Brampton fans are finally getting to see the Major Excelsiors return to the floor this summer. It has been three long years since the team played, and the last season they did is one most fans want to forget about. Following the COVID shut down, it was announced the team would be moving to Owen Sound when they returned to play. A struggle ensued for ownership of the historic team due to its alleged sale in 2018. Finally an agreement was reached which saw the Excelsiors returned to the BELC and an expansion team added in Owen Sound. Despite this, the team chose to step back form the 2022 season in order to work out the final details with new expansion without impeding the league’s season.
With those details finalized, fans and the BELC Board of Directors alike are excited for the Major Excelsiors to return to the floor. “Our members gave us a directive to field a Major team in 2022. It was a hard decision to step back from that, but it was the right one to ensure the season was able to continue without damage to our league or our sport.” said BELC President Glenn McClelland. “The membership placed their trust in our new Board to make the right call, they were very understanding and accepting of this. We have every intention to prove that trust was well placed, we will not let the mistakes of the past be repeated.”
While the 153 year old Excelsiors’ legacy is safe, it is not going to be an easy path back to their championship days. “It’s no secret this team has been chipped away at and broken down over the past 10 years.” Explains Majors’ GM and Head Coach Dan Teat. “We’ve had All-Star players and first overall picks sold off year after year and now we’ve had to divide our remaining roster with Owen Sound.” Teat refers to part of the deal which returned the Major Excelsiors to the BELC’s control and saw the expansion in Owen Sound. “This is a complete rebuild in every sense, we didn’t even have a bank account to get us going.”
A large part of the new BELC Board’s vision is building a strong sense of community and local support. McClelland details how they plan to go about this. “Community support is the absolute foundation of our club, we don’t have private owners with deep pockets. It’s the fans who come out to games, the local businesses who sponsor us, the Brampton Minor Lacrosse system and the volunteers who give their time – that’s who keeps this club going. All this support cannot be one way though. We owe it to our community to return that in every way we can.” In the past, the BELC has been criticized for their lack of community engagement. “We’re changing that. The membership is now more engaged than they have been in a very long time, this year we inducted 40 new Life Members to make up for a drought of recognition over the last decade. We are working very closely with the BMLA not to just promote us, or them, but to promote Brampton lacrosse as a whole, and we are reaching out to other community organizations we can support and help promote.”
On the floor, Teat has been taking a similar community-oriented approach to building this team. “Brampton has a lot of home grown talented players who love the game and who love the team. That’s who we want to build this franchise around.” He explains a unique feature of the Brampton Excelsiors in the MSL. “We’re the only team where players can start their careers in peanut and be part of the same team, the same uniform right up through Junior and Major. These kids get to grow up watching the pros wear the same jersey they do each game. Finally getting to this level, getting to now be the role models that the next generation looks up to is an incredible feeling.”
That Excelsiors’ pride will be at the centre of the team as they work to earn their place back at the top of the league. “When we divided the roster, those were the guys we prioritized, our hometown heroes. They are the core we’re going to structure this team’s future around.”
But Teat emphasized again that this is an uphill battle. “The team is very young, a lot of these guys are only a year or two out of Junior. Unfortunately we still have some strong players unable to participate because of PLL commitments, and we had a few guys get offers to spend a summer living and playing on the West Coast. They will leave some noticeable gaps, but we can’t ask these young men to forego these amazing opportunities they have. We will be relying on our veteran players to fill in some of these gaps, and to help our young guys develop over the season”
Dan knows first hand the challenges the team is facing in the immediate future, it’s not the first time the Excelsiors have had to rebuild from the ground up. “I was part of that group in the 90’s when the team got dismantled. We lost a lot of really good, really experienced players. Us young guys had to step up a lot. It took time, but eventually we ended up back at the top of the league. We’re going to do that again.”
The BELC Board is confident that despite these challenges, things are on the right track and the future of the Majors looks bright. “We have the right people in place. When a hole becomes apparent we have someone stepping in to help without hesitation. Everyone on the Board is passionate and driven. We’re asking the community and our membership to put their trust in us during this rough rebuilding time so that we have the resources and fan base to keep this momentum going.” Explains Glenn. ‘We’re using the same fight and grit which got the team back in Brampton to now get the team back on top.”
The Major Excelsiors return to the floor on May 25th at 8:00 pm when they host the Six Nations Chiefs at historic Brampton Memorial Arena! Kids wearing an Excelsiors jersey get in free with an adult. You can find the team’s full schedule here. For more information, including how to purchase your season’s pass, check out the majors on Facebook and Twitter.