Venom hopes TOJLL issue is finally resolved

The Kamloops Venom appears to have won its boardroom battle.

The Venom, Kamloops' lone team in the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League, was supposed to have played three league games already, but they all have been postponed.

The reason, according to Venom manager Carol Pittman, is that two of TOJLL's five teams have questioned what should happen to the remaining players off the Kamloops Rattlers, who folded in the offseason. The Kelowna Raiders and Vernon Tigers felt there should have been a dispersal draft for those Rattlers players, while Pittman and the Venom argue that the players should stay in Kamloops and play for the Venom.

It came to a head on Saturday, when the Raiders were supposed to travel to Kamloops for a night game, but refused. An emergency governors meeting was originally scheduled for today, but was cancelled after Dan Wray, TOJLL's interim chair, sent out an email.

"As of this afternoon, I have the guarantee of the four teams to resume play in the TOJLL," he wrote. "So at this point there will not be a governors meeting. I will spend the next few days trying to sort things out."

Kamloops' other two scheduled games - against the host Raiders on April 26 and the host South Okanagan Flames on April 29 - also were postponed.

For Pittman, it has been a frustrating process.

Once the protesting teams made their complaints known, the Venom went to the B.C. Lacrosse Association for confirmation of the TOJLL's residency rules - the BCLA ruled in favour of Kamloops last week.

"I am writing to inform you that at an emergency meeting of the Senior Directorate, the 11-member panel voted to uphold point 5.06 in the BCLA Senior Operating Policy," wrote Christine Pollock, BCLA's senior directorate chair, in a ruling. "This allows for any junior age player residing in Kamloops to play for the Kamloops Venom, currently the only junior B team in Kamloops registered with the BCLA."

That ruling would be consistent with what happened in Kelowna last season, when the Rutland Raiders and Kelowna Warriors joined to form the Kelowna Raiders. Pittman said the Venom had no complaints when Kelowna went from two teams to one.

But the Raiders and Tigers felt that the Venom would be too strong, according to Pittman, a sentiment that was fueled by "half-truths."

"They called us a super-team," Pittman said. "I don't know how they would know this - we haven't played them . . ."
The Venom did play a pair of exhibition games against the Surrey Rebels last month, winning 25-9 and 19-5.

Pittman said one of the "half-truths" was that the Venom was poaching junior A players. The Venom's lone junior A player is Kamloops native Quinn Smith who, according to Pittman, is with the Venom while awaiting a transfer.

Also, there was some question as to whether there were enough Kamloops players to field two teams.

"(The Rattlers) just didn't have enough support," Pittman said. "(Former Rattlers president) Lon Kelsey said they had two team meetings and seven kids came out.

"He asked for the parents to help out . . . you need them if you want to have an executive, and no parents showed up."
Pittman said there was a possibility that five Merritt players would come out for the Rattlers, but it wasn't enough.

"You can't have a lacrosse team with seven players and five maybes," she said.

The Venom joined the TOJLL in 2008, and won the league title in 2010. When it joined the league, it was the seventh team - two of them in Kamloops and two of them in Kelowna.

For now, the Venom is scheduled to play host to the Armstrong Shamrocks on Saturday, 7:30 p.m., at Memorial Arena.
Pittman is glad that it appears as though the issue is settled, but feels further dialogue is needed.

"I'm relieved . . . but a little scared, too," Pittman said. "I think we need a meeting . . . there are a lot of things that aren't cleared up. I think we need to dispel a few rumours."

The Venom is scheduled to play 16 league games, eight of them at home. Of the three games that need to be rescheduled, two are road games.

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