Just over five years ago, they were ball boys with the Delta Junior “A” Islanders. Now, they are not only a big part of their future, but taking their lacrosse games to the NCAA level too.
Matthew Burt and Silas Richmond spent the summer of 2016 running out onto the Ladner Leisure Centre concrete floor during play stoppages and mopping up sweat if a player happened to take a tumble. It was a thankless task, but these keen youngsters got to be right at the bench as their hometown team enjoyed a historic run to the league title and the Minto Cup. It only grew their drive to be better players.
Richmond recently announced he is taking his field lacrosse career to the University of Albany. Now his long-time close friend and teammate is heading south too with Burt officially committing last week to Limestone University, a South Atlantic Conference school in South Carolina.
“If I didn’t play out of Delta, I don’t think my passion (for lacrosse) would be the same,” smiled Burt. “The environment in Delta is pretty special. Just playing in front of the crowds in junior really gets you going.”
It’s also a tight-knit lacrosse community to the point where Burt didn’t have to look far for advice on what route he should go at the collegiate level.
He reached out to current Vancouver Warriors star Logan Schuss on what his experience was like at Ohio State University and 2016 Islanders standout Chase Fraser who played at the Division III NCAA level and now thrives in the NLL with Buffalo.
Burt had offers from a number of schools including Tampa, Wingate, Georgian Court and Indianapolis. It was through a lacrosse friend that Limestone’s interest was initiated as the Saints were looking for a left-handed midfielder.
“I took my time. I laid out all my offers on the table and decided which one I wanted to go to,” said Burt who will study business management. “It was a journey for sure, but an exciting journey.”
As much as lacrosse has been a big part of this multi-sport standout’s life, Burt’s desire two years ago was to take his basketball career to the post-secondary level. That was until COVID-19 hit and wiped out his entire Grade 12 season with the Delta Pacers.
“At that point I didn’t have any (recruiting film) for basketball,” said the 2021 DSS grad. “Lacrosse opened back up again and once I got a stick in my hands, I fell back in love again with the sport.”
That re-dedication included joining the Pro Caliber Lacrosse Academy, run by Coquitlam native and former Denver University star Tyler Pace.
PCL not only offers elite training, but sends travel teams to recruiting tournaments throughout North America. That got the attention of U.S. college scouts for both he and Richmond, a couple of East Ladner kids that had indirectly pushed each other to become better players, including endless hours working on their stick skills at the Holly Park turf field.
“When we were younger we were battling each other for the best player in Delta. We didn’t realize it. We were just scoring goals together,” laughed Burt. “It just kept going back-and-forth. Silas definitely pushed me to where I am today.”
Next spring, Burt will be turning his attention to box lacrosse where he and Richmond hope to make the jump to the Junior “A” Islanders after putting up big numbers last season with the Junior “B” tier one team.