City's lacrosse scene changing

Nanaimo Timbermen junior A lacrosse player Paul Brebber, right, rushes past a Coquitlam Adanacs opponent during a game last season at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. The junior A T-men are under new ownership. - File photo
Nanaimo Timbermen junior A lacrosse player Paul Brebber, right, rushes past a Coquitlam Adanacs opponent during a game last season at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. The junior A T-men are under new ownership.
— image credit: File photo

Hadi Abassi plans to build his Nanaimo Timbermen, right from the foundation. And he’s enlisted some high-profile help.

Abassi, already owner of the V.I. Raiders junior football club and the Nanaimo Timbermen senior A lacrosse club, has now assumed ownership of the Timbermen junior A lacrosse club and the Timbermen intermediate A lacrosse club.

It’s a lot of hard hats to wear, but Abassi has a lot of support, including a new operations manager – Bill Bestwick, former coach and general manager of the Nanaimo Clippers.

Abassi likes the idea of expanding the Timbermen into a club that will develop high school-aged players into Western Lacrosse Association talent.

“It gives us an opportunity to train the coaching staff, the players, everything from the ground up. And we do it as one group, one family,” Abassi said. “We have a lot of young, talented players in Nanaimo and the north Island and I want to be able to work as a team and train all of them and bring them up slowly through the different stages so when they come to WLA, they are ready to play for us.”

He has seen how his V.I. Raiders have co-operated with high school and community football teams in Nanaimo, and wants to see more of that in the lacrosse community.

In the WLA, a semi-pro league, the Timbermen have a number of out-of-town and out-of-province players, so there are travel costs to consider, as well as things like jobs and accommodations in Nanaimo.

The more Nanaimoites like MVP Scott Ranger, Abassi said, the better.

“Especially with senior A, when they become older it is hard for them to leave their family and kids and come and play,” he said. “So there are so many things involved in that that it just makes it easier to start breeding and training your own players. Hopefully we will have 10 Scott Rangers on the floor.”

The junior A Timbermen will be coached in 2012 by Dale Nicks, who takes over from Dave Bremner. (Nicks declined comment until the club makes an official coaching announcement.)

Abassi said Bremner (who always intended to step away from the bench after 2011) has expressed a willingness to continue to help the club with scouting.

And Bestwick said he is excited about the coming seasons, and the chance to work with Abassi.

“Hadi, as everybody knows, is so passionate about this city and so desirous to bring entertainment and championships and business and commerce to this city, that how do you say no?” Bestwick asked.

As a hockey guy moving to the lacrosse box, he said there will be a learning curve, but he expects a lot of similarities as far as business operations.

“I don’t feel as though I’m starting from scratch,” he said.

Both Abassi and Bestwick said there are advantages to consolidating the lacrosse teams.

Bestwick said streamlining the business operations will create efficiencies, and Abassi gave some examples.

“Instead of three people doing marketing for three different teams, we will have one person doing it,” he said. “We can start using our players to go down and coach the younger players.”

Bestwick said he and Abassi had discussed, for months, the idea of “teaming up and growing Hadi’s sports empire to benefit our community.”

So it was the right time to get back in the game.

“The opportunity to do what  you love to do isn’t work,” said Bestwick. “And being able to do what you love to do with people that embrace you and encourage you and want to work collaboratively and collectively is something that I’m really excited and energized to do.”

LACROSSE TALK … Season tickets for the Nanaimo Timbermen senior A and junior A lacrosse teams, as well as season tickets for the V.I. Raiders, are available at the Elite Image office on Barons Road, or by e-mailing Season tickets for Nanaimo's upcoming WLA season cost $70 for nine home games and season tickets for 10 B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League games cost $60. Raiders season tickets, good for five home games, cost $60.

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