. camp. “Colin is one of the top youth box lacrosse instructors in all of Canada, so being able to have him to work with our players so closely is really unbelievable,” said Santos. “We want our players to have the best.”

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Decked out sharper than many pro teams, Cali*Lax, Denver Elite and most USBOXLA members are styled by Rude Brand, the association’s official merchandise and style supplier.

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While he may not own the resume of say Brown or Doyle, Elliot Bender has blossomed into a highly regarded coach and mentor for both the Cali*Lax ALL-STARS and Team USBOXLA. After learning the game playing for Cali*Lax, Bender has played Junior ‘A’ and ‘B’ lacrosse in Ontario and is a former NLL prospect. Recent Denver Elite grads like Carter Jensen, Chad Kreuzer, Skylar “Moose” Whinery and Mikey Bealer are following in Bender’s footsteps, currently coaching youth sides within the program. “These are kids that grew up playing for Denver Elite and now they’re able to teach the game too,” said Shewchuk. “Moose is really great with the goaltenders.”

U18 TOUR

Who: Team USBOXLA U18

What: Exhibition games against British Columbia Intermediate ‘A’ teams

Where: Coquitlam, Langley, Richmond, New Westminster and Victoria, British Columbia

When: Sunday June 26 – Saturday July 2

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This year’s U18 group showcased players from nine different states: California, Colorado, Kentucky, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington.

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During the tour, which consisted of five contests against top Intermediate ‘A’ teams in the BC loop, Team USBOXLA played on concrete, wood and the Langley Events Centre‘s turf, which in coming days will host the 2016 Minto Cup and in 2019 will host the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships.

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The BYU-bound Cade Lichfield shared goaltending duties during the week-long trip. In August, the 6’7″ Seattle Elite stopper won USBOXLA Nationals gold in San Jose.

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New Wesminster’s Queen’s Park Arena is easily one of the most iconic box lacrosse buildings in the entire country of Canada. With Team USBOXLA owning a healthy lead heading into the final period against the city’s Salmonbellies, New West would knot the game late. With the scoreboard seemingly at straight zeroes, the ‘Bellies would score the winner with just 0.7 left on the clock, sneaking away with a 10-9 win against the US squad.

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This was Skylar “Moose” Whinery’s second U18 tour, and for the second-straight summer, he was easily one of the top talents on the tour. In fact, “Moose” may very well be the most talented youth goalie in the country today, earlier this year committing to Colorado College. He has garnered attention from Junior ‘A’ clubs in both British Columbia and Ontario, currently helping develop a new crop of crease generals while coaching at Denver Elite. “He worked hard, figured out a position that isn’t always easy for US kids, and he’s done so well,” said Shewchuk. “I even have a hard time scoring on him… sometimes.”

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Heading up this year’s bench staff were Santos, Mather and these two, Greg Bice and Ben Prepchuk. “We talk about how great Canadian’s stick skills are in the college and pro game, but to go to Canada and actually see in person how their entire system works, what these kids do … it’s a completely different take on it all,” said Bice, who operates Resolute Lacrosse, a USBOXLA charter member based in Ohio. Prepchuk, a former NLLer that grew up playing box in Canada and runs USBOXLA sanctioned member the Arizona Outlaws, says, “These kids are becoming better overall players and having fun doing it. The U.S. really needs this. Get these kids on the floor and they’re hooked.”

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On one of Bice’s best box lacrosse students to ever come out of the Resolute program is Landon Trout, who turned a ton of heads during this year’s exhausting tour. Many of this year’s U18 roster have already committed to top NCAA programs, including Trout, who’ll be attending Bellarmine. “He’s just so smooth with his stick,”said Prepchuk, alluding to the skills that allow Trout to…

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… finish on opportunities like this. “He’s extremely slick and his stick-work is just unreal,” added Bice. “Plus he plays really gritty and tough. He isn’t afraid to break in the middle but is just as dangerous from outside. I’d love to see him be able to spend the next couple of summers playing box in Canada and hopefully stick with the game for his whole career. I think he could really be good.”

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After finishing up late in New West on Friday night, Team USBOXLA was on a ferry first thing Saturday morning, concluding their grueling schedule against the first-place Victoria Shamrocks. “By the time we got to Victoria on that last day, the stress of the schedule definitely showed on the floor, but that’s what we anticipated,” said Bice. “We went out to B.C. to play as many top teams within that week as we could. What we gain on and off the floor over seven days on this tour far outweighs our record. Development and growth is much more than what’s up on the scoreboard after three periods.”

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Play box. Get better. Have fun.