Over the course of the last few years, South Surrey lacrosse player Jacob Dunbar has had plenty of memorable moments.
He was drafted in the first round, sixth overall, by the Port Coquitlam Saints in B.C. Junior ‘A’ Lacrosse League draft in January 2018 – one of a half-dozen Semiahmoo Peninsula players chosen that year – and not only did he soon reach his goal of stepping onto the floor at the junior ‘A’ level, he led the Saints in scoring this past season, with 27 goals and 59 points in 18 games played.
And next month, he will cross an even bigger goal off his athletic ‘to-do’ list when he pulls on a red-and-white Team Canada jersey and represents his country on the international stage.
Earlier this month, Dunbar, 18, was one of the first eight players selected to be part of Canada’s squad at 2019 International Indoor Junior Lacrosse (IIJL) World Junior Championship, which is scheduled for Aug. 6-11 in Mississauga, Ont.
“I’ve never played for Canada before, so it was a really cool moment when I found out,” said Dunbar, who received the good news via email.
“I’m really honoured and pretty excited to be on Team Canada.”
In order to make the cut, Dunbar first attended a regional combine, at which coaches and Canadian Lacrosse League staff whittled down the invitees to 40. From there, the number was cut down to the final eight players, which included Dunbar and two other B.C. players – Mitchell Sandberg from the BCJALL’s Delta Islanders, and Aidan Danby, who plays for the South Okanagan Flames of the Thompson-Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League.
The final 15 players are to be announced Monday.
Dunbar, who graduated from Elgin Park Secondary this past spring, answered “yes and no” when asked if he was surprised to have made the early cut of eight.
“The head coach, he was talking to me a lot (at the combine), so I thought I had a chance at it,” he explained.
Before joining the Poco Saints junior program, Dunbar grew up playing in the Semiahmoo Rock association. He first took up the sport at five years old, following in the footsteps of his older brother, Jordan – who also played junior ‘A’ with the Saints – and his dad, Scott, who was a longtime lacrosse player and won a Minto Cup national championship with the Esquimalt Legion in 1988, playing alongside the famous Gait brothers of Canadian lacrosse fame.
“My dad played all his life, and he put my brother in lacrosse so I just followed him and all his friends into the sport, too,” said Dunbar, who also played rep hockey with Semiahmoo Minor Hockey before giving up the sport at the bantam level in order to focus solely on lacrosse.
“I picked up a stick and couldn’t drop it.”
Having made a successful adjustment from youth lacrosse to junior last year, Dunbar was hoping for another smooth transition as he moves to the international level. The speed of the game, he said, will be the biggest adjustment.
“I know it’ll be a pretty big jump (in competition) because it’s teams from all over the world, and I’ll be playing with guys who are really good players, but I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
The Canadian squad will have a three-day training camp prior to the start of the tournament, which Dunbar, who plays offence, said should be enough time to mesh together as a unit.
“We are going to do some team-bonding stuff, and have some practices, so you really get to know everybody,” he said.
“And when you’ve got so many high-calibre players, everyone picks it up pretty fast. We’ll figure out how everyone plays – whether guys are cutters or shooters – pretty quickly, I think.
“I’m pretty fired up for it.”