‘We love to see the game is growing in Stettler’

John Lintz was in no rush to leave Stettler. Even after a long day of mentoring youth in Erskine and Stettler

Jeremy Thompson of the Edmonton Rush of the National Lacrosse League chats with Kim Smyth

Jeremy Thompson of the Edmonton Rush of the National Lacrosse League chats with Kim Smyth

John Lintz was in no rush to leave Stettler.

Even after a long day of mentoring youth in Erskine and Stettler, the Edmonton Rush defenceman wanted to talk about lacrosse even more.

“We’ve been to a lot of school programs and that sort of thing, and we see a lot of different drills and techniques,” said Lintz, who along with teammate Jeremy Thompson worked with Erskine students and Stettler minor lacrosse players during an early May visit.

“But I think the main thing is that there’s a lot of enthusiasm and we love to see that the game is growing, especially out here in areas like Stettler. And that’s really exciting. That can only be good for lacrosse.”

National Lacrosse League teams like the Rush are trying to promote the game by not only sending players to speak in communities, but also offering clinics to teach youth lacrosse skills.

“When I got into it, it was kind of to supplement hockey,” said Lintz, 26. “I was a hockey player, too, and (lacrosse) was kind of a summertime thing that I did.

“At that time, in Edmonton, there wasn’t very much growth with lacrosse. It was just coming along. I remember doing hockey drills during lacrosse practice, and that sort of thing.

“Now that we see the development and you see the game advance to where we have lacrosse programs set up and where we have guys like Jeremy and other Rush players come back and help out, and lend those skills and those ideas, I think it can only be positive.”

Lacrosse is a new sport for the Stettler region, which formed a minor lacrosse association just last year. But it’s apparent the community is learning the game fast.

“Honestly, when we came here, the people that we met were pretty well-prepared and well-researched,” said Lintz, one of the few hometown players with Edmonton.

“A lot of them had seen Rush games and a lot of the coaches were fairly knowledgeable — they had gone to clinics and things like that, which is awesome to see.

“I think it’s great that lacrosse can come to a small community like this, because they can really embrace this kind of game, once they see it for its skill and that it’s an individual game. It’s good for the game.”

And the game has been good for Lintz.

“What I tend to tell kids is that to me, lacrosse represents opportunity,” he said.

“Anything in life where you have a talent, and you work at it, then you get positive results out of it.

“For me, that’s been lacrosse. I’ve noticed that I had a talent at it, and I worked at it, and I was able to see a lot of great things and meet a lot of great people and develop those relationships through lacrosse. It’s been amazing.”

Lintz told young players in Erskine and Stettler that they don’t necessarily need a lacrosse background to become proficient in the sport. He used himself as an example.

“I’m kind of unique in that way,” he said. “A lot of lacrosse players come from lacrosse backgrounds, but I kind of got into it through my best friends. Their names are the Cornfields, and their whole family was into the game. Their dad was the coach and the brothers played. My dad eventually did get into it, but that’s not really his background. He’s more of a basketball player and a musician.

“My development started (when I was) six or seven. I was a hockey player that started playing lacrosse. I’m 26 now, so I’ve been in the game a long time.”

Rush downplay Saskatoon reports

On the same day that the Rush duo visited Stettler, team management fielded questions about reports that the team might leave Edmonton and move to Saskatoon.

“I’ve talked to our executives just recently and they said that it’s just kind of rumours,” Lintz said. “There had been some discussion, but the team is staying in Edmonton. And for the foreseeable future, that should be the case, which is good news, because I think having the Rush in Edmonton is great for the lacrosse community there.”