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Former pro lacrosse star takes on mentorship role in Delta

Garrett Billings will be leading free Try Lacrosse sessions next month at the new Ladner Sport Court
Former National lacrosse League star Garrett Billings at the new Ladner Sport Court where he will be spending plenty of time working at the grassroots level of Delta Lacrosse.

A decorated National Lacrosse League player, that now calls Tsawwassen home, is thrilled with the opportunity to make a difference with Canada’s official national summer sport in his own backyard.

Garrett Billings has made a major impact at all levels of the game.

He came through Langley Minor Lacrosse and helped the Burnaby Lakers win the Minto Cup, playing alongside Ladner’s own Gary Bining. He also thrived in the field version of the sport, earning a full-ride scholarship to NCAA powerhouse University of Virginia where he won a national championship.

He then was selected sixth overall in the 2009 NLL Entry Draft by the Toronto Rock where he enjoyed five outstanding seasons that included earning First Team All-Pro status for three consecutive years from 2012 to 2014 when he compiled a whopping 315 points. Billings went on to play for New England, Vancouver, San Diego and Buffalo before retiring in 2020.

Now with a young family, the 36-year-old has taken on a role with the Delta Minor Lacrosse Association (DMLA), overseeing grassroots player development.

He can’t wait to get to work right here at home.

“Delta has such a great history with lacrosse. There are some great players that have come out of here like (Vancouver Warriors stars) Logan Schuss and Mitch Jones as well as others around the league. My belief is you have got to build it up right from the bottom. Get our numbers up and make our program super tight,” said Billings. “My goal is to just get those grassroots programs really dialed in, so when your kid signs up to play lacrosse, it's the best experience in sports he or she has ever had. It has them talking to all their friends too.

“I think lacrosse is so unique. There's no other sport where you are just so connected to another person that plays a game, whether they're on the other side of the country or the continent. It seems like you are one degree of separation from anybody that plays lacrosse. That's really cool. I think it's an amazing opportunity for the kids and Delta to be a part of.”

DMLA is already taking advantage of year-round play with the now covered Delta Sport Court holding weekly box lacrosse skill sessions.

The association is also making a big effort to bring new players on board.

They have partnered up with the Warriors for a program that will see pro players visiting schools starting next month for an introduction to the game. The stops include: Cliff Drive Elementary (Jan. 9), Ladner Elementary (Jan. 16), Hawthorne Elementary (Jan. 23), South Park Elementary (Jan. 30), Sunshine Hills Elementary (Feb. 6) and Holly Elementary (Feb. 13).

Those presentations will coincide with Billings hosting a pair of free Try Lacrosse Days at the Ladner Sport Court from noon to 2 p.m. on Jan. 21 and Feb. 18.

“No equipment is required. All they have to do is show up and I will teach them how to play lacrosse,” assured Billings.

While many box lacrosse players are also in the middle of their field seasons, Billings added improving box skills in the off-season only compliments both games.

“I would heavily focus on your box game because it’s those skills that are going to get you recruited,” he said. “You want your strengths to be playing in tight quarters, making quick decisions and finishing with good hands. Those are the characteristics of Canadian (box) players and that’s what (NCAA coaches) are recruiting us for.”