Thomas Vaesen wrapped up his intermediate box lacrosse career in remarkable fashion earlier this month when he was named tournament MVP as his Victoria Shamrocks claimed the provincial intermediate A championship.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better feeling, honestly,” Vaesen said. “But it wasn’t just me — there was a whole group of guys behind me as well.”
The Shamrocks won the provincial banner on Aug. 7 with a 7-6 victory over Maple Ridge, knocking off the only team with a better record than their own during the regular season.
“We definitely had a successful year this year,” Vaesen commented. “There were a lot of ups and downs, but it was a great group of guys. When it came down to it, we got the job done.”
Victoria beat Langley and Maple Ridge in the round-robin portion of provincials, and lost to Coquitlam.
“Beating Maple Ridge in the round-robin game was a huge win for us,” Vaesen said. “They were the No. 1 competition for us, and they were the No. 1 seed. In the gold-medal game, we came out hot and didn’t give them any breathing room.”
Vaesen was one of two Cowichan Valley lacrosse players to suit up for the Shamrocks this season, joining Brody Black. Vaesen played 15 games for Victoria, scoring a team-high 49 goals and adding 29 assists for 78 points. Black put up 26 goals and 37 assists for 63 points in 15 games and was named the team’s top rookie.
Vaesen got two days off after provincials before heading to Alabama to begin studies at the University of Montevallo on a field lacrosse scholarship. The Div. II NCAA school recruited Vaesen out of the Claremont Secondary School academy in Victoria, giving him the “best offer” out of a number of schools that expressed interest.
“It’s a first-year program, so I thought I’d come down here and help get them started,” Vaesen said.
It didn’t take him long to realize he wasn’t on Vancouver Island anymore.
“The first thing you notice is the heat,” he said. “It’s incredibly hot. And the humidity. The weather is different; it’s a lot more inconsistent.”
The upstart Montevallo Falcons, who start practicing this week for a season that starts in February have a promising team, Vaesen believes.
“It’s looking pretty good,” he said. “There are a lot of good guys down here.”
From a personal perspective, Vaesen is hoping to make an impact on the program.
“I’m hoping to pretty much just show what I can do in NCAA lacrosse and hopefully play the best I can down here,” he said. “It’s a different climate, a different playing style — I want to show them how Canadians play.”
Vaesen has played box lacrosse for more than a decade, starting with the Cowichan Thunder before moving to the Shamrocks, and he hopes to play junior for the Shamrocks next summer. He has played field about six years, with both the Mid Island Thunder and Claremont Secondary.
“In box season, I think I love box more,” he said. “But when it’s field season, I love field. I just love the sport.”