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Chilly Willy hits road en route to highest level

There’s nothing chilly or willy about these kids. But they are certainly chill on both turf and floor. They are young, but on the definite fast track to U.S.
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Members of the Chilly Willy Lacrosse team, with head coach Brian Spaven fourth from left at the back.

 

There’s nothing chilly or willy about these kids. But they are certainly chill on both turf and floor. They are young, but on the definite fast track to U.S. collegiate NCAA athletic scholarships in field lacrosse and the NLL pro game in the box version of the sport.

Chilly Willy Lacrosse is an Island-based elite travelling team, comprised of players throughout the province, and their next trip is to the U.S. Box Lacrosse Nationals next weekend in San Jose, California.

“These are the kids you are going to see in four years who will be freshmen in the NCAA and playing Junior ‘A’ in box lacrosse with an eye to the NLL and WLA,” said Chilly Willy head coach Brian Spaven of Victoria.

Spaven is a veteran mentor whose career has spanned guiding the B.C. team, led by superstar Victoria twins Gary and Paul Gait, to gold at the 1985 Canada Summer Games to coaching the Island team to the gold medal last weekend at the 2016 B.C. Summer Games in Abbotsford.

Chilly Willy is comprised of seven players from Juan de Fuca — Logan Wright, Evan Law, Riley Hawes, Jake Obee, Brodie Wade, Isaac Swan and goaltender Adam Bland — along with four players from Coquitlam, and two each from New Westminster, Delta, Mission and Kamloops.

The waiting list to get on the team is 85 players.

The players play against each other in club, with Spaven’s Juan de Fuca Whalers the back-to-back B.C. Bantam ‘A’ champions. Then, the best of them unite in common cause on the Chilly Willy travel team.

“It’s really neat,” Spaven said.

“They bang on each other as opponents in league play and provincial playdowns, and then they are friends and teammates on Chilly Willy. They have all bonded as a group because they have a common aspiration — they eventually want to take their careers to the elite level.

“They are the best of the best of this age class in B.C. This is a great group of players who want to take it to the next level and have the discipline and attitude to get there. And we demand accountability from them.”

Spaven plans to keep coaching Chilly Willy and move up with these players through Midget.

“Next year, we will take them to identification camps in Denver and the eastern U.S.,” he said.

Chilly Willy, managed by Bill Bland of Victoria and Mark Sheridan of Coquitlam, has won two of the Bantam field-lacrosse tournaments it participated in this season in the United States. In the third one, Chilly Willy came second to the powerhouse Denver Elites team when moving up to play in the 15-16 age class in the big Las Vegas field-lacrosse tournament.

The U.S. Nationals, meanwhile, is the largest youth box lacrosse tournament in the United States. Chilly Willy will be joined Friday to next Sunday in San Jose by other travel teams from B.C. and Ontario, and from California, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Minnesota, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com