When Mathieu Jung takes the field for Team China at the U19 Men’s Lacrosse World Championships in Coquitlam on Friday, the Duncan-born-and-raised defender will be connecting with his heritage in a way few North American athletes get to.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling,” Jung said. “It’s pretty surreal, honestly, to get to represent my home origin country at the world championships.”
China is just one of seven different lacrosse teams Jung will have suited up for within just a few short months. He just graduated from Claremont Secondary School in Victoria, where he played four years with the lacrosse academy team. He spent this spring playing box lacrosse for the intermediate A Nanaimo Timbermen, and was summoned up to play for two different junior teams. And this fall, he will play for B.C. at the U19 field lacrosse nationals and start training with the Maryville University Saints.
Jung set off for Vancouver on Saturday to join his China teammates for a week of two-a-day practices for four days leading up to their first game against Mexico this Friday. It was a lengthy process to make the Chinese team, which started when he realized that he was among the youngest of nearly 300 hopefuls for Team Canada.
As part of applying for Team China, he had to include his grandmother’s papers, confirming that she was born in China, along with game footage.
“There wasn’t really a tryout process,” Jung said, noting that one B.C. player he knows tried out for Team Germany, and had to make multiple trips to Europe as part of the process.
There are four Canadians on the team, including one that Jung has played with on Team B.C., and two Americans. Jung doesn’t speak Chinese, and his family’s dialect is Cantonese, anyway, not the main Chinese dialect of Mandarin. But that shouldn’t be a problem, Jung’s mother, Gina, said, as there are English-speaking coaches in addition to several English-speaking players.
In August, Jung will head to Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri, where he has a scholarship to play for the school’s new NCAA Div. 2 lacrosse team.
He was recruited by Maryville after the coach spotted him playing in a tournament in San Diego, and he liked both the athletics and academics at Maryville, where he will study business administration.
“[The lacrosse team] is actually a start-up program this year. Talking with the coach, he’s got a bunch of skilled guys from all over North America. I’m very excited. It should be really fun.”
Shortly after he drops his bags at Maryville, Jung will jet north to Winnipeg to play with Team B.C. at the national field lacrosse tournament. This will be his second time in the U19 competition and third overall. He’s looking for a bit of revenge after finishing second to Ontario at both previous tournaments.
“Third time’s a charm,” he said.
That takes care of field lacrosse. Jung has also had a busy spring, serving as captain of the intermediate A Nanaimo Timbermen, and playing a handful of games with the junior A Timbermen and junior B Cowichan Thunder. The inter A T-Men are 7-10 with one game remaining, and will make the playoffs, which is an improvement over previous teams.
“We’ve done better than most other Nanaimo teams have in the past,” Jung said.