It isn’t often that a text message becomes a life changer, but for men’s lacrosse player Ryan Wagner, he won’t soon forget the words that popped up on his phone on Sept. 27.
On the day of the 2015 National Lacrosse League draft, Wagner received a message sent by Doug Locker, the general manager of the professional box lacrosse team Vancouver Stealth, informing him of his selection as the 42nd overall pick.
“Five minutes before, I got a text from him saying, ‘Welcome aboard’,’” Wagner said.
Vancouver’s head scout Pat McCready first spotted Wagner’s talent in the summer, where he was playing box lacrosse with the St. Catherines Athletics Jr. A team. McCready serves an assistant for the Athletics during the summer months.
However, Wagner played the majority of his junior career with the Jr. B Niagara Thunderhawks.
“With only a few players drafted from the Jr. B ranks, it’s definitely rewarding,” Wagner said.
The step between the junior ranks and professional will be a big one, but Wagner said he’s confident in his abilities.
“The transition’s going to be tough,” he said. “But, they saw something in me they liked.”
Wagner wasn’t expecting to play lacrosse at Queen’s, but when he arrived in 2012, he decided he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to join the roster after meeting a few Queen’s teammates who convinced him to join.
“I love playing with the guys,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Wagner’s registered five goals and three assists through seven games this season.
While Wagner has been playing field lacrosse the past four seasons at Queen’s, the box variety of the sport is his preference, as he has been playing since age five. Wagner first played field lacrosse in his final year of high school.
“It’s a much quicker, more physical game,” Wagner said of box lacrosse.
Despite being professional athletes, even the best lacrosse players typically work a weekly job, as the salaries aren’t comparable to most other major sports. Currently studying in the Queen’s mining engineering program, Wagner said it might be tough to pursue work in his field while still playing lacrosse, but he’s optimistic about his chances.
“If it works together, that’d be great,” Wagner said. “Hopefully being out west I’ll make some west coast mining contacts.”
Wagner played as a transition player for his junior career, while playing in the midfield with Queen’s. However, the Stealth drafted Wagner with the intention of converting him to a defender, as he feels that his ability to defend and pick up loose balls are two of his biggest strengths.
Wagner will head out to training camp in British Columbia during weekends in November, while the season starts in January.
“If I can crack a spot on the roster, that’d be unbelievable,” he said.
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