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North of the Border with Riley Wanzer

3 - Published April 20, 2011 by in College

North of the Border with Riley Wanzer (Mukilteo, WA / Kamiak High School) Freshman, LSM

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As the only U.S.-born player on the team, what was it that drew you to Simon Fraser? Academically? Lacrosse-wise?

Before choosing SFU I travelled all around the U.S. looking for the right school. I made visits to Roanoke, Sacred Heart, Providence, Canisius, Salisbury, Cortland, Ithaca, Geneseo, and Whittier. Travelling back and forth to the east coast made me realize that I wanted to study closer to home. Unfortunately, none of the schools in Washington had lacrosse programs that were up to my standards as far as the level of play goes. I had seen SFU play against UW in Seattle and the level of play by the Clan caught my eye. I had never heard of SFU before, but after doing some research online I became interested in what they had to offer both athletically and academically. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to study, but I figured with SFU’s extensive programs I could find something that sparked my interests.

The SFU guys are known for how close-knit the team is. How were you received by the Canadians on the team?

Upon coming to SFU I was a little concerned on how the guys would feel about having an American on the team. I soon found that it didn’t really matter where you were from as long as you could lax. Being the token American guy on the team has its challenges. I am constantly reminded about how the British (with a little help from the Canadians) burned down the White house in the War of 1812. There are also heated debates concerning health care. Overall, I think the guys appreciate an American point of view to help them clear up some misconceptions about the U.S. I am always being asked questions like, “does everyone in America walk around with an M-16?” or “Is everything really bigger in Texas?” They have also helped me clear up some misconceptions of my own like, “Do the cops here really ride around on horses with big hats and carry six-shooter revolvers?” Overall my stay in Canada has been a great experience and has opened me up to a whole new world.

What is it like playing with Canadians? Was their style of play hard to get used to?

With Seattle being so close to B.C. I have played against Canadians in countless tournaments over the years. The style of play is very fast paced and includes a huge emphasis on the transition game. Pushing the ball has always been my strong suit, and when playing LSM, I feel that the Clan’s run-and-gun style allows me to utilize that skill. The fast paced style has also helped my game in other aspects that needed work. Since joining the team I have been taught the importance of the ride. We spend hours at practice developing our riding game to counter the various types of clears that we face throughout the season. I enjoy being part of a Canadian team because our style of play is so much different than the American teams we face.

What would you tell a fellow American trying to decide between SFU and a U.S. university?

I would tell them to not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Just because all of your friends are going to American schools doesn’t mean you have to follow the crowd. College is a time to step out and meet new people. If you choose your school based on where your friends are going you won’t be forced to make new friends and it will basically be the same as high school. SFU’s diversity in the student body makes it one of the most interesting schools in North America. Going to SFU has created so many memories that none of the other kids get to experience and if I had the chance I would do it all over again.

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