ST. LEO, Fla. – Saint Leo University lacrosse captain Jake Gilmour decided before his freshman season that bigger isn’t always better, and it has paid off for the Pickering, Ont. native.
Gilmour chose the Lions over other, higher profile Division I schools like Rutgers that had been recruiting him, a decision that surprised even himself.
“I was pretty set on playing Division I somewhere. A lot of the guys I was playing with were going and I felt I had the talent and caliber of lacrosse to play there,” he said Thursday at University Turf Stadium.
“But after sitting down with my mom and dad we decided that I’d want to play and if they were going to spend the money to come down, they wanted to see me play. I wanted to be a help to the team right away.”
Cue former assistant coach Nick Cotter, who offered Gilmour the chance at immediate playing time, provided he worked for it.
“Coach Cotter said, ‘I’m not going to recruit you down here to sit you on the bench,’ He said, ‘You’re going to have to earn it,’ and I battled for that spot freshman year and kept it until now,” Gilmour said.
Taking the opportunity and sprinting with it, he finished second on the team with 42 points and was named to the Sunshine State Conference Freshman Team.
Gilmour hasn’t looked back and is now the school record-holder in several offensive categories, including points and assists, with more than half of his senior season still remaining.
“I’ve never regretted it for a second and as you can see it’s a beautiful place,” he said. “I’ve talked to hundreds of people in the lacrosse community about it and I’m happy here.”
Lacrosse is a sport that allows for players in Divisions II and III to be drafted more often than others, such as football and basketball, making the college decision that much more important.
There are several professional success stories of players who did not play Division I, including former Division III players Mike Stone and Kyle Hartzell, both of whom are Major League Lacrosse champions and have made multiple All-Star teams.
“Division I, II, or III wherever the best fit is, that’s where you’ve got to go,” Gilmour said. “I felt this was definitely it for me.”