North Grenville produces no shortage of great athletes, and their achievements just keep growing. Lacrosse player Zack Chevalier is the latest local athlete to catch the attention of team professionals far and wide, having recently been picked to represent Team Ontario in U17 field lacrosse. He is just 15 years old, and lives in Burritts Rapids.
Zack took up a serious interest in lacrosse in 2018 when his family moved to Regina, SK. Wanting to try something other than the usual soccer, he signed up for field lacrosse, and “immediately fell in love with the sport”. He credits his first coach, Joe Laprairie, as being “a very passionate coach and a very good teacher” which is one of the reasons why his interest in lacrosse took off.
“I love playing lacrosse for many reasons,” said Zack. “It’s a team sport, it allows me to spend a lot of energy, and it’s a sport where we need as much agility as physical strength. I must also admit that it can be violent on occasion and I like it!”
Like most notable players, Zack spends much of his free time practicing his sport. “I play lacrosse year-round in leagues and tournaments and spend the majority of my spare time dedicated to my development,” he added. “You can always find me in my backyard practicing lacrosse, or at the gym when I don’t have practices or games.”
Hard work pays off, and for Zack, it has paid off big time. He was selected to represent Team Ontario U17 in the field lacrosse Canadian championships next September in Charlottetown, in addition to two more tournaments this fall in the USA, one in Maryland, and one in Florida.
After an American lacrosse official sent some video footage of Zack playing to a contact in New York, Zack was contacted by the Long Island National Rebels to represent them at several American tournaments. “I immediately accepted, because it allows me to learn a new way of playing since American teams play a different type of game,” said Zack. “The fact of playing for Team Ontario and Long Island will allow me, hopefully, to be seen by prep schools and American universities. I would really like to play at the NCAA level.”
Being dedicated to a sport comes with challenges, as expected. One such challenge for Zack and his family is driving long distances for practices and tournaments. Practices with Team Ontario mean a 3 or 4 hour drive, while games with the Long Island team require a drive of between 3 and 8 hours. It’s not easy to frequently be on the road for practices, games and tournaments. Some tournaments, such as those in Florida or Texas, may require air travel. It’s a sacrifice for Zack’s family, but one that they are more than willing to make.
When it comes to being a dedicated athlete, the rewards outweigh the challenges. “It was a very nice surprise when I received the call that I was part of Team Ontario,” said Zack. “I am very proud of this achievement. I’m the only player not from the GTA. Lacrosse players are a big family and despite the fact that I am the only one from the region playing for both U17 Team Ontario field and the Long Island National Rebels, I felt accepted from the start and made new friends quickly.”
As is often the case, the heart and spirit of the North Grenville community lends a hand in Zack’s sports career. Moving to the area just three years ago, Zack has already found that his school and his employer support him in his adventures. Zack attends St. Michael Catholic High School, where the principal, Mr. Palumbo, was very understanding upon learning that Zack will sometimes need to miss classes to travel to the USA. Zack’s teachers also help him at lunch time to catch up on lessons missed during the school year. His employer also provides the benefit of a flexible work schedule.
Zack had a few words to share for anyone with interest in a sport: “My advice to all athletes playing sports, regardless of level, is to believe in yourself. I’ve been cut from a competitive team in the past and been told that I was too small. I told myself that no one would tell me what I can or cannot do. I used these comments to motivate me and work even harder. I believed in myself and in my abilities and I am having a lot of great experiences right now and I hope to have many more!”
Anyone interested in learning more about Zack, or helping to sponsor his journeys to practices and tournaments in support of his big dreams and promising lacrosse career, can contact the family directly at [email protected].