Canadian speedster built for field lacrosse

ERIC BENDER -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:10 AM ET

In his 24 years, Billy Dee Smith hasn't gone far from his hometown of St. Catharines and he regrets that.

"I should have gone to school," said the four-year National Lacrosse Leaguer who plays just down the highway from home with the Buffalo Bandits.

Yesterday at TD Waterhouse Stadium, he was playing for Team Canada in the world field lacrosse championships. It's his first serious foray into field lacrosse, his background being all box lacrosse with the St. Catharines Spartans minor program and the St. Catharines Athletics at the junior A level.

The trim six-foot-three, 215 pounder with lots of speed was drafted third by the NLL Buffalo team when he still had a year of junior eligibility left. He caught on professionally immediately.

"I love the field game," Smith said after scoring in Canada's 12-8 win over the Iroquois Nation. "There's so much field to use my speed. I wish I had played it before."

Smith would have been even more adept at the field lacrosse game if he had gone to a U.S. college where field lacrosse is a high profile sport. But he never went to college.

Although listed as a defender, Smith is being used by Team Canada coaches as a midfielder. "My role is to use my speed to my advantage and to take away (the opposition's) transition game. All year I've been taking everything in and tried to learn as much as possible."

Smith said he learned by mail that he had made the national team after a final cut-down camp last fall in London. He was mildly surprised and pleased.

Being a pro player doesn't mean that's his only job. He has a landscaping business with his brother-in-law Mark Steenhuis who is the Bandits' No. 2 scorer.

Perhaps they can groom up a field so Smith can hone his outdoor game even more. Considering his age and experience and with the world championships held every four years, he will have several opportunities to see some of the world.


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