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Tuesday, May. 21, 2019
Ryder Thususka is first commit to Western lacrosse class of 2022
by Randy Pascal

Ryder Thususka knew that he had plenty to learn, enrolling at Upper Canada College some three years ago.

Academically, it was a given. Athletically, perhaps not so much.

"When I first arrived here, I was pretty humbled by the amount of talented kids that are there," noted the 18 year old eldest of three children in the family. "You've got to look at yourself, take a step back and see where you might flourish more, and for me, that was field lacrosse."

Not necessarily an easy point of acceptance for a typical Northern Ontario teenager who had grown up with NHL dreams, competing on one "AAA" minor hockey team after the other in his youth.

"Growing up in Sudbury, the lacrosse scene wasn't all that big, so hockey was always that dominant sport at the forefront that everyone was playing," said Thususka. "I always took hockey as my number one sport."

Come the fall of 2018, it will be with the defending national champion Western University Mustangs field lacrosse crew for whom the native of Sault Ste Marie will be plying his talents. It was all part of the evolution that he would experience at U.C.C.

"One of the things that I really like about the school is that they push you to go outside of your limits a little more, instead of specializing in just one thing," stated Thususka. "They like to broaden your talents as a student, as an athlete, and I think that's where lacrosse came into the big picture."

A talkative and outgoing character by nature, Thususka would not limit his personal growth to the rink or the turf. "I joined multiple clubs at UCC, joined the improvisation club, and have not regretted it at all. I could join those clubs, because they weren't as big a commitment."

"If you join the band or the theatre group at Upper Canada College, you're in for the long run, so it's either you're doing lacrosse or you're doing band." Before long, it became clear that lacrosse it would be.

"I've always had some talent, it was pretty easy for me to put the ball in the back of the net," Thususka recalled. "But in second year at Upper Canada, things were starting to happen for me, I was starting to gain a deeper understanding for the game. Everything started to click."

A fairly natural athlete, Thususka could not draw on previous field lacrosse experience, his prior knowledge of the game limited to the indoor spring and summer variety that is practiced in venues such as the Carmichael and McClelland Arenas in Sudbury.

"The tightness and physicality of box lacrosse can give you an edge, in field, when it comes to battling for loose balls and stuff like that," he said. And, of course, there would be a somewhat instinctive cross-over from hockey, evident in at least a couple of aspects of his new game.

"As a midfielder, a major responsibility, other than trying to score, is getting back and playing solid defence," he explained. "Playing defence in hockey all my life, I think that was a natural reaction for me, to try and get back and support the team."

"I didn't really try out many other positions, they just threw me into the midfield position. I'm not sure why, but I think they lucked out. Running up and down the field, it's a really intense position, but I think that's the type of player that I am."

While the notion of field lacrosse as a varsity sporting pursuit may have evolved gradually, the academic fit between Thususka and Western was more deeply rooted. "It was always going to be a school I was going to apply to, whether I was going for lacrosse, or just for school," he said.

With the help of UCC field lacrosse coach Max Perren, Thususka would make in-roads, reaching out to the program that has walked off with provincial bragging rights in each of the past two seasons.

"I know that I'm not going to walk on to a national championship team and crack the starting roster," he noted. "What I expect is to work hard, continue to develop my skills, and as I get older and more mature and acquainted with the level of university field lacrosse, that I will start to play and make a serious impact for Western."

Thankfully, he won't have to look far for motivation. Fellow Sudburian and former GSLA Rockhounds' teammate Tristan Simeoni has followed just that path, jumping from a five point freshman campaign in 2016 to his spot as the Mustangs third leading scorer this past fall (15G-13A-28 pts in 12 games).

"I'm looking forward to playing with Tristan," Thususka admitted. "I spoke to the Western coach and he said that Tristan is a huge part of their team." Certainly someone from whom the incoming rookie can learn.

And as he has shown before, Ryder Thususka can learn.

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