Moving from hockey to lacrosse was sudden for Sylvan Lake’s Walker Stevenson, but it has paid off in a big way.
Recently the lacrosse player was signed to play with the Calgary Jr. Roughnecks.
The achievement comes after only three years of playing the game, last season serving as captain for the Red Deer team.
Even in his first year playing, Stevenson was named captain of the Sylvan Lake Buccaneers.
The switch from hockey to lacrosse came from the urging of his friends, Stevenson said.
“They all told me I should play lacrosse because I’m big and strong. So, I came home that day and told my parents I wanted to play lacrosse,” Stevenson, 16, said in a recent interview.
Stevenson said he was always interested in trying new sports and lacrosse seemed like an interesting one to try, though admits he knew almost nothing about the game.
His mother, Jody Stevenson, said it wasn’t a surprise that he wanted to try a new sport as he has always been the type of person to take on new challenges.
“We always knew he would try new things, I wasn’t expecting it to be a full contact sport, but that’s OK because I know he plays with his head up,” explained Jody, adding lacrosse seemed to come out of left field.
Stevenson tried out for the junior team back in June after receiving an email with the information.
He says before receiving that email he hadn’t known about the Junior Roughnecks, but thought he would give it a try in the hopes of moving his lacrosse career forward.
When he finally made it to the try-outs he was both nervous and surprised by experience.
“It was a very different kind of try-out. I felt they tested your mind more then just your body,” he said.
The nerves also came when he took in his competition which he noted was steep as he knew there were players there who were trying out who had more experience then him.
A few weeks after the try-out, Steven received the email with the good news.
“Holy crap,” was the first thing that came to mind as he read over the email inviting him onto the team.
“I was really excited, I couldn’t really believe it,” Stevenson said.
“It is so exciting to see how far he has come in such a short amount of time,” said Jody.
Stevenson has been practising with the Junior Roughnecks for a couple weeks now, preparing for the National Lacrosse League tournament in Oakville, Ont.
Practises so far have been very different for Stevenson, almost like a continuation of the try-outs in June.
“It challenges your mind a lot. They are really driving home the idea to think about what you are doing before acting,” Stevenson explained.
The National Lacrosse League tournament will be the highest level of completion Stevenson has played in. He will be facing teams from all across the country.
Previously, Stevenson says he has really only played against teams from Alberta and some from British Columbia.
He is nervous about playing at such a high level of competition.
“I’m very nervous, but I think it will be a great experience,” said Stevenson.
Looking forward, Stevenson hopes to continue growing his career as a lacrosse player.
After high school he plans to attend a NCAA university while obtaining a business degree. He plans to open a business after his lacrosse career has come to an end.
“You can’t depend on being a competitive athlete all your life. It is good to have something to fall back on,” he explained.
His plan is to go as far as he can as a lacrosse player, and has his sights set on one day being a professional player.
Team members of the Junior Roughnecks were honoured in Calgary at a White Hat Ceremony, which is done for all athletes who represent Calgary on a national and international stage.
“We are so unbelievably proud of him,” said Jody.