Owen Dew’s summer vacation ends almost as soon as he gets back from the Canadian Lacrosse Association Junior B Box Championships in Winnipeg this week.
The 17-year-old Glendale High School grad will be leaving for South Carolina where he will be play NCAA Division 2 lacrosse at Limestone College, enrolled in a four-year Bachelor program majoring in sports management.
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In 2018, Dew was selected by Six Nations Arrows in the first round, 9th overall of the Ontario Junior A Entry Draft – the highest box lacrosse goalie selected. He signed with the Arrows for his first year of Junior A, but saw limited game time as a rookie goalie backing up a fifth-year veteran.
“I played a little bit last year, but being a younger guy they went with the older goalie so I didn’t really get too much playing time. They wanted me to get the development. I got practices and I think maybe 20 minutes of actual game.
“It’s a five-year junior program, 16-21, so even being on the team and getting a roster spot at 16 was good enough, there was nothing wrong with a backup role. I just wanted to put in the grind, ride that out. A lot of guys do what I did this season, they do Junior B then go back.”
Dew’s prospects had not changed in 2019 when the team brought in another 19-year-old veteran goalie.
“Most teams do that,” he noted.
So to get more game time, Dew was part of a multi-player transfer being sent to the Seneca WarChiefs in Cattaraugus, New York, to play in the First Nations Junior B Lacrosse League with teams from the US and Canada.
“It was between another Six Nations Junior B team, or the WarChiefs,” said Dew. “It wasn’t like an official trade.”
As a goalie, he had developed while practicing with the Junior A team, but game situations – dealing with nerves and pressure situations – are different, and playing Junior B this season was beneficial.
“This year I had to deal with that a little bit and pulled out some tight games. So in the mental aspect, I developed a lot.”
One of the biggest changes might have been his travel time – three hours to practice and games, multiple times every week during the season, with road games as far as Cornwall.
“Practice from 8-10, then three-and-a-half hours home,” he smiled.
The WarChiefs finished an undefeated 2019 season, and won their 6th First Nations Junior B Championship. With that came a berth at the Founders Cup (Canadian Lacrosse Association Junior B Box Championship) in Winnipeg, August 13-19, with teams from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, First Nations and Quebec. All games will be live streamed via webcast.
The WarChiefs have been to the Founders Cup five times, winning three silvers and two bronze, but it will be Dew’s first trip.
“It sounds a little weird – going to the Canadian Nationals – because we’re a team from New York. Our league is a First Nations league and we’re a member of the CLA even though the league is mostly in the States.
“Some of the guys, the 21-year-olds, they have a shelf full of silver and bronze medals… they’re in their last year and they want it to be their year.”
The WarChiefs have three goalies including Dew, who split most of the season with one of the other goalies.
“That team’s mainly about development. Everybody has the talent, it’s just mixing everybody up together and really growing as a team. So we kind of split roles.”
At the championship, Dew said it will come down to whoever is ‘hot’, and their different styles.
“It depends on the shooters of the other teams and whoever matches up best against them.”
Dew’s Ontario Junior A playing rights were traded at the deadline to the Mimico Mountaineers, where he hopes to earn a roster spot in 2020 with a season that starts after field lacrosse ends.
In field lacrosse (outdoor), Dew has had success playing different positions – transition (midfield) and defence.
The 17-year-old Ontario Scholar received athletic and academic scholarships to attend Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina this fall where he will major in Sports Management, a four-year Bachelor program.
Glendale High School’s Guidance Department and teachers provided valuable support to help him successfully meet the challenging US college and SAT testing requirements, and he was grateful for that support.
“I got a really good offer (from Limestone College), it was an offer I couldn’t really turn down. I had kind of narrowed it down to about 10 schools I was serious about and contacted them. A few didn’t respond, a few I met the coaches and I just wasn’t too enthusiastic about, and I kept narrowing it down until I was at three schools. In February, right after exams, we planned a trip to go down to all three of them, spend a night on campus, get a tour, look at the facilities and watch them play.”
It turned out to be a two-school visit.
“I based my decision off my visit and how my next four years would go for me, being with those guys and those coaches, and all of the program choices. That was a big thing too. When I was contacting schools I had one specific program that I wanted to be in, and if the school didn’t have that, I didn’t contact them because I’m focused on academics too.
“Education has always kind of a priority – it’s hard getting home late, but I always made sure to get to class after late-night practices. You get used to it. Going to a good school and getting a good education has always been a priority… for longer than lacrosse has. Maybe five years ago one of my coaches talked about scholarships and got my whole team looking into that, so that’s kind of where that fire got lit. But sports never overcame the education side of it.”
Dew did apply to three Canadian schools, and was accepted at each. But the scholarship route was even more appealing.
“My last two choices were a perfect balance of academics and athletics. I think it (Limestone) was a better offer and I just kind of liked the atmosphere better. They had a great atmosphere to be around. When I was walking around with the team on campus, people knew who the lacrosse team was… that was really cool. Even the sport program in general, all the athletes knew each other and had a bond that I wanted to be part of. It was really interesting to see, at a school like that, all the students interacting with each other.”
The moment he signed for the scholarship, that was when he knew the long hours on the road, the studying and school work, were all worthwhile.
“It was really hectic there for a while. Once I accepted, and signed, it was a huge weight off my chest. I realized I had been putting in a ton of effort, and not really getting much back the last few years, but I kind of got it all back at once, and that was just a great feeling to know that it all paid off in the end.”
Limestone Saints men’s field lacrosse team, playing in the NCAA D2 Carolinas Conference, have won the US National Championship five times in the past, going undefeated last season. Their only loss was in the National Championship and they are currently nationally ranked No. 1 going into the 2020 season.
“Gaffney’s not a huge place. I wasn’t really looking for a huge size – or too small. It was really just kind of a ‘home’ feeling. I didn’t really want to go to a big inner city school and I didn’t want to go to a school in the middle of nowhere, either. The town’s a great size. The whole town goes out to watch the games.”
Although he played multiple sports in Tillsonburg, he won’t be playing football in Gaffney.
“Football’s done,” he smiled. “I miss that a lot. It was a great four years. Hockey, I remember it but I stopped a long time ago. It was great when I was a kid but I just decided I like lacrosse a lot more and I wanted to pursue that seriously. I think quitting hockey paid off in the end, it was one of those things…
“Football was a great experience, a great way to get through four years of high school. It always gave you something to look forward to in football.”