Little did Alex Millin know that a ball hockey league in Korea would lead to him playing at the FIL World Lacrosse Championships in Israel.?
Having moved to Korea to teach English, Millin missed his days playing lacrosse for the Bishop's Gaiters (2010-14). He had followed some friends from Bishop's who had gone to Korea to teach, and after being in the Asian country for just over a year was making do with ball hockey for his sporting outlet.
Then one day, one of his friends casually mentioned that he had “some friends who used to play lacrosse here.”
“I got in contact with them and then I got in contact with [eventual Korean teammate] #15 Hyunjoon Park and then I ended up just joining them, going out and playing with them,” Millin said after Korea's final game in Israel. “I ended up making some lifelong friends just by going out and playing the good old game of lacrosse.”
Millin played a key role on offence for Korea, competing in its fifth world field lacrosse championship. The 26-year-old midfielder from Port Moody, British Columbia led the team with 15 goals in their seven games and added a pair of assists. He finished strong with 4 goals and an assist as Korea won their final game, a 12-7 decision over Russia to earn 35thoverall in the 46-team tournament.?
He won a Baggataway Cup with Bishop's in 2011 and as a proud Gaiter alumnus was happy to see several other members of the team taking part in the games in Netanya, Israel. Newmarket native Rick Sainthill (Bishop's 2008-12) played for Finland.
A trio of Bishop's alumni who played for the Gaiters in the '00s served as the coaching staff for Luxembourg. Khristopher Scott, originally from Kelowna and now living in Vernon, was the head coach for the nation's first foray onto the world stage. New Westminster native Andrew Barber, now living in Toronto, was an assistant coach alongside Drew Pollock, who has stayed in Lennoxville and is the Gaiters' general manager and assistant coach.
“It's crazy how small the lacrosse world is,” Millin says. “A couple of people have come up to me and said, Oh, you went to Bishop's, do you know this guy? And sure enough, I do know him. Bishop's is a small school, it's a family out there, the team here is a family. The whole lacrosse community is just a small family in itself. It means the world being able to represent the Gaiters through and through.”
Millin spent a total of two years, seven months in Korea. After the World Championships in Netanya he was heading back to Port Moody. Which seems like it might set him up perfectly to play for Korea again at the 2022 FIL worlds, which will be held in nearby Coquitlam. But having moved back to Canada, Millin doesn't think he'll be able to play. That only adds more meaning to the time he got to spend playing alongside his Korean teammates.
“It's been amazing. This is a once in a lifetime experience,” Millin says. “I don't think I'll be eligible for the next one in Coquitlam. I couldn't be happier with this group of guys. Unfortunately we had a couple of injuries so some of the guys couldn't make it here but it's been one hell of a ride hanging out with all of these guys, just getting to experience this, see all of these amazing lacrosse players out here. It truly is one of the best experiences of my life.”
In that once in a lifetime experience, Millin is asked, do a moment or a handful of moments stand out? Are there high points for you?
Millin smiles broadly as he responds with a shake of the head. “No, it's all been too fun, it's all been too fun.”