Toll a two-sport athlete

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:40 AM ET

EDMONTON - No need to remind Jarrett Toll that there are two official national sports in Canada.

In his first year attending the U of A, the computer sciences major is playing hockey with the Golden Bears and lacrosse with the Edmonton Rush.

With both the second semester schedule and the National Larosse League regular season getting underway this weekend, Toll has a busy few months ahead.

"I knew he was a good lacrosse player," Bears head coach Eric Thurston said of the six-foot 195-pounder, who turns 22 on Jan. 16. "The stars aligned with the Rush realizing he was going to be here.

"Certainly we want our players to be able to look at every option and to help themselves grow and do different things. I'm certainly not going to stand in the way but I gave him some games -- like where we go to Saskatchewan and different things -- where I said, 'I don't care if the Rush is playing or not, if I have to kidnap you, you're coming."

In the first semester, the freshman played every game and has proven himself a skilled and physical defence-man.

Following six seasons with the WHL's Tri-City Americans, the hockey-focused athlete was given the rare opportunity to continue his lacrosse career when he was drafted in the fifth round by the Rush in September's NLL draft.

"Coming here, I didn't really think that it was a possibility," said Toll, who also spent the past four seasons -- or off-seasons -- with the New Westminster Salmonbellies in the B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League.

Not wanting his talents to go to waste, Salmonbellies coach Dan Perrealut offered to put Toll in contact with some NLL connections before Toll left for the U of A.

"Since I got to go to Edmonton, the Rush was there so I said I might as well give them a call," Toll said. "The next thing I know I was getting picked in the draft."

By comparison, his journey to the Bears followed a much more direct route.

"I was playing in the WHL last year and I got a call from the U of A and they said they were really interested," Toll said.

"One of my teammates for the last three years in Tri, Johnny Lazo, also decided to go here, so that kind of made it an easy decision. We ended up getting an apartment together.

"It's a great team, the guys are awesome, the coaches know a lot. It's been a blast."

Toll grew up in Maple Ridge, B.C., playing hockey in the winters and lacrosse in the summers.

But his perfect marriage of sports at the next level required a specific setting that wouldn't have happened had he been drafted anywhere else in the NLL.

"I talked to a couple other teams but me being able to play for another team, the chances were pretty low," Toll said. "I think they realized that and it was kind of lucky no one else wanted to be a pain and not let me play here, so I was really happy to be chosen by Edmonton."

PAYING THE TOLL: In September, Toll travelled to Peterborough, Ont., for his first Mann Cup as a backup with the Senior A Salmonbellies.

"I had to miss the first 10 days of class, but that's an opportunity you can't really pass up," he said. "Unfortunately, I didn't get to play but I got to hang out with the guys, meet the whole team and just kind of watch them go through the whole process."


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