Bandits steal show: Buffalo lacrosse players meet with Dunkirk students

Students got to practice their new lacrosse skills after a demonstration from the Bandits players.

Growing up in a small town outside of Vancouver, British Columbia, Chase Fraser discovered his love of lacrosse at the age of 4.

One night as a child, he was watching a game with his family when a fight broke out. It was right then that Fraser knew playing lacrosse was what he wanted to do.

Now 24 years later, that childhood memory has turned into a career that has reached the pinnacle of the sport, as Fraser and his Buffalo Bandits teammates celebrated winning the championship of the National Lacrosse League this past June.

Tuesday morning, Fraser and two of his teammates, Cam Wyers and Dylan Robinson, visited the Dunkirk City School District in hopes of creating a childhood memory to inspire the next generation of potential lacrosse players.

“It’s an awesome experience to give back to the community that supports us so much,” Fraser said. “Especially with it being kids, and this being one of their first times ever playing lacrosse. Seeing the excitement on their faces when they are playing and starting to enjoy the game, it warms us all when we’re doing this. It’s part of the reason why we play this game, to give back.”

Chase Fraser, Buffalo Bandits forward, demonstrated stick handling skills to a group of Dunkirk School No. 3 students on Tuesday morning.

The Bandits visited School 3 on Tuesday morning, then departed for the other elementary schools in the district — School 5, School 7 and the Intermediate School — to offer the experience to even more students. Throughout a short introduction and demonstration of skills, the classes from kindergarten through second grade remained calm and quiet as Fraser spoke. He gave the students three rules before they began to play: listen, participate, and have fun.

“It’s exciting. I love to have our kids have the exposure to learn about different elements they have never had the opportunity to see,” School 3 Principal Kisun Peters said.

After Fraser led demonstrations for the students along with his teammates, Wyers and Robinson, the students then grabbed their sticks and put their new skills to use. Dozens of tennis balls were spread across the gym floor for the students to practice scooping, passing and possessing the ball. Frazier could be seen with a smile on his face throughout the free-play time, just like the smile on many of the children’s faces.

“The funniest thing I see is when they pick the ball up and start screaming and buzzing around. They get the zoomies like puppies, it’s awesome,” Fraser said.

After each group of students concluded their time playing with the equipment, Fraser addressed the group again to encourage them all to visit a Bandits game in “Bandit Land” at Buffalo’s KeyBank Center. He told the students they each would receive a voucher for buy-one, get-one free tickets to any future home game this season.

OBSERVER Photos by Braden Carmen Three players from the Buffalo Bandits lacrosse team - Chase Fraser, back left; Dylan Robinson, back second from right; and Cam Wyers, back right - visited School 3 on Tuesday morning to inspire the next generation of potential athletes. The trio is shown with Sarah Crane’s second grade class.

“It’s awesome to spread the knowledge of the game and get the awareness up,” Fraser said. He noted that Bandits players visit schools across the region regularly, often three or four times a week, to spread the enthusiasm for the game they love. Oftentimes, the school districts the Bandits visit see an immediate jump in lacrosse sign-ups throughout the community after their visit.

“The schools love it. The kids at first wonder, ‘Who are these strangers in our gym?’ Once we start talking to them, they realize we’re just guys here to have fun. It’s always great,” Fraser said.

The skepticism faded quickly on Tuesday, as it did not take long for the students to warm up to the championship winning athletes. By the end of the final visit from the second grade classes of School 3, students were giving Fraser hugs and posing for photos together. It would be hard to find a better way to represent a championship organization than how the Bandits did on Tuesday.

“As champions, for them to take time to come down as an organization to work with our kids, it’s a wonderful thing,” Peters said. “Thanks to Terry Pegula and the Buffalo Bandits organization for taking time to work with our community.”


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