Tyler Eckert has been a hawk for the ball during his St. Thomas More Collegiate football career.
Offence or defence, the Burnaby teen has developed a habit of being in the centre of attention.
Now, the 18-year-old will be a ‘Hawk’ of another kind as a member of Sir Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, starting in September.
Eckert committed to the Waterloo, Ont., university with an eye on making life miserable for opposing players. Laurier, which finished second in the Ontario University Athletics circuit, is expected to slot the dual-threat player at defensive end.
The Hawks saw their season end with a 75-32 loss to eventual national champion Western Ontario in the quarterfinals last fall.
St. Thomas More’s 2017 season hinged on a lot of things but was struck by tragedy in September when longtime coach Bernie Kully died after being diagnosed with cancer. The squad, bound together in their grief and desire to play for their coach, marched through the regular season undefeated.
As the team’s primary ball carrier, Eckert averaged 132 yards per game in his senior season, scoring 13 touchdowns.
But late in the year Eckert was diagnosed with mononucleosis and was sidelined for nearly a month. The illness stripped the team of a provincial all-star, and while he returned for the B.C. high school semifinal match against Terry Fox, he was not 100 per cent and limited to defensive duties in what proved to be the Knights’ only loss of the season.
STM coach Steve De Lazzari wasn’t surprised that a high-
calibre program like Laurier lured him to Ontario. As one of the Knights’ captains, Eckert regularly showed the skills and leadership that would be an asset to any club.
“It was his character and mindset that set him apart,” said De Lazzari. “(Eckert) dedicated himself every day and at practice to be the best player, the best teammate that he could be. He’s a very gifted athlete, with good size and strength, but that was just part of it. He worked as hard as anyone and was dedicated to making the team better.”
A five-year player at STM, Eckert was a big part of the program’s 2013 Grade 8 provincial championship run and was voted the team’s MVP this past year.