Roanoke’s Canadian connection
From the Roanoke College Magazine, Issue Three, 2012. View the entire Roanoke Magazine online.
Jon Mason '07 left a profound legacy at Roanoke College. In addition to dominating the men's lacrosse record books, Mason was one of the first Canadian lacrosse players at Roanoke.
His success set a standard, but more than that, it attracted other Canadian lacrosse players to the College.
This year, there are four lacrosse players from Canada at Roanoke, including siblings Brayden Gerrie '13 and Meghan Gerrie '15. Roanoke has had eight lacrosse players from Canada since Mason first arrived at the College in 2003.
Mason scored more points, goals and goals per game than anyone else in Roanoke's lacrosse history. He also earned the titles of All-American, ODAC Player of the Year in 2007 and Attackman of the Year for Division III lacrosse.
Mason "was just amazing," said Bill Pilat '85, men's lacrosse coach at Roanoke. "He is so far ahead that I will be surprised if his record is ever broken."
Mason and Matt Quinton '11, who is also from Canada, are two of the top three men's lacrosse scorers in Roanoke College history. Mason scored nearly 100 more goals than Roanoke's next leading scorer, Pat March '10. Quinton trails closely behind March.
Quinton and Mason are both now playing professional lacrosse. Quinton was drafted to play for a Boston-area indoor lacrosse league, and Mason is planning to play in the new Canadian Professional Lacrosse League, CLAX, this winter.
Mason and Quinton's successes have encouraged other Canadians to take a look at Roanoke.
"Knowing that Canadians were excelling here at Roanoke was obviously something that caught my eye," said Brayden Gerrie, a current co-captain.
At least one or two Canadian lacrosse players have come to the College each year for the past nine years, said Elise Bennett '99, associate director of Admissions at Roanoke.
"We always keep an eye out for [Canadian lacrosse players] because they have been such good players," Pilat said.
The stellar records of these players are partly due to their playing experiences in Canada. Beginning at a young age, lacrosse players in Canada grow up playing box lacrosse, "which is indoor lacrosse on a dried-up hockey rink," Pilat said.
In box lacrosse, the nets are smaller and the goalies are bigger because of their heavy, hockey-like padding, so their shots and passes have to be more accurate and precise, Brayden Gerrie said.
"In Canada, we would play on a travel team, and then come to the States to play American teams," sister Meghan said. "We would see all they have to offer here [in the U.S.], so we would want to come and play here."
Canadian athletes are drawn to the United States because American colleges have great school pride and superior athletic departments, Mason said.
"It always gives me a great sense of pride when I see other Canadians attend Roanoke," he said. "I think it helps show that there is a lot of talent in Canada and because of this, more college coaches are starting to heavily recruit Canadians."
-Caitlin Mitchell '13