Kyle Crane is a young man with a big decision to make.
The 18-year-old graduate of Woburn Collegiate has received attention from an American college for his lacrosse skills, and he, as with hundreds like him across the country, will have to decide if he will travel the distance to study and play.
Crane is mostly thinking about what he calls the worst case scenario.
“Not liking it and then being stuck all the way out in Michigan and having to stay there,” he says.
Considering all the dramatic changes that may lie ahead, Crane notes perhaps the most challenging will be adjustments to his game.
“They don’t play as physically as we do [in Canada] so Ive got to stop hitting as much,” he says.
Crane, who’s been playing box and field lacrosse for the Newmarket Saints the last two years, has received attention from Davenport University, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While he doesn’t know the specifics of their intentions he has been formally invited to visit the school and go for a practice with the club.
Bob Clarkson, head coach of the Panthers, understands the issues involved in uprooting across borders for school because currently three of his players are from Ontario.
“If you’re from Toronto being six or seven hours from home is a concern for both kids and parents,” Clarkson says.
Another hurdle Clarkson recognizes is that average yearly tuition for Canadian universities is $5,000, whereas at Davenport it’s $10-12,000.
“For a private school we’re pretty competitively priced and we actually fall in the bottom 25 percentile in the States for tuition fees,” Clarkson says, adding a positive consideration is that average class sizes are 16-17 students.
There are also dozens of competitor colleges within a two-hour drive, and “even though we’re only one year old we already have competitive rivalries.”
Crane will find pressure, the coach says, especially with maintaining academic levels necessary to keep a player eligible. But that is healthy pressure.
“If a student doesn’t do well they don’t play, and we keep that pressure on them whether they’re Canadian or not.”
However, Thandiwe Vela, a third year UTSC student who is currently on the Varsity Blues track team as a jumper and sprinter, has seen a different type of pressure emerge.
Vela’s older sister, Grace, received a full-ride scholarship to the University of Washington for track and field, but experienced extreme physical stress from the heavy workouts while there.
For someone who has been talented since the beginning stages of high school, winning a gold medal for triple jump at the provincial meet, Vela could probably have had her pick of American full ride scholarships.
However, Vela chose to take a different route than her sister and attend an Ontario university.
“It’s not that I don’t want to work hard and I don’t take track seriously, I just don’t want to deal with the amount of pressure in the States,” Vela says.
Crane admits he had previously considered attending Carleton because of their lacrosse team, but says the important motivation in considering Davenport is the fact Ontario schools simply don’t have good lacrosse teams.
The prospect of small class sizes is also welcomed by Crane, who states his interest in their sports management classes.
“I think I’d like it, and there would be more of a teacher student relationship.”