This article originally ran Jan. 20, 2017.
Editor’s Note: This article originally ran Jan. 20, 2017 and the title has been trimmed. Due to the pandemic, we are tapping into our archives more for arts and sports. This section will return to its regular schedule when the crisis concludes with Alberta reaching Phase 3 of its relaunch.
By Mitch Goldenberg
Doug Tokar can list more than a few times when he saw his son, Michael, knocked off his feet on the lacrosse field.
“He’s 5’8 and 140 pounds playing Junior A, so he’s always thrown around and beaten up. I remember once in a Junior B game he was shoved five-feet after he took a shot; I didn’t think he would get up,” Doug said. “But he got up and scored right on that power play. He never got scared, never backed down and always came back.”
Michael has been flying around the lacrosse field since the age of four — both on his feet and off of them. Now, the 17-year-old scorer is set to reap the benefits of a dozen years of punishment from minor lacrosse opponents.
This weekend, Michael will move to West Virginia and start school at Davis and Elkins College. The Spruce Grove native received a scholarship to play NCAA Division II lacrosse for the Senators.
“It’s a really small school and I’m a bit nervous coming in halfway through the year, but I’m so happy to continue following my passion and excited to play in a different country,” Michael said. “I’ve always been a small guy in sports, so I’ve had to keep my speed up, develop quick decision-making and try not to get injured.”
Doug grew up playing competitive minor and senior lacrosse in Edmonton as a defensive defenceman. He drew his son to the field, but Michael was gifted with terrific offensive instincts that the Senators hope will fuel their offence.
“I’m not just out there to make myself look good, I’m a playmaker, so I’m usually looking for somebody to set up,” Michael said. “Quick thinking and speed is how I get by, and when I get pushed down, it doesn’t bother me. There will be another time that I get to make the other person disappointed for what they did.”
Michael played for the Parkland Posse lacrosse club in their early years. He was part of the first local team to make it to provincials when
he was a peewee. Doug, the coach of that team, recalls Michael passing on clear shots on goal that year and opting to pass.
“I remember asking him ‘why don’t you shoot more,’ ” Doug said. “He told me that he wanted the team to be better. He said if his friends got better, the team could play as a whole. His motivation was his friends, and that made me a proud dad.”
Michael went on to continue playing lacrosse for the Edmonton Warriors before working his way up to Junior A in Sherwood Park. Throughout high school, Michael has attended tournaments and scouting camps south of the border, which drew interest from college coaches.
Last fall, the Senators presented Michael with an opportunity to play the 2017 season. It took a hurried effort, but he will be in West Virginia just on time to start studying for a degree in environmental biology and join the team for the start of the lacrosse season.
“In high school, his marks went from average to high. He started working harder when he realized he could (get a scholarship), Doug said. “He’s one step closer to being an adult now.”
If you know of any sports news or events happening in the area email email@example.com.