By Martin Cleary
When the 2018 world (field) lacrosse championships were staged in Netanya, Israel, Cam Wyers was developing his box lacrosse game with the Ontario junior A Toronto Beaches and junior B Gloucester Griffins teams.
“There wasn’t a thought in my mind that I would (one day) play in the worlds,” Wyers said about a dream that seemed so far away.
Four years later, a friend asked Wyers if he had a shot at making the Canadian team for last month’s 2023 worlds in San Diego.
Wyers was skeptical, but knew his name was in the mix, having attended a national team tryout camp in 2020. But he also had to miss a 2022 tryout session because he was recovering from patella tendon knee surgery.
What was in Wyers’ favour was the strong resume he had created while playing field lacrosse for the Loyola University Maryland Greyhounds from 2019-23.
During his five seasons with the Greyhounds, Wyers, 23, was a standout close defender and earned All-American honours three times from the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association. At 6-5 and 220 pounds, Wyers was recognized as one of the top one-on-one defenders in the nation. The multiple Patriot League all-star started all 69 games he played in his Greyhounds career and his 79 caused turnovers ranked fifth in team history.
During the 2022 National Lacrosse League amateur player draft, Wyers was selected 13th overall in the first round and the No. 1 pick of the Buffalo Bandits, which won their fifth league title in 2023.
When Lacrosse Canada announced its 2023 world team, Wyers learned he had made the grade, played significant minutes in his debut and helped the national team win the silver medal in the 30-country competition.
“I didn’t expect to go,” he admitted. “But I did a good job in my leadership role with Loyola the last four years on the field and in the dressing room. I play a physical game and try to make my presence known by putting my shoulder into somebody.”
He called wearing the Canadian team jersey a “really cool” experience.
“It’s great being together with all the guys from different parts of Canada and with different backgrounds,” said Wyers, who will complete his MBA program beginning in August. He earned his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at Loyola.
“Some guys have played in three world championships. It’s a surreal experience. These guys have so much experience and knowledge. That made it easier for me to settle in. It was a great group of guys and I enjoyed representing Canada.”
Canada’s only two losses were to the United States – 7-5 in the championships’ opening game June 21 and 10-7 in the gold-medal final on Canada Day.
The path to the final saw Canada defeat Australia 10-3, Haudenosaunee 8-7 and England 11-4 in its pool matches as well as Jamaica 20-1 in the quarterfinals and Haudenosaunee 12-7 in the semifinals.
“It was one of those games,” Wyers said, referring to the gold-medal match. “The U.S. had an answer for almost everything we did. They didn’t make it easy for us. Credit to the U.S. for a great game. But no one on our team gave up. It didn’t go our way.”
Canada was playing the U.S. for the sixth straight time in the championship game and looking for its fourth gold medal, after wins in 2014, 2006 and 1978.
Even though the gold-medal loss gave Canada the silver medal, it was the wrong colour for Wyers.
“No one likes to say they have silver,” he lamented. “I’d be much happier with gold around my neck than silver. But everyone worked as hard as they could for the gold.”
Wyers, who played his minor lacrosse in the Nepean system before graduating to junior B with Nepean and Gloucester and junior A with Peterborough and Toronto Beaches, wasn’t sure how much playing time he would receive as a national team rookie.
“I got a good amount of field time and played alongside some great guys,” he explained. “I was surprised how much field time I had. Once I’d get in the game, I had fresh legs.”
As a long-stick defender, Wyers played about half of the gold-medal game, sharing his position with Ryland Rees of Port Coquitlam, B.C.
Wyers will now focus his lacrosse attention on playing for the Archers in the eight-team, U.S.-based Premier Lacrosse League.
In October, he’ll attend the Buffalo Bandits’ training camp and strive for a position on the 2023-24 team.
“I’m really excited about being drafted by Buffalo,” Wyers said. “They have an unbelievable fan base. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the team.
“I’ve talked to my teammates and they’ve let me know how to handle the ropes at the Buffalo camp.”
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.
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