Blue was the colour of the day last Saturday afternoon at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre, host of both the Ontario Junior Lacrosse League (OJLL) and Major Series Lacrosse (MSL) entry drafts.
St. Catharines Athletics head coach Steve Toll took the podium early to remind everyone, “We all know today who would’ve been taken No. 1.” That player was Tucker Williams.
The league awarded the Whitby Warriors an honourary first-overall pick to make the selection. General Manager Greg O’Connor said of Tucker, “He always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye… He truly was a special boy. And he truly was braver than brave.”
Toll spoke on behalf of the Williams family, including Shawn, Tucker’s father and head coach and general manager of the Las Vegas Desert Dogs. Toll said, “I know deep down inside he wanted to be here, but he’s going to be happy to see a few of his baby Oshawa boys get drafted today.”
There were more than a few. The Oshawa Blue Knights officially broke the OJLL draft record with eight players selected (the previous record was four shared by Fergus (2007), West Durham (2012), East Gwillimbury (2013) and Clarington (2015/2017).
President of Oshawa minor lacrosse, Paul Vivian told InLax through email, “The entire Oshawa Blue Knights organization was exceedingly pleased to learn of the record number of players drafted in the 2023 [OJLL].”
He also recognized Tucker’s honourary first overall pick.
“Our annual Braver Than Brave tournament is a testament to how deeply our love and respect for Tucker, the Williams family, and the Hospital for Sick Children/Sick Kids runs within our club.”
Vivian invites our readers to donate to the Tucker Williams fund through their Braver than Brave page: https://www.oshawablueknights.ca/braver-than-brave
The @Whitby_Warriors have been awarded an honourary first overall selection.
GM Greg O’Connor selects Tucker Williams from @OshawaLacrosse with the honorary first overall pick in the 2023 #OJLLDraft #BraverThanBrave pic.twitter.com/MDpHYDy0vO
— Ontario Junior Lacrosse League (@TheOJLL) January 22, 2023
Kitchener-Waterloo selected multi-sport athlete Clark Dunford first overall.
It’s the second time Dunford has been drafted. The Hamilton Bengal was selected 263rd overall by the Hamilton Bulldogs in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection Draft just over 10 months ago.
A few hours prior to Dunford’s selection, 30 junior players heard their names called in the MSL draft.
Justin Sykes led a parade of Mimico Mountaineers – 10 in total – when he was selected first overall by the Cobourg Kodiaks.
Elora’s Sam Dramnitzke was the only junior B player selected. He went to the Owen Sound North Stars with the 29th and penultimate pick. Owen Sound led the draft with seven picks over five rounds. Their selections follow the year the North Stars picked Thomas McConvey (also from Mimico) first overall in 2022. Teammate Peyton Cormier went to Brooklin second last year.
Mimico Jr. A president Rob Michalsky told InLax through email, “We are extremely proud of the young men that have come thru our program.”
If Jonathan Donville (2020 1st overall pick) is included, Mimico can boast three of the last four top selections. This is not lost on Michalsky.
“Having a large number of overage juniors selected in the [MSL] draft over the past several years, as well as going on to careers with the NLL, PLL or PBLA hopefully shows young lacrosse players coming up that our program develops players that are skilled, hard working and difficult to play against.”
Following the draft, the 22nd overall selection (Jackson Webster to Six Nations) was voided as Webster still has one year of junior remaining.