Story by Jeff Gard/jgsportsmedia.com
For Pierson LaFrance, becoming an accomplished lacrosse player is a lot like learning to play a musical instrument. It requires a lot of training and dedication.
LaFrance certainly doesn’t shy away from either challenge. He’s an elite level lacrosse player and has also been playing the violin for the past 10 years, even joining the Royal Conservatory of Music and testing for four of those years.
“The dedication is very similar,” LaFrance, who just turned 17, says. “Violin, growing up since Grade 2, I was playing for an hour every day including weekends for the past 10 years so if you add that up…that’s the dedication that it takes. It’s the same with lacrosse, I just try and put in as many hours as I possibly can out in the backyard and then with the team as well.”
There are only so many hours in a day to get things accomplished, but Lafrance makes the most of them. Playing one sport just made him want to do more. You can add snowboarding, wakeboarding, sailing (he’s even a certified instructor) and wrestling to the list of sports he’s spent hours of time honing his skills over the years.
Just like his enjoyment of multiple sports, one musical instrument is not enough.
“We had a guitar hanging around and I actually have never taken a guitar lesson so I was completely self-taught,”LaFrance said, noting he’s played for about five years now. “From playing violin so long I’m able to pick up pretty much any instrument, like I’ve played trumpet for a couple years with the school band, I can play drums, guitar, all that so it’s basically just self-taught just because I know the theory of music.
“It’s a good outlet and a break from the intense, getting your body mashed and all that. It’s a good thing to pass the time by.”
Education is also important to LaFrance. The grade 11 student is focused on his studies at Cobourg Collegiate Institute in hopes of earning a lacrosse scholarship. He’s not satisfied with earning one just on his athletic prowess. His goal is to graduate with a business degree and run his own business in the future.
“Academics is one of my biggest goals to succeed in,” LaFrance said. “Every day I’m studying just to keep my grades up because I know that going down to the States with the money and all is not going to be cheap so what I’m doing is trying to get as high of a scholarship athletically as I can using my lacrosse skills and then obviously I’m going to have to work really hard to keep my grades up so that I can get an academic scholarship as well.”
LaFrance, who was born in the city, has been a lacrosse fan since he began watching the Peterborough Lakers. He began playing with the Northumberland Minor Lacrosse Association when he moved to Cobourg.
“I got invited out to the peewee team and got started with them and I loved it,” he said. “I had such a passion for it growing up and once I finally got to play, just hitting the floor, in the beginning it was tough. I went my first year not scoring a single goal and right at the end, the championship game, I scored my first ever goal and the feeling I got from that was incredible and I’ll always remember that. I wanted to play for the rest of my life.”
LaFrance enjoyed playing for Northumberland Nemesis teams, but as his skill level increased he sought a higher level of competition. He ended up playing for the Peterborough Lakers midget team and won a provincial championship in 2019.
It was a step up in competition and also he learned to adapt from being a standout offensive player in Northumberland to transitioning to a new defensive role in Peterborough.
His play in Peterborough got noticed and LaFrance was recruited by Evolve Elite Lacrosse based out of Toronto without a tryout. He played with Evolve for the winter up until March 2020 when everything got shut down due to COVID-19.
“We didn’t get back into play until the summertime and we ended up getting our full season just without national travelling,” LaFrance said.
Also in the summer of 2020, LaFrance played for the Wolves Lacrosse Club out of Burlington in the United Lacrosse League.
“It was basically a chance for all the kids from Canada to come together and play against each other since there was no out of Canada travel,” he said. “I was really excited to be a part of that and I was playing in Burlington three times a week. That’s one of the greatest bonds I’ve had with my team. We were a very talented team and we ended up winning the league championship and I had over 70 points in that league.”
A chance to compete in the All Canada Games, a recruiting tournament based out of Aurora, helped LaFrance toward his goal of an NCAA scholarship.
“I got contacted by multiple university-level coaches after that,” he remarked. “That’s basically what it was, just a chance for the universities to come watch and recruit some kids.”
In addition, LaFrance was drafted in the third round to the United States Premier Lacrosse League by the Cavaliers Lacrosse club. He’s hoping to play for the Cavaliers starting this year.
“As of right now, I’m unsure of my entire season. I don’t know what my schedule is going to be like,” LaFrance said. “I’m just hoping that it will go on as scheduled for the Boston Cavaliers.”
There is a lot of uncertainty, but LaFrance will keep his aspirations high. In fact, he remains hopeful lacrosse will be added to the Olympics.
“One of my biggest goals is to play for Team Canada when they put lacrosse into the Olympics so I’m hoping to one day be able to do that,” he said.
To hear more about Pierson Lafrance’s sports and music, clicking the play button at the top of this page to listen to the full interview.