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'Locker-room leader': Crash victim honoured by lacrosse team

Luke West’s number 11 retired by Barrie Bombers Junior 'C' Lacrosse Club during touching ceremony Sunday at Peggy Hill Team Community Centre

Friends, family and fans packed the Peggy Hill Team Community Centre in south-end Barrie on Sunday evening for an exhibition lacrosse game to hojour a player beloved by many who died tragically last year.

Luke West’s number 11 was retired by the Barrie Bombers Junior 'C' Lacrosse Club in a ceremony before a pre-season game on April 23 between the home team Bombers and the visiting Huntsville Hawks at the Mapleton Avenue arena. 

Both teams lined the blue-lines as the painted decal of a Bombers jersey with the name West and number 11 was unveiled.

The City of Barrie, which runs the facility, will allow the image to stay for the remainder of the Bombers' season.

While it was referred to as an exhibition game, more than one league representative said both teams would be tough and hard, “just like Luke would play.”

West’s father is a lacrosse legend in Huntsville, making both teams suited for the game.

The Bombers and Hawks play in different conferences and won’t see each other unless it is in the finals for the Meredith Cup, of which there is no guarantee.

West was one of six people killed in the Aug. 27, 2022 crash on McKay Road in south-end Barrie when their vehicle plummeted into a large construction hole on the closed road. He was 22 years old. 

The tragedy shook the community as people have continued to mourn West, Haley Marin, Curtis King, Jersey Mitchell, River Wells, and Jason Ono-O’Connor — all of whom were in their early 20s.

Todd King coached West for years and spoke at the ceremony, calling his former player and friend “a locker-room leader who always had a smile on his face.”

Kyle Brun lives in Barrie and never knew West, nor does he play lacrosse.

“I had to be here; we all should, no? It's been a great game, and it just feels like both teams are playing very hard in a game that doesn’t mean anything points-wise," Brun said. "(It shows) you they care about the young man.”

As for the final score of the game, the Bombers won 8-6

The Bombers Junior 'C' home-opener will take place Friday at 8 p.m., followed by another game on Saturday at 7 p.m. Both games are against Halton Hills and will take place at the Peggy Hill Team Community Centre.