Okotoks rookie summits Mountaineers
Lacrosse: Ryan McLean cracks Calgary Jr. A roster
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 06:00 am
An Okotoks rookie finds himself on the other side of one of lacrosse’s fiercest rivalries.
Foothills Composite student Ryan McLean has landed one of three coveted rookie spots on the Calgary Jr. A Mountaineers where he matched up against his hometown club and classmate in Okotoks Raiders rookie Colton Bymak on May 14.
“It’s really weird because I’ve played with him my whole life so I kind of know how he plays and it adds an extra grit (level) to it when I go against him one on one,” said McLean. “Today (Wednesday) at school we were talking like ‘hey we’re going to go.’”
“There’s rivalry of the teams and rivalry of me against guys that I know that add an extra level to it.”
Such is life in the Alberta Junior A League where friendships are put aside on the floor.
A welcome sensation for the first-year prospect.
McLean’s direct trajectory from draft pick to regular out of the back gate is a rare feat in lacrosse where midget graduates often ply their trade in the Junior B ranks prior to making the jump.
As the Mountaineers’ second round pick in the 2014 draft, McLean was far from assured a spot on the veteran-laden Calgary roster.
“I just went as hard as I could every day and stuck to fundamentals,” McLean said. “I was fairly solid defensively.”
He enjoyed a couple advantages going for him through training camp and exhibition.
In lacrosse, or any sport for that matter, you can’t teach size and McLean tipping the scales at six-foot-three and 220 pounds hasn’t hurt his cause.
“Size, that’s a great asset in our league and in lacrosse in general,” said Mounties head coach Rick Windl. “His stick skills are pretty strong and he seems to have a pretty good idea of what he needs to do in the game.”
The Grade 11 student at Foothills Composite High School has proven himself a quick study.
“He’s picked everything up really well,” Windl added. “There was progression in the training camp from Feb. 10 until we made the team, we just saw him getting stronger and a little more understanding of the systems.”
Calgary’s coaching staff is taking the rookie’s development in stride with a crawl, walk, then run approach as a strictly defensive player at the outset.
“That’s where we told him we would start him off with, it keeps things simple for him,” Windl said. “To start off with the back gate and then work him into transition as the year progresses. Right now we just want to keep it one thing at a time, you don’t want to overwhelm a young guy like that and discourage his growth.”
Far from discouraged with his allotment, McLean is grateful for the opportunity and for the chance to ascend the depth chart for the purple-clad Mounties.
“Hopefully I’ll keep locking it down defensively and eventually move up to transition and get some offensive shifts going,” McLean said.
“It’s really exciting to get lots of playing time right away.”
After getting over the initial shock of the Junior game in his debut versus the Sherwood Park Titans, the big-bodied righty was noticeably more comfortable in game two.
His coach took notice.
“He’s only getting better,” Windl said. “He’s already shown a great improvement from game one to game two.
“We’re just hoping he can become a last minute D-guy, a guy that’s dependable on the short man and a guy that’s dependable to transition the ball eventually, a guy we’re comfortable throwing out in any situation on the back-end.”