Pro career on hold – but game still goal

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The COVID-19 pandemic may have paused the games – but it cannot stop Kyle Dawson’s dream to play professional lacrosse.

“My goal is still to play in a NLL (National Lacrosse League) game,” said the former Mustangs lacrosse standout recently drafted 41st by the San Diego Seals. “It may be difficult now to continue playing lacrosse at a high level, but it is still something I want to achieve.”

The 22-year-old Dawson, BSc’20 (Kinesiology), is not alone – hundreds of professional athletes across Canada and around the world have had their careers put on hold.

While Dawson hopes to get back to playing lacrosse soon, he realizes the decision is out of his hands. However, when the whistle blows again, he’ll be ready to go.

“I’m just trying to keep my stick in my hands as much as possible, playing wall ball and getting out to shoot wherever I can,” he said. “I have a pretty good home gym and I’m just trying to maintain my conditioning as if I were in season.”

Dawson first picked up lacrosse at age 12 after his best friend kept begging him to play. Like many young Canadians, he usually had a different sport in mind.

“I had played hockey my entire life until that point. But after my first lacrosse practice, I fell in love with the game,” said Dawson, who was also a first-round pick of the Paris Riverwolves of the Ontario-based Arena Lacrosse League. “It wasn’t until junior lacrosse when I realized I might be able to reach a higher level.”

Dawson spent his Ontario Junior B lacrosse years with the Wallaceburg Red Devils where he racked up 143 goals and 124 assists in just 92 games, including a 53-goal season in 2018.

This year, he finished his Junior A career with the Nanaimo Timbermen, where he won the Keith McEachren Trophy as the British Columbia Junior A Lacrosse League’s most sportsmanlike player. He scored 25 goals and 47 points in 25 games, leading his team in goals during the postseason.

The sportsmanlike nod for Dawson checks out, as he amassed just nine penalty minutes during the six years he played in Wallaceburg. He also represented Team Canada in 2018, picking up a gold medal at the International Indoor Junior Lacrosse World Championship in Saskatoon.

When wrapping up his schooling at Western, Dawson got the call from San Diego that he would be selected in the third round.

“I had a great year last year and it got me noticed by many teams,” he said. “Hearing my name called was an incredible experience and something I had only imagined happening. Going down to San Diego for training camp was a surreal experience. Just being on the floor with some future hall of famers, and some of the game’s best, was incredible.”

This summer, Dawson had planned to keep sharp by playing some Senior A lacrosse with the Brampton Excelsiors, but that too has been put on hold due to COVID-19.

While lacrosse may be on the back burner, Dawson remains busy with schooling as he prepares for his first year at Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto.

“I love understanding how the body works and want to help as many people as I can through to live a healthy life,” he said, noting it may be a bit harder to get that pro game under his belt with school. “But it’s still going to remain a goal.”