It’s been a while since Riley Lawryk donned his first Williams Lake Bighorns lacrosse jersey.
That was seven years ago — Riley was nine years old — and the Bighorns were a fledgling organization just beginning to bud in the lakecity. Lawryk was among the first to join the city’s initial roster of lacrosse players.
Last month Lawryk, now 16, achieved another lacrosse first for Williams Lake. He became the first lacrosse player from the Cariboo to be recognized by the BC Lacrosse Association as Player of the Year. Normally, the award is presented to a player from either Vancouver Island or the Lower Mainland.
For his efforts he was awarded a $1,000 Subway Lacrosse Player of the Year scholarship after competing at the BC Lacrosse Provincial Championships held in Port Coquitlam early July as a member of the Bighorns’ midget squad.
Riley said he decided to take up the sport after watching his step brother play.
“I watched a couple of his games and it looked pretty cool, so I wanted to play,” he said. “It was interesting to me because it’s played up in the air instead of on the ground [like hockey] and the speed of the game is good.”
In the winter he also plays hockey; however, as a goalie — a change of pace from playing forward during the lacrosse year.
“Lacrosse goalie seemed way too hard,” he joked when asked why he switched positions for lacrosse. “And it seemed pretty scary, too.”
He added it means a lot to be the first player from the zone chosen for the award.
“It’s pretty good,” he said. “I was pretty excited.”
The Subway lacrosse player of the year scholarship is initially awarded to one player from each of the eight provincial zones. Riley was the Zone 8 player of the year, prior to being presented the overall player of the year.
The award is based on lacrosse achievements, giving back to the sport, coaching, refereeing, enthusiasm and academics.
He also plans to continue to stay involved in lacrosse in Williams Lake and hopes to coach, along with Bighorns teammate and friend Benn Taylor, the city’s novice team next season. He said if there’s enough interest he hopes to help start a senior lacrosse team, too.