A pair of talented young Huntsville athletes are continuing the town’s long legacy of lacrosse excellence.
Jason Knox and Brett Handsor were both recently drafted by junior A teams in Canada’s original national pastime and are excited about the opportunities this brings.
“I am not there yet,” says Knox. “Once you are drafted you attend the teams tryouts, if you have an interest in playing for them. Then I have to be good enough to make their squad. They may request that I play for one of their affiliate teams, or mature for a year until an open spot for me is available on their team.”
The Chiefs hold Knox’s Junior A playing rights and, as it stands now, he plans to be on the floor attempting to make the team in the spring. But, as Knox notes, a lot could happen between now and then.
“They could even trade me,” he says. “So really if it doesn’t work out for me this year I could be home playing for the Junior C Hawks where I may get more floor time than if I played Junior A. It would sure be an accomplishment to play Junior A as a first year junior.”
Knox would not mind at all being back playing the sport he loves in Huntsville as he has many friends here and very fond memories of Hawks lacrosse.
“One of my favourite memories was playing up with the midgets, I was still a Bantam, and I got to play with my older brother, Duke, and my cousin, Jackson Bionda,” says Knox. “It was against Orillia and we won 9-5 I think. Then there was the time we won the provincials in Tyke. That was great. And all the years of running to the river to swim after practices with the guys.”
Knox says his passion for lacrosse started at a very young age. He says it keeps his mind focused and keen. Knox recalls his parents encouraging participation in lacrosse because he has always been an energetic fellow.
“But now I am seeing the education opportunities with it,” says Knox, who is busy studying at St. Andrews College in Aurora. “It is a really fun game.”
Coming from a big-time lacrosse family, Knox’s grandfather is the great Jack Bionda, he has the sport in his blood. Many of Knox’s relatives on both sides have been players, coaches and administrators of lacrosse in Huntsville and beyond.
“My mom (Jocelyn Knox) never stops in admin stuff for lacrosse and she started the field lacrosse program in Huntsville in my second year of novice,” he says. “The first year of novice she took me to Orillia to play field to see if I would like it and I did. She understood the education opportunities and as a lacrosse junkie herself, she wanted Huntsville players to have that opportunity.”
Knox, who never met his grandfather, says he wishes he had a chance to get to know him because several people have mentioned they share similar qualities.
Knox eventually found himself playing lacrosse for Evolve Elite Lacrosse, Team Ontario and St. Andrews College. Next up could be for the Burlington Chiefs in Junior A and that would be a major accomplishment.
While Knox notes there were many coaches along the way who helped guide him through the years at the various locations he played lacrosse, the number-one reason he is doing well in the sport is closer to home.
“If I had to say what the major influence is on my game it would be my entire family so far,” he says.
Meanwhile, Handsor is going to school at the Culver Military Academy in Indiana. He says he has always wanted to play Junior A lacrosse and had dreams of being drafted. Well, his dream came true in a big way when the Orangeville Northmen selected him in the first round this year.
Handsor says it’s quite the “honour” being chosen by the Northmen and describes Orangeville as a “first-class organization.” The Northmen are the defending OLA Junior A champions and narrowly missed out on becoming national champions when they were defeated in the Minto Cup final by the Coquitlam Adanacs.
With Team Ontario this past season, Handsor won the midget National Lacrosse Championship and in a playoff game with the Huntsville Hawks Junior C team he scored three goals in 16 seconds against Cornwall.
Handsor also has committed to playing NCAA Division I field lacrosse for John Hopkins University. Also in field lacrosse, Handsor won the InterAc Championship Challenge tournament with his high school, Culver Academy Prep, and was named that tournament’s face-off specialist of the tournament.
Up next for Handsor is a shot at playing Junior A lacrosse with the Orangeville Northmen.
While the future of their lacrosse careers is uncertain, one thing we know for sure is Knox and Handsor will represent their community well wherever they may be.