A unique lacrosse tournament takes over one of the rinks at the Port Coquitlam Community Centre on June 17.
At stake will not be a shiny trophy or silky banner.
Instead, every player is being rewarded with a Slurpee.
Big Al’s Big Gulp Cup is a U13 tournament that’s more about sportsmanship, camaraderie and love of lacrosse than it is about competition.
Organizer Travis Gillespie, a Coquitlam firefighter, said the idea for the tournament came from his dad, Al, who coached minor lacrosse for more than 30 years and always talked about bringing kids from different associations together, mixing them up and letting them play with nothing more at stake than having fun and maybe turning opponents into friends.
There’s no coaches, no face-offs, no penalties and the short, 14-minute games are played jamboree-style with players sticking around to cheer each other until it’s their turn on the floor again.
“It’s about the kids just playing,” Gillespie said. “They just want to go out there and have fun.”
Gillespie said the idea stuck with him through all the years he played and coached lacrosse himself but with his dad getting on in years, it was finally time to bring it to fruition.
He tried the tournament last year with his own son’s U11 team along with players from across Metro Vancouver and it was a hit.
Each participant was given a rank according to their ability and position then placed to create teams as evenly as possible. Parents were enlisted to open and close the bench doors and dole out water bottles to give them a different perspective on the game.
Gillespie said the kids formed connections that endured beyond the lacrosse rink. And at the end, everyone got a chilled treat.
This year, 60 U13 players from minor associations in PoCo, Coquitlam, Port Moody, Maple Ridge, Burnaby and Vancouver are expected to participate — enough to form four teams that will play from 12 to five p.m.
Gillespie said one of the beauties of the shinny-lacrosse nature of the tournament is associations don’t have to enter whole teams, they can just send a handful of players. He said he hopes other leagues take notice and the format can be adapted to pretty much any team sport.
After all, Gillespie added, playing minor sports should foster fun, friendships and an appreciation for the game.