Lacrosse the universe with Riley Wanzer

WEB-Riley wazner-Vaikunthe Banerjee

Riley Wanzer of the SFU lacrosse team discusses his life as a non-varsity student-athlete

By Clay J. Gray
Photos by Vaikunthe Banerjee

Lacrosse, for those of you that don’t know it is Canada’s national sport. However, that doesn’t mean it is a varsity sport here at SFU. Yet, that doesn’t stop Riley Wanzer, third-year environmental geography major, from donning his helmet, the number three, and taking the field virtually every day.

Like the varsity athletes at SFU, Wanzer and his teammates train once or twice a day, every- day; with field time practically restricted to hours when the sun hasn’t even peeked over the ho- rizon or in the last remaining hours of daylight.

Unlike varsity sports here at SFU, Lacrosse athletes pay around $4,000 a year for the privilege to play. Wanzer said, “It takes a lot of money, it’s one of the things that keeps people from joining. Varsity athletes are at least getting some support from the school, whereas we have to pay extra to play for SFU.”

Yet, the fact that Lacrosse isn’t a varsity team at SFU doesn’t prevent them from being one of the most close knit-teams at the school. Although the players all share in the common expe- rience of balancing school, ath- letics, and other commitments, which creates a mutual respect and friendship. Wanzer pointed towards the team’s general man- ager as the central figure in turn- ing the team into a family.

Riley said, “Our coach’s mom and general manager, Marilyn Hoskins, comes on all of our road trips and cooks us all of our food, every single meal. On Thursdays, we go over to her house and she cooks a meal for all of the guys who aren’t from the lower-mainland.”

Wanzer was aware that SFU lacrosse was a club team before he came and cited the team’s club status as a positive factor in his decision in which school to attend. “Several schools re- cruited me, ranging from Divi- sion I to Division III. One thing I realized was how much more time Lacrosse requires as a var- sity athlete, so, playing for a club team allows me to have a little more free time.”

But, Riley’s life isn’t just about Lacrosse. “I’ve got a season pass to Whistler, so I try to jump up there to go boarding whenever I can. I also Mountain bike, I bring my bike up with me on the bus and then ride down; its one of the perks of going to school on a mountain.” So a school on top of a mountain in the centre of the outdoor sport world was the best fit and obvious choice for this active-outdoorsman.

The stories Wanzer shared about his adolescent years re- volved around working at his family’s business, all of which might sound like it would make for a boring childhood, except for the fact that it was a go-kart track. “When I was in first grade, my parents opened the track with high-speed go-karts that they imported from Europe. Growing up around a go-kart track, there was nothing better than that, it was so much fun at all time,” he reminisced. “I re- member sitting in my dad’s lap and driving before my feet could even reach the pedals.”

Of course, the team makes sure to stop by the track once a year to blow off some steam after one of their road games. “We spend an afternoon rip- ping around the track, the whole team tries to beat me, but no one has yet,” bragged Wanzer.

School is also an impor- tant part of Riley’s life and once again, SFU’s mountaintop location plays a central role. “Being a geography major, I love the location. You look out your classroom and you can see ev- erything, it’s awesome,” he ex- plained. “Even though it can get a little grim during the winter, when all you see is grey clouds and grey concrete, I love SFU.”

When asked what his favou- rite class was, Wanzer said, “My favourite class has been ‘intro to GIS,’ Geography 225. It was cool learning how all the systems worked together.”

However, even with all of Ri- ley’s interests, he said, “I’m still searching for what I want to do. I wouldn’t mind playing La- crosse professionally, but with the average professional player salary being around $35,000 [at best] I don’t think it is the right choice for me. Ideally I would like to have a job that places me in the field, not behind a desk.”

Riley Wanzer is just one of many club athletes that work hard in their sport on and off the field, and still has the life of any SFU student. His dedication and hard work are reflective of the perennial powerhouse that is SFU lacrosse.

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