The Mister Transmission Orillia Kings Jr. B lacrosse team dominated the Newmarket Saints 17-5 in their home opener at Rotary Place on Wednesday night.
More than 200 local lacrosse fans cheered on the home squad on a night when the Kings honoured Jim “Whitey” Wilkie, a long-time local volunteer who passed away on April 8 at the age of 87.
Wilkie, along with his wife, Darlene, and other volunteers, played an integral role in bringing junior lacrosse back to Orillia in 1990. Four years later, Orillia won back-to-back Founder’s Cups.
Wilkie’s children — Larry, Jenny, and Janey — along with his wife Darlene were on hand to celebrate the “legend” and former trainer on Wednesday night.
“He was a community guy who just loved the kids and loved the game,” Larry Wilkie said.
“He did everything he could to get kids on the floor,” Jenny added.
Wilkie volunteered with lacrosse in Orillia for about 55 years; it was the team aspect that he loved most, his kids explained.
“He loved watching kids develop, get better, and mature,” Larry said. “His love for the game was pretty incredible,” Janey Thompson added.
The Wilkies says having their dad honoured during Wednesday’s game was a "huge" deal for the family.
“It blows my mind,” Larry said.
“He would never have been looking for this. He worked really hard, and he always wanted the spotlight to be on the kids,” Jenny added.
Wilkie’s legacy will live on through his grandchildren who all play lacrosse in Orillia today. Wilkie is also the grandfather of Chad Thompson, who went on to play in the National Lacrosse League.
“They will all be on this team or better someday,” Larry said.
“He never cared if they won or lost, he just wanted them to do their best, have a good time, and have the opportunity to play,” Janey added.
Kings’ rookie Brycen Murray, who is the great-great nephew of Wilkie, scored a hat-trick for the Kings on Wednesday night.
“The atmosphere in the crowd was amazing tonight,” Murray said after the game. “It was really great looking up into the crowd and seeing so many people I recognize from the lacrosse community.”
Murray, a Patrick Fogarty Secondary School student, says scoring three goals on the night Wilkie was honoured was special.
“The occasion made me want to play a little harder and with a little more energy,” he said. “This is a night I will always remember.”
The Kings who now have a record of 2-2, are feeling pretty good about their start to the season, says captain Noah Quarrington, who scored a goal in Wednesday night’s game.
“We are feeling really confident,” he said. “Each practice and game we are getting better, trusting ourselves more, and trusting our systems.”
Quarrington says the crowd on Wednesday night was the largest that he’s seen in Orillia during his lacrosse career.
“It’s huge for us to have that kind of support,” he said. “We definitely wanted to win tonight to send a message that we appreciate that support. We aren’t just playing for ourselves but everyone who comes out to support us.”
The Kings return to Rotary Place on Sunday to take on Orangeville at 7 p.m.