Team Saskatchewan will take centre stage at Sunday’s opening of the Canadian bantam lacrosse championship in Whitby, Ont.
“We’re involved in the opening-ceremonies game against New Brunswick,” said Brody Holizki, who joins Josh Hopkins as the two Prince Albertans with the Saskatchewan Storm.
“In that game, we’re hoping to show what Saskatchewan is capable of doing. We’re probably going to have about 4,000 people in (the Iroquois Park Sports Centre), watching us.
“I think it’s going to be a pretty cool experience.”
Holizki and Hopkins, both 14, attended tryouts early in the spring and made the Saskatchewan cut.
“I actually thought I had a pretty good chance this year,” Holizki said. “I had gone (to provincial tryouts) since I was first-year peewee. I was mostly always last cut.
“It was pretty exciting (to earn a berth this year). It was one thing I really wanted. I’ve been training hard.”
On the local scene, Holizki played with the Prince Albert Stealth this season in his final year of bantam.
He’s working overtime as part of the provincial team, which had a training camp in Saskatoon last week.
“It was pretty hard,” he said. “Our dryland (training) was a big butt-kick.
“We went for some pretty long jogs, did a lot of stairs, and we had a lot of situps. They tried to get us fit.”
The workouts at Kinsmen Arena in Saskatoon included floor time twice daily, along with fitness drills and “a nice, nutritious lunch” each day.
Now, the Storm will try to bite into national competition in a lacrosse hotbed.
“I think we’ll do not bad,” Holizki said. “Considering what I’ve heard about other teams, we could have our work cut out for us.”
As part of their preparation, the Storm travelled to Calgary on Canada Day weekend for a high-level tournament.
Most of the Saskatchewan players live in Saskatoon, including former Prince Albert resident Brendan Rooney.
Holizki and Hopkins have built friendships with their new teammates and developed chemistry on and off the floor.
“Josh brings kind of an active personality,” a smiling Holizki said of Hopkins. “He keeps the team going, kind of tells the jokes.
“On the floor, though, he’s got the skill (and) he’s got the shot.”
Hopkins is listed at five-foot-five and 115 pounds, while Holizki is five-foot-three and 110 pounds.
“I’m playing creaseman, which pretty much stations me right beside the crease on the offensive side,” Holizki said. “And I play crease on the power play, also.
“It’s pretty cool, getting right down there. I’ve got a good angle for a shot for a goal. You’re always there for the rebound.”
Holizki has been playing lacrosse since he was a seven-year-old tyke. His father, Lawrence, has been a longtime coach.
Holizki plays a variety of community and school sports. He tended goal with his St. Louis Blues bantam hockey team.
Going into Grade 9 at St. Mary High School, he’s already had a memorable summer vacation, albeit a working holiday.
“I think I’ve had maybe one day off,” said Holizki, who added that the Ontario trip would be a vacation in itself.
Hopkins was unavailable for an interview this week, because of his grandfather’s death, but he still plans to head to the nationals today with the rest of Team Saskatchewan.
The Storm coach is Bob Sullivan, whose son Brendan is among the 20 players.
The tournament runs through next Saturday.