MANCHESTER, England _ Happy birthday, Madalyn.
     Your dad, Team Canada defenceman Phil Sanderson, would have loved to have been there.
     “My daughter turned 3 on Saturday and I missed her birthday, which I feel bad about,’’ he said after practice Sunday.
     The team’s 10-9 victory over the United States the previous night brightened his spirits.
     Phil and Jaclyn also have an 18-month-old son, Nolan. Phil, 33, is a full-time electrician for Phazer Electric in Brampton, wiring commercial properties with electric, computer and phone hookups.
     He plays indoor lacrosse for the NLL’s Toronto Rock during winters and is with field lacrosse’s MLL Toronto Nationals this summer.
     “A lot of early mornings and a lot of late nights,’’ he replies when asked how he juggles all that is on his plate.
     It’s not true that he was born with a lacrosse stick in his hands, although it seems that every Sanderson growing up in Orangeville gets involved in the sport.
     Phil’s father Lindsay Sanderson and Lindsay’s brothers Terry, Phil and Shane all played senior lacrosse. Lindsay has been GM of the NLL’s Philadelphia Wings, Terry is GM of the NLL’s Toronto Rock and Shane is a former NLL assistant coach.
     The four brothers’ sons took up lacrosse, too.
     Uncle Phil’s son Chris Sanderson is Canada’s No. 1 goalie and Chris’ brothers Dustin and Ryan are here watching tournament games. Dustin has made a remarkable recovery from a broken neck suffered at age 15 in a 2001 midget game.
     “He’s probably the biggest inspiration in the Sanderson family,’’ says Team Canada defenceman Phil Sanderson. “It’s great to see him leading a normal life.’’
     Lindsay’s sons Phil, Nate and Brandon have been players, and Terry’s son Josh of the NLL’s Calgary Roughnecks is one of the indoor pro circuit’s all-time leading scorers.
     “I don’t think we really had a choice,’’ says Team Canada defenceman Phil Sanderson. “I honestly do believe that we were born and bred to play lacrosse and keep the dream alive in Orangeville.
    “When I started playing, I was three and I had to play with kids who were 7 and 8 because we didn’t have enough people to form teams at every age level. Myself and my cousin Josh, my older brother Brandon and my cousins Ryan and Chris, we were all 3 to 5 years old and we had to play with the older kids.
     “It’s in our blood. We have a great passion for the sport and we’d do anything to promote it.’’
     He says he won’t force lacrosse onto Nolan “but I’m sure just with him being around it he’ll get the itch to play.’’
     Same goes for Madalyn.
     “She has her own lacrosse stick at home and we do mess around with it,’’ he says.
     Because Orangeville hasn’t had a senior team, most of the Sandersons have played for the Excelsiors in nearby Brampton. Nate and Josh are on the floor this summer. Phil is taking this year off. He got banged up during the NLL season and decided to concentrate on honing his field game with the Nationals rather than try to run with both indoor and outdoor teams this summer.
     The muscular 195-pound defenceman is loving his experience with Team Canada.
     “This is a dynamite group of guys,’’ he says.
     GM Johnny Mouradian is happy to have him.
     “Phil has played at a high level through junior, senior and in the pros,’’ says Mouradian. “He brings intensity and humour, which is a very important component in the locker room. Having fun is a key to success.’’
     Sanderson is lining up with some men he’s battled against in the OLA and in the NLL. For instance, Peterborough’s John Grant is a teammate this week and the two often clashed on the floor in Excelsiors-Lakers OLA games. And last September the Excelsiors won the Mann Cup over a New Westminster club that included Team Canada’s Kevin Crowley, Jordan Hall and Curtis Manning.
     “We’ve literally hated each other at times,’’ he says. “We try to kill each other in the box game, whether it’s west or east, but we put that all aside for this.
     “Our one common goal is to win the world championship and represent Canada as proudly as we can. It’s a great group of guys. Everybody is getting along. Everybody is pulling in the same direction to achieve our goal.’’
     Not that there aren’t any verbal shots being taken.
     “There’s a couple of jabs taken every once in a while,’’ Phil admits. “It’s not just to the Bellies guys. Obviously the Brampton boys will go after the Peterborough guys a bit and vice versa.
     “If you see an opportunity to get a little jab in, we take advantage of it. It’s all in fun.’’

Neil Stevens
Team Canada media contact

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