It’s not every year Saanich sends a pair of students to Yale University, or to a top-five ranked NCAA Div. 1 athletics program.
Grade 12 students Griffin and Skyler Wilson are the latest Claremont secondary grads to commit to an NCAA varsity athletics team. It brings the total number of grads from the Claremont field lacrosse academy that have gone to post secondary up to 70 since the program’s 2004-05 inception.
The Wilson twins moved to Cadboro Bay three years ago from Edmonton. They were season ticket holders of the Edmonton Rush and were excited to watch them win the NLL Champions Cup, knowing the club was going to move (which they did, to Saskatoon). When they arrived they applied to Claremont but didn’t get in on their playing merit alone, said lacrosse program head Darren Reisig.
“To be honest we’re told that most of the applicants are pretty good players. We didn’t know [when the Wilsons applied] they’d be this good,” Reisig said.
A reunion of sorts took place recently as about a dozen of Claremont’s 2017 grads rendezvoused at the school, all on holiday break from U.S. schools.
Two of those were attackers Jackson Boyd of the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Brayden Brown of Bellarmine University.
Both are set to play their first college games when the NCAA Div. 1 season starts this spring, but as freshman, they know playing time could be limited.
“For all of the fall semester it’s just training and scrimmaging with your team, as much as you like your teammates you have to work hard to prove yourself,” Brown said.
Brown’s introduction to the NCAA season will be a travelling one as his team only plays four home games and will travel for the other nine. Brown is hoping to be in the lineup at mid-season when he faces fellow grad Brad McCulley of Robert Morris University.
Boyd is also looking forward to playing a friendly face when NJIT faces Delaware, who recruited 2017 Claremont grad Adam Fulton.
In hearing from Boyd and Brown, it’s clear a lot is on the shoulders of the Wilson twins, as the talented midfielders will be expected to carry straight-A’s at Yale.
“It’s a lot of responsibility, we picked Yale for the chance to get the best education we could,” Griffin said.
The Wilsons will be back in the summer to play box lacrosse as underage Junior A Shamrocks, a privilege rarely handed out. It puts them in a category with Jesse King and Max Wilson, two of the top lacrosse talents from Victoria in recent years.
“The goal is to play for the [WLA] Shamrocks one day, that’d be great,” Skyler said.
The scouts of NCAA field lacrosse programs continue to value both Claremont and Canadian-produced lacrosse players for their attacking skills they gain from the box version of the game, something that’s mostly absent from U.S. lacrosse culture.
“It’s true the U.S. scouts like the stick skills honed in box lacrosse,” said Reisig, a former Mann Cup winner with the senior Shamrocks and longtime pro with the NLL. Reisig runs the lacrosse academy with another teacher and former Shamrock Chris McKay.
“We work on a hybrid game here that adds the athletic field component to the skills game.”