Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Lakers to honour John Grant Jr at Tuesday's playoff opener vs Oakville

John Grant Jr. will be the last Laker to wear the #24 and he'll begin wearing it in his last playoff run Tuesday night.
(Photo: Tim Prothero)
John Grant Jr. was in diapers when he grabbed his first lacrosse stick, probably a wooden one because his legendary lacrosse father didn’t like those “Tupperware ones.”

To say that the Peterborough Grants’ family life centred around lacrosse is an understatement; it was life. John Sr. was a phenomenal player who grew up in the Civic Arena area of Park Street with either a hockey a lacrosse stick in his hands, admiring the play of another legend Bob Allan who he watched and copied. Senior went on to an excellent career with the Peterborough Lakers and starred in the pro league for Philadelphia where fans stuck to him like ants on honey.

John Jr. was showing the same kind of talent at a young age joining, and growing up with, the Peterborough Minor Lacrosse Association house league and Lakers’ all star teams.
The kid was incredible and the junior team couldn’t wait to get hold of him. He jumped intermediate lacrosse and went to junior winning the OLA Junior A MVP award in 1994.

The Senior Lakers were anticipating his arrival and he didn’t disappoint them winning the Major Series Lacrosse league rookie of the year award in his first season with the big squad. In that year his #24 wasn’t available but he grabbed it the next season and has worn it ever since, playing most of those years alongside his friend and now Lakers’ assistant coach Tracey Kelusky. That was  a long time ago.

John Grant Jr. has been a Laker  for almost all of his 41 years, at least 37 of them.
He has also shared his various talents with Canada’s box and field lacrosse teams, winning gold medals, and with National Lacrosse League professional teams, winning championships.
Just with the senior Lakers he has amassed more than 1,600 regular and playoff points in his fewer than 20 years; that’s well over four points per game.

Lakers’ present general manager Paul Day grew up in Peterborough, knows about the legendary lacrosse father and son and was the man responsible for helping get Junior back to the Lakers for one more season.

“I was able to draft him to Rochester (in the National Lacrosse League) out of college and we grew up on the same street in Peterborough. His first year in Rochester he almost won the championship by himself. He has always been a fantastic player skill wise and later in his career he matured into one of the best champions to play the game, winning everything, everywhere, at all ages.” 

Last season John took a year off from the Lakers but played in the pro leagues of box and field in his new hometown of Denver, Colorado where he coaches a high school team, living with his wife Raygen and daughter Gabriel. But the itch in his lacrosse world just couldn’t be scratched satisfactorily and he wanted one more chance to win a Mann Cup in his Canadian hometown of Peterborough, Ontario. He returned this year and played in his last regular season game as a Laker last Thursday.

On Tuesday, August 2 the Century 21 Lakers will honour John Grant Jr. with a special night as they open the playoffs, Grant’s last with the Lakers, at the Memorial Centre at 7:45 p.m.
He has given the Lakers senior team almost 20 seasons and the Lakers’ board decided it was time to give him something back.

Asked recently what he owed his longevity to, he replied simply, “Insanity”. It is the “insanity” of playing while hurting after years of his body being beat up, some parts surgically repaired, but he told the interviewer if he is going to be hurting anyway he might as well play the game he loves while enduring that pain.

It is lacrosse he has devoted his life to. It is lacrosse that he has given so much since he was just a little boy racing down the floors of the Kinsmen, Northcrest and Memorial Centre rinks. It is also lacrosse that has given so much to him running on concrete and carpeted rink floors as well as grass and turf fields across the world.

Tuesday at the Memorial Centre is John Grant Jr. night.  Peterborough’s Century 21 Lakers and their fans are giving him one night for all those nights he has given them.

There will never be another  #24 like him. In fact, no Laker will ever wear the number again; the Lakers are retiring his jersey after this season . . . the first Laker to receive such an honour.