Captain Keaton an obvious choice
No one had to tell Keaton Zavitz the history of the captaincy of the St. Catharines WMKL Athletics junior A lacrosse team.
“Starting way back with me watching my brother (Carter) in the arena when I was 13 years old and watching him play his first junior A game, Billy Saxton would have been the captain then. I remember watching him on the floor and Holden Garlent was next then Latrell Harris and then it went to Tommy Whitty after that. Then it was one of my best friends, Jackson Webster. Seeing those guys wear it and being able to wear it now, I have dreamed of it.”
The 19-year-old St. Catharines native found out he had been selected as team captain prior to the Athletics’ road game against Burlington on Monday. Head coach Steve Toll first announced that Julian Race and Gavin Howard would serve as alternate captains.
“I had a little bit of butterflies in my stomach before he was about to do it after hearing him call the names of the other two guys out and I was still left. Waiting to hear that was probably one of the best moments of my life.”
Zavitz, who leads the A’s this season with 20 goals and 45 points in 13 games and sits 10th in league scoring, feels there were a number of attributes that led to his selection.
“I like to play a tenacious game and I try to be the hardest-working guy out there. My leadership skills are that we are never out of the game and I like to show the guys the right way to play. It’s hard work and never giving up on anything.”
He describes his leadership style as leading by example.
“I am the same way Toller (Toll) would be. We are not the most skilled guys — maybe we think the game the right way — and it all comes to who wants it more and who has the most heart. You have to work for it.”
Toll said it was obvious that Zavitz should be team captain.
“He does everything well off the floor and on the floor. He takes care of the guys and he does all the little things like collecting money for tips when we go out and eat as a team to being a leader in the dressing room and just his work ethic on the floor,” he said. “It is unmatched on both ends of the floor. He plays the most for our team and when you do the things he does you should be rewarded for it.”
Toll describes the captaincy as an honour.
“He is going to be like Latrell Harris and realistically be the captain for three years. It is a pretty big honour and usually it is last-year guys or second-last-year guys but he has earned it and he deserves it. As a team, we feel he is the right choice to make and we are super proud of him. He has a lot of responsibility and a lot of leadership things going on now but I think he is a big boy and he can handle it.”
Zavitz led the Athletics in scoring last season with 29 goals and 80 points in the regular season. Along with A’s teammate Mitch Armstrong, he won gold for Team Canada at the 2022 IIJL World Junior Lacrosse Championships in Winnipeg last August.
He feel his game is continuing to evolve.
“It is always putting in the work. I work out all year round and when I come off of school, I go back to the gym. You have got to work out. You have to get bigger, faster and stronger if you want to play at the next level and that has taken my game up. I am able to throw some guys around out here and hold my own.”
Toll sees a much more confident player this season.
“His confidence got a boost knowing he is one of the best players in the league. He has really excelled since he realized he is that good and he can be even better.”
Zavitz’s next step is to get bigger and stronger.
“Down the road, I see him as like a Challen Rogers of the Toronto Rock, a transition player who can also play at the top of the power play or be at the top of the penalty kill,” Toll said. “He is going to be an all-around guy that everybody will want. There’s no doubt about it. He is going to play in the NLL and probably in the PLL as well.”
Zavitz has committed to Ohio State University for a lacrosse scholarship starting in fall of 2023. His goal at Ohio State is to help his team win a championship and he plans to work hard to make that a reality.
“After this season ends, you have a month for yourself before you start school and there are a couple of things I want to work on. I want to get my footwork a little better and when you are playing in America you have to have a little bit of both hands. I am a Canadian and I have only got one right now. I have to work on my left hand.”
He will leave for Ohio State Aug. 20.
The Athletics evened their regular season record at 7-7 Wednesday night with a 9-6 victory over the visiting Oakville Buzz (9-5).
Scoring for the A’s were Noah Snyder, Christian Lefeuvre, Gavin Howard, Ari Steenhuis, Carson Robins, Zackary Toll, Julian Race, Tye Steenhuis and Zavitz.
Scoring for Oakville were Jake Dawick (2), Bryan Jackman, Tyler Ford, Will Sheehan and Xander Derkatz.
St. Catharines plays Six Nations Saturday at 7 p.m at Canada Games Park.