This summer, the Toronto Nationals are tearing up Major League Lacrosse as the first ever professional field lacrosse team north of the 49th parallel.
General Manager Stuart Brown has made a point of recruiting players from Canada, the Six Nations, and upstate New York to build a roster that reflects the make-up of lacrosse in southern Ontario.
Four of those players cut their field lacrosse teeth in the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association.
Shawn Williams and Delby Powless played for Brock University, with Williams later becoming the coach of the Badgers. His contributions to Brock lacrosse were recently honoured as he was enshrined in the school’s Wall of Fame.
Before he joined the National Lacrosse League and the MLL, Colin Doyle played for Wilfrid Laurier University and regularly led the league in scoring.
Most recently, Steve Hoar played for the University of Toronto, being honoured as CUFLA’s Player of the Year in 2004.
“My fondest memory of CUFLA is going on the road with the team,” Hoar said in a recent email interview. “We had a great bunch of guys and it was always great to get away from school for a few days to play a couple of games.”
Doyle, now a star attacker with the Nationals, played “everything but goal” for Wilfrid Laurier.
He loved seeing his team’s game develop and improve. In particular, he remembers a close loss to Guelph on Laurier’s home turf.
“They were a powerhouse and we were just finding our game at the time. Never been that fond of a loss that much in my life.”
Both Doyle and Hoar saw their time in CUFLA as an opportunity to improve their skills and conditioning and prepare themselves for the pro game.
“Being able to play field lacrosse throughout University allowed me to maintain lacrosse conditioning and have competition at a high level in preparation for the NLL season,” says Hoar adding that “It is really tough to go into training camp if you had not used your stick for several months.”
Doyle agrees, because it gave him a better understanding of the sport of lacrosse.
“It allowed me to help others around me, which in turn helped my own game. We didn't have a ton of experience, so I was helping out wherever I could.”
Hoar is pleased that he decided to play in the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association.
“The best selling point of CUFLA is how they treat the athletes,” says Hoar. “It is a high level sport that allows for your university commitments to be fulfilled. To combine athletics with university allows you to excel at both.”
High school lacrosse players interested in excelling academically and athletically should come to CUFLA’s Top 80 Camp
and show Canadian university lacrosse coaches their skill set.