Know Your Athlete, Lacrosse, Men's Varsity, Sports

Know Your Athlete: Dylan James

McGill Redbirds’ Dylan James comes from a lacrosse family. He followed in the footsteps of his older cousins who played and now his younger brother, Austin James, competes in the same league, playing for the Trent University Excalibur.

Although James played ice hockey when he was younger, he eventually shifted his focus to lacrosse.

“Although I did enjoy hockey, it was much more of a social thing. [Hockey] was competitive and I definitely tried at it, but it was much more about enjoying the sport with friends,” James said in an interview with The Tribune. “With lacrosse, I realized that there was a deeper passion and opportunities in the future that I was looking forward to.”

James dreamed of playing university lacrosse since high school. He completed two years of high school in his hometown of Little Britain, Ontario. However, after tenth grade, he transferred to Virginia Episcopal School, an American boarding school whose representatives he met with after playing a lacrosse tournament in the United States. The school offered him a spot on their lacrosse team in pursuit of playing at a university level.

Until he was 13, James primarily played box lacrosse because it was the only option available in such a small town. Then, in grade seven, he tried field lacrosse, where he was able to thrive.

Although James originally hoped to play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the COVID-19 pandemic pushed him to return home to Canada for university and attend McGill. Now in his second year of eligibility after the pandemic sidetracked the lacrosse program for two years, James has enjoyed his experience as a student-athlete alongside his teammates.

“Playing a varsity sport is a huge commitment to begin with, but it feels like much less of a commitment when you have the community of guys that we have,” he said. “There are definitely going to be days where you’re a little sore, you’re beat up, you just don’t really feel like playing, but then you have teammates that are willing to put in the work but also want to have a good time––it’s a group of friends.”

His personal goal for this season was to be more of a leader in the attack.

“Last year, I didn’t step in the role that I knew I probably could have filled, whether I want to blame that on injuries or it being my first year—all of those are kind of just excuses,” James explained. “The reality is, I just wasn’t stepping up the way that I thought I should have, and that was a big thing for me.”

James also wants to make the most of the time he has left with his team in his last year on the team before he graduates, whether that means enjoying the social events more or just hanging out with his teammates outside of practice and games.

“That has honestly made this year much more enjoyable from a practical standpoint because we’re much closer, I think, this year,” James said.

Outside of lacrosse, James likes to focus on the “student” part of being a student-athlete: He is a McGill psychology major McGill and spends a lot of time studying. He also enjoys socializing with his non-lacrosse friends or doing anything active, especially going for walks outdoors. 

With the team now one game into the 2023 playoffs, James spoke on the team’s mental toughness going into the elimination games.

“I think on paper, we have the opportunity to be the best team in the league,” he said. “But it’s more just making sure that we’re being tough, that we’re being disciplined, that when we go down, we’re not hanging our heads, we’re focusing on getting the next one.”

The Redbirds won their first playoff game 9-5 against Queen’s University on Oct. 29. Next, they will play in the quarter-finals against the University of Guelph on Nov. 3 at the Baggataway Cup.

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