Okanagan Wild on Pause
It is with great discomfort that I am announcing today that the Okanagan Wild Lacrosse Team will not be moving forward with a program for the 2018 season. As you may be aware, the BCLA’s Senior Directorate recently approved a 5-year program for Junior Lacrosse in British Columbia. One of the results of the changes is the elimination of the Intermediate Lacrosse League (BCILL) that the Wild was a part of last year. The former Intermediate A program has become Junior B Tier 1. The former Junior B program has become Junior B Tier 2 and the Intermediate B program has become Junior B Tier 3. All of these new programs are for players ranging from 17 to 21 years of age. This new league structure was deemed necessary by the BCLA membership in order to better compete nationally. The B.C format will now be identical to the format played in Ontario — which is considered B.C.’s long-time rival in all levels of lacrosse.
Although the Okanagan Wild received a Junior B Tier 1 franchise and had overwhelming support from the new league(s) to participate this season, there was once again great resistance and lack of support at the local level. The Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League (TOJLL) is not ready to welcome this 5-year program and Junior B Tier 1 Lacrosse to the Interior. Without the support of the former Junior B League, the Okanagan Wild would once again find itself having to compete directly with the TOJLL to recruit local talent to commit to play at this higher level of lacrosse.
The new 5-year program in B.C has been praised and well received from all other parts of the province where Junior B and Intermediate Lacrosse teams have previously coexisted and worked together to develop their players in preparation for Junior A lacrosse. However, the Okanagan is the only area where the Intermediate A team will not become a Jr B Tier 1 team and the new league will once again be back to 10 teams.
The Okanagan Wild organization would like to personally thank our management, coaches, parents, players and the sponsors that were directly involved in creating this great organization. We are saddened to see it end after just one season. The Okanagan Wild earned a renewed sense of competency, professionalism and respect for lacrosse in the Interior from both the Senior Directorate and the entire B.C lacrosse community. This respect had been declining for many years. However, the Okanagan Wild and the Senior Directorate remains hopeful that this will be a short-lived absence of high-level lacrosse in the Thompson/Okanagan. There is optimism that at some point in the near future the Okanagan Wild will be playing in the Junior B Tier 1 league. In support of this, the leagues have passed a motion unanimously to continue to assess the feasibility of a potential expansion of the Wild back to the Interior.