GUELPH/ERAMOSA – At three years old, Garin Dunton found his dad’s old lacrosse stick laying around, picked it up, and started to play.
This moment sparked his love and passion for Canada’s national summer sport, lacrosse.
Within a few years, Garin began playing competitively on rep-level teams, his mom Alana Dunton said.
Garin’s skill improved year by year, and this summer, at 12 years old, he represented his province by playing for Team Ontario in the U13 National Lacrosse Championship.
Team Ontario went on to win the national championship, and Dunton brought a first place medal home to his family’s Holstein farm in Guelph/Eramosa.
Love of the sport
It’s the speed of lacrosse that Dunton loves most.
During an interview with the Advertiser at his family farmhouse kitchen table, Dunton noted lacrosse is “the fastest sport on two feet.”
The ball moves so quickly that you need to constantly think about what will happen next, and make sure nothing gets past you when you’re playing defence, he said.
Dunton plays all positions – that’s how it goes in youth lacrosse, making the kids better all-around players, his mom noted.
But Dunton’s favourite is offence, as he loves scoring goals.
Dunton was at the same kitchen table, getting ready for a Centre Wellington Riverhawks practice, when he found out he’d been chosen to represent Team Ontario in the U13 National Lacrosse Championship.
After three rounds of tryouts with coaches, scouts and evaluators, Dunton got a call from a Team Ontario coach offering him a spot on the provincial team.
Dunton felt both excited and honoured when he heard the news.
The championship tournament took place in Regina, Saskatchewan, and when it came time to board the plane with his parents and sister, Dunton said it was a very cool experience, particularly as it was his second time ever flying in a plane.
His eight-year-old sister Adilyn added it was a first for her.
Alana said Garin’s week in Saskatchewan was centred around team building.
The kids on Team Ontario did everything together – eating meals, riding on the bus, and watching films – forming strong bonds during their short time together.
Team Ontario played about six games in the championship, starting with a round robin and then moving on to the semi-finals and final.
Winning the championship
They were up against the host province, Team Saskatchewan, in the semi-finals, and “won by quite a bit,” Dunton said.
When it came to playing British Columbia in the final, though, Dunton felt very nervous, especially as Ontario lost 6-4 to B.C. in the round robin.
But once he was out on the floor and Team Ontario scored a few goals, Dunton felt “really good.”
And near the end, “once the clock started ticking down, it was like ‘Whoa, we are going to win it,’” Dunton said.
When the game was over, Dunton and the rest of Team Ontario went back to the University of Regina, where they were staying, to celebrate.
They enjoyed relaxing and having fun in the pool together, but the celebrations couldn’t go on too long as they had to catch the flight home at 5am the following morning.
Dunton said he learned a few new plays during his time in Regina that he will be able to bring back to the Centre Wellington Riverhawks, as well as an increased confidence in his ability.
Dunton is grateful to his parents and all of his coaches who have helped him achieve his goals so far, especially Centre Wellington Riverhawks coach Kasey Beirnes, who used to play in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) for the Toronto Rock.
“He has helped me a lot,” Dunton said.
In addition to playing for Team Ontario and the Centre Wellington Riverhawks, during winter Dunton plays in the Rock Stars Elite Lacrosse Program.
Almost all of the coaches in the Rock Stars program have played in the NLL.
Dunton’s dream for the future is to make it to the NLL himself.