Rarely do you find former U Sports talent on an NLL roster. That’s not the case for the afternoon affair between the Vancouver Warriors and San Diego Seals will feature a special U Sports athlete, but not one who played lacrosse. While there is one player who we will get to later who played U Sports, he is joined by a duo of former CUFLA athletes, who played college lacrosse in the great white north.
The home Vancouver Warriors have no CUFLA alumni, but this is not something that is surprising. Ever since pro-lacrosse came back to Canada’s most western province, the team’s roster has been stocked with local talent, few of whom venture east to play in the CUFLA, which is largely Ontario based.
Vancouver has an active roster featuring 16 players who grew up in British Columbia, and one would be hard-pressed to find an NLL roster without a couple of players from the province. The game is extremely popular in the west, and many players will find their way out to the coast in the off-season to play for a team in the Western Lacrosse Association (WLA), one of the largest summer playing stages for NLL athletes. All of this leads to many players opting not to go to university out east and play field lacrosse in the CUFLA, leading to a rarity of CUFLA alumni on the Warriors.
Although that does not mean the Warriors are without Canadian university talent. Tyler Codron, a defensman for the warriors formerly played U Sports football for the University of British Columbia (UBC), which is the highest collegiate level of the gridiron game in Canada.
An ACL injury ended his football career but did not exterminate his hopes of a professional sporting career. “I played box lacrosse when football wasn’t on” said Codron in an interview with NLL.com’s Adam Levi, and he had an abundance of skill in the box game to get pro opportunities.
He was drafted by the now-defunct Portland Lumberjacks and made the 2009 all-star rookie team. That was only the start of a career, which has now led him back home to the Lower Mainland. Before making his BC return, his career has long been plagued with multiple injuries, but that does not seem to be an issue anymore for the multi-sport athlete, as he played every game for Vancouver in their inaugural season under the Warriors brand. He has now played 38 of his last 38 games in the NLL and has become a staple of Vancouver’s defence.
While he may not be a Canadian university Lacrosse alumnus, he is a multi-sport athlete, something which is becoming rare in the evolution of youth sports across the country. Codron is different than the other Canadian University players who will feature in the game, but his achievements cannot be ignored.
While the home team does not have any CUFLA flavour to it, that’s not the case for the visiting San Diego Seals, who have two former players, including a national championship-winning captain. Matt Sykes used to run across the field with the Guelph Gryphons, but that’s nothing compared to the heavy trophy lifting that Mike Carnegie did with the Western University Mustangs during his time at the London, Ontario school.
Carnegie is in a different type of season this year; he made his debut with the Calgary Roughnecks in 2008 and has been with the Alberta lacrosse club since then, playing 182 regular season NLL games and winning two NLL Championships in the red and black. His NLL tenure has lasted longer than all but two NLL teams (in their current locations), something which is an achievement itself.
In his time as a Mustang, he captained the team and led them to two national championships. His achievements have not been forgotten at the school, as the school’s website still highlights him as one of their best ever.
After pursuing a business degree at Western’s well-regarded Ivey Business school, he has gone on to a have a successful career in business, as he has named to Calgary Business’ top 40 under 40 last year thanks to his work at Stantec Consulting LTD, an engineering company based in Calgary.
While his successful business career is one thing, and his lacrosse accolades another, he is currently putting his relocation and adjusting skills to the test as he plays on a new team, which is a franchise younger than his own NLL career.
Guelph may have not lifted as many CUFLA trophies as western has, but that does not mean than Matt Skyes is any less of a player. He is at the opposite end of the spectrum as Carnegie is, as he is in his rookie season of NLL action, while also continuing to pursue and education across the continent at the University of Guelph.
He only has two NLL games under his belt, but so far he has not looked out of place. The Longsticker on the pitch for Guelph was selected 25th overall in the most recent NLL draft, headlining the Seals draft class. Fellow CUFLA member Oliver Bolsterli (McGill) was also selected by the Seals but failed to make the final roster.
Through his pair of games this season, Sykes has an assist but is still seeking out his first professional goal, could that come Sunday afternoon against the Warriors? We will all have to wait and see.
Two CUFLA alum and a U Sports football player make up the Canadian university talent between the Warriors and Seals, and all three players will be watched closely by their coaching staff who are still making blueprints for the rest of their team’s NLL campaigns.