When his Cowichan Valley Thunder midget A team didn’t make the provincial box lacrosse championships in Campbell River earlier this month, Mat Jung’s mom, Gina, still had to find a way to get him there and to the annual awards ceremony.
What she knew, and what he would find out, was that he had been named the 2014 Subway BCLA Box Lacrosse Player of the Year.
Jung was one of eight players in B.C. named as the best in their respective zones. The eight were invited up on stage to be honoured at the ceremony.
"They called all the zone winners up and we all got jackets," Jung recalled. "After we all got the jackets, they told us to open them up."
They all expected an envelope or something to fall out, and started shaking their jackets. Finally, it was pointed out that all the jackets were embroidered to recognize that they were zone winners, except Jung’s, which was labeled with Player of the Year.
"I was kind of surprised," he admitted. "It’s kind of a big achievement. I was quite proud of myself, and I’m sure my mom was too."
Having already received a $500 postsecondary scholarship as zone winner, he got another $500 for the provincial honour, the culmination of 13 years of passion and dedication to the sport. In addition to playing, Jung has been a referee for the last five years, and helped coach the pee wee C team this year, when he had time.
With his midget team, Jung had a rough season as the only returning player from the team that won provincial bronze the year before. All the other second-year players had played B or C the previous year, and some were playing A-level lacrosse for the first time. "It had its ups and downs, but overall I thought it was a good season," Jung said. "We finished strong."
Jung did win a provincial silver medal with Cowichan’s intermediate B team. Jung finished second in the scoring race at the provincial championship tournament with 24 points, just two points back of teammate Colin Winship.
In late July, he won a bronze medal with the Vancouver Island team at the BC Summer Games.
This coming weekend, Jung will join Team BC at the national field lacrosse championships in Edmonton, where his teammates will include fellow Thunder star Brian Robb and former Cowichan player Tyler Glanfield. The team’s goal is nothing short of winning it all.
"We definitely want to medal; we’re shooting for the gold," Jung said. "We have a very skilled team. There’s kind of a lot of pressure because the B.C. U16 team has won gold three years in a row."
After that, he’ll prepare for the junior box lacrosse draft in January. He was invited to the Victoria Shamrocks prospect camp, but Team BC practice got in the way. In the longer run, he hopes to pursue the sport into the post-secondary ranks, hopefully playing collegiate field lacrosse in the U.S. Going into Grade 11, he has already spent two years at Claremont Secondary’s lacrosse academy in Victoria. Although he grew up playing box lacrosse, he has made a smooth transition to field in recent years.
"I like playing both, but I’m starting to ease toward liking field better," he said. "When you play it enough, you start liking it a bit more."