Changes Behind the Bench in Brooklin for the 2024 Campaign

By Mark Stehlin

After the Brooklin Lacrosse Club (BLC) was eliminated from the 2023 Major Series Lacrosse (MSL) Playoffs, Head Coach Jason Crosbie told his players that he was stepping away from his duties to devote more time to his family. General Manager Brad MacArthur said, “we’d like to thank Jason and his family for their time and sacrifices while he lead the club. He stepped in during a challenging time with the pandemic yet managed to always have the players positioned to be a tough out no matter who we played, and who was in the lineup”. MacArthur then turned his attention to establishing a new team behind the bench. 

He has decided to go with Joel Johnson as his new head coach saying that Johnson “has bled Brooklin colours for many years” having played with the Redmen and the Merchants.  His father Barry Johnson was an Assistant General Manager with the Redmen squad during their 2000 Mann Cup championship and went on to act as General Manager for several years. The Johnson lacrosse legacy also extends to sister, Jennifer, who was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame alongside Redmen legend and coach Gavin Prout last month. MacArthur added that, after speaking with Prout, Prout was not able to fully commit to the team for next summer due to some yet to be determined professional moves. MacArthur added that he would rely on Prout and his knowledge as a “resource for next summer” should Prout's time allow.

Joining Johnson on the bench are former Redmen player Brad Reed and the recent head coach of the Brooklin Merchants, Clancy Almas

Of Reed, MacArthur said Reed brings BLC spirit to the table “as an alumnus and he knows what Brooklin lacrosse is about”. He added that he “coached alongside Reed in the Arena Lacrosse League” and has learned what he is capable of behind the bench. MacArthur was happy to elevate Almas saying he “did a bang-up job with the Merchants” in the last few years and has “persevered” to be a consistent force and coach. He added that Almas is a “genuine good guy and cares about the players he coaches.”

Johnson is thrilled to get the nod and added there is “nowhere he’d rather be” than behind the bench in Brooklin. When he was younger, he was able to spend time around many Brooklin players and coaching legends due to his father’s role with the club. As the new head coach, he said he will bring “energy and a good work ethic” to the role. He has coached at almost all levels of lacrosse locally and plans to add to the “great work that has already been done with this team”. When asked about his assistants he said he and Brad are “best friends who have shared many coaching and playing adventures”. They share a history with local lacrosse, and he looks forward to combining their strengths to see where it leads.  He added that he and Almas coached a gold winning U-17 field team in Halifax a few years ago and he has “always respected him and sees his dedication” leading to success for Brooklin. Johnson said that he cares about this club and wants to see it return to higher places in the standings. He said the Johnson family connection to the team is one he is proud of and he wants to ensure “the story is not finished”. 

Reed said, “this is a wonderful opportunity and one that he looked forward to reaching a few years ago”.  When asked what he hopes to bring to the team in his role, he indicated that “aggression and hard work” are two things he expects to see from the players. In addition, he will be looking for players to be “accountable to their job on the floor” and he wants to see them “do what they do best”.  Almas stated “he felt good to get the chance to move up from his role with the Brooklin Merchants” a team he was enormously proud of last year. He wants to see that “Major Series culture where winning brings back players”. He will bring an effort to ensure players are “all on the same page”. He also brings a systems approach and wants to instill an “exciting offense that gets the job done”. He has been impressed with the “high skill level and no quit” attitude that he has always seen with lacrosse in Brooklin and wants to be part of that culture.

The announcement of the head coach and staff for the Brooklin Merchants will be made soon.

Next up for BLC is the Major Series Junior Entry Draft scheduled for January 21, 2024 in Oakville.