Guelph lacrosse standout to represent Canada on world stage
No matter what sport, one of the best feelings an athlete can have is when he or she slips a national team jersey on for international play.
Guelph’s Mackenzie Iacocca is looking forward to having that feeling next month when he suits up for Canada in the world under-19 men’s field lacrosse championship tournament at Coquitlam, B.C.
“I’m super excited to wear that Canadian leaf and represent my country,” the 17-year-old said. “It’s always something that you just dream of because representing your country, the country we all love, is pretty neat.”
Iacocca is to be a short-stick defensive midfielder with the Canadian team that is to compete in the Blue Division in the world tournament set for July 7-16. He’ll play defence against midfielders from Australia, England, Iroquois Nationals and United States, the other teams in the top division.
“It was something that didn’t even seem like I had a chance at first because I didn’t get invited to the first tryout and then all of a sudden three weeks later I’m playing for Team Canada,” he said. “It was honestly incredible.”Iacocca gained his berth on the national team through his performance at the final selection camp held in Florida one weekend in March.
“It was very competitive because there are a lot of very good lacrosse players in Canada,” he said. “The camp was fun because it was competitive and everyone wanted the same goal, but it was very hard. You had to do that extra step to get past the guy on a loose ball and if you’re running down the field, you have to try and beat him and he’s a super athlete from somewhere else.”
Iacocca started playing field lacrosse when he was 11 and progressed through the Guelph Minor Lacrosse Association’s field system. He played for the Edge travelling team when he was in Grade 9 and played for the Ontario provincial team the following year.
“A lot of my skill comes from athleticism,” he said. “I play hockey and playing hockey and lacrosse is big because you work all year round on certain skills, like agility.”
It also helps that he spends a lot of time doing the little things in the sport.
“Having a stick in your hands is big,” Iacocca said. “Playing outside, shooting the ball as much as you can, throwing the ball off the wall repeatedly, just the little things, if you do them a lot you can become a good lacrosse player.”
A Grade 12 student at Bishop Macdonell Catholic High School, Iacocca plays with the Kitchener-Waterloo Braves in the Ontario junior A lacrosse league. He started the season in junior B with the Guelph Regals to get some extra game time after his 2015 season was cut short by knee surgery.
“It was just minor surgery and it’s fine now,” he said.
Iacocca has four goals and three assists in seven games with the Braves after collecting 15 goals and five assists in five games with the Regals.
This fall Iacocca is to head to Queens, N.Y., to attend St. John’s University and play NCAA Division 1 field lacrosse there.