Langdon teenagers Dexter Hannigan and Brody Tweit grew up down the road from each other, playing on the same local lacrosse and hockey teams.
But now, the two hamlet-dwellers and long-time teammates can expect to finally compete against each other, after the 16-year-old athletes were each named by opposing teams in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League’s (RMLL) 2023 Junior A draft on Feb. 13.
Hannigan heard his name called by the Calgary Jr. A Mountaineers as the sixth-round, 23rd-overall pick, while Tweit was picked up by the Okotoks Jr. A Raiders as the fifth-round, 18th-overall pick.
After years of wearing the same jerseys, the Langdonites admitted it will be interesting to line up on opposing sides of the floor for the first time.
“I think it will be really fun – a good little rivalry and we’ll have fun with it,” said Tweit, a defenseman/transition player.
The two Langdon-based teens are products of the Strathmore Venom Lacrosse Club and current members of HOKS – a select team comprised of the best midget (U18) lacrosse players from High River, Okotoks, the Calgary Knights, and Strathmore.
The RMLL is the governing body for Alberta’s top lacrosse leagues for both junior and senior age divisions. The leagues encompass teams from throughout the province, and even include a few organizations from other western Canadian provinces, including Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
At the junior A level, there are only four teams in the RMLL, including the Mounties, the Raiders, the St. Albert Jr. A Miners, and the Saskatchewan Jr. A Swat.
Tweit, who is a Grade 11 student at Chestermere High School, said it felt awesome to hear his name as one of the 40 called in this month’s RMLL Junior A draft. After 10 years of playing lacrosse, he said being selected by the Raiders felt like the culmination of a decade’s hard work.
“You work hard for it, so it’s nice to get noticed and be selected by such a good team and organization,” he said.
“I’m super excited. It means a lot to be able to play at the highest level and have the opportunity to play there for the next couple years.”
Likewise, Hannigan said it was surreal to be picked in the draft, and he is eager to get going with his new Mounties teammates in the coming weeks and months.
“It was a humbling experience, to say the least,” he said. “It’s always been the end goal to play the highest level I can. I have an opportunity now to see what happens.”
They will join their new teams in early March, with hopes of playing their first full junior seasons in the RMLL this spring and summer. As it’s rare for first-year junior players to play junior A, it’s likely they’ll play for their team’s junior B affiliates in 2023, before hopefully making the step up to junior A the following year.
Hannigan, who plays forward, won’t be entering the junior age group completely blind. He said he gained some valuable U21 experience as an affiliate player last season, playing a few games for Okotoks’ junior B team in the RMLL.
Despite being just 15 at the time, Hannigan showed he was ready to make the step up to the older age group by bagging a few goals.
“I played a little junior B last year in Okotoks, and it was a big eye-opener to see the difference in ages and overall IQ you get comparing a 21-year-old to a 16-year-old coming out of midget,” he said.
“I thought I played pretty good. The first one, I came out and we played the Shamrocks, who lost only a couple of games all year. They were the hotshots, but I got a couple goals, which felt good.”
In addition to playing competitively for the HOKS team, Hannigan is currently a Grade 11 student at the National Sport School, which is based out of northwest Calgary’s Winsport.
While it’s a grind to make the long drive to class from southeast Rocky View County every day, he said it’s worth it, considering the many benefits that come with attending NSS for student-athletes – namely, additional training opportunities.
“Every day, we either play lacrosse, or we’re in the gym,” he said. “It’s a big bonus to have that every day – especially in the off-season, when there’s not much else going on. It’s good to have a stick in your hands.”
The two athletes said their respective preseasons will begin early next month, with the RMLL’s 2023 junior box lacrosse season officially kicking off in April. The regular season runs until July, with the playoffs taking place shortly afterwards and running into August.
For more information, visit rockymountainlax.com