he first time Blaine Boomer heard from an interested NCAA lacrosse program, he was 15 years old.
Now 17, the South Kamloops senior has made his choice.
Boomer said Wednesday that he has committed to Limestone College in Gaffney, S.C. Limestone, whose sports teams are called the Saints, plays in the NCAA's Division II. Its field lacrosse program is one of its most prestigious sports teams.
Once Boomer's signature hits the school's papers, he will officially bring to an end a long courtship from somewhere between 20 and 30 American colleges.
"It's pretty exciting . . . it took a long time," Boomer said. "I checked out of a lot of different places, but felt that Limestone was the best fit."
Although field lacrosse hasn't taken off in Kamloops like its box lacrosse counterpart, Boomer started getting noticed in the field during the summer of 2010, before he went into Grade 11 at South Kamloops.
He had spent part of his Grade 10 season playing with a provincial team, and also was recruited to play for the Burnaby Mountain Selects, a travelling team.
Out of those experiences came some initial interest from Syracuse University.
It has barely stopped since.
"It's been all over the place," said the midfielder, "from when I was 15 years old. I don't even know how many schools have contacted me."
It wasn't an easy decision.
There were a number of reasons for choosing Limestone, Boomer said. He visited the school in February with his father, Jim, and liked the coaches and the players - and pretty much everything else.
"I enjoyed it - it was beautiful there and everybody was really friendly," Boomer said. "Even in the cities, everyone's nice - it's a good area, and it's warm, which I like."
Who doesn't like the heat? But sitting around in the sun is somewhat different from running up and down a 100-metre field in 35 C temperatures.
Boomer isn't worried.
"Apparently the summers are ridiculously hot and the winters aren't that cold," he said. "I like playing in hot temperatures."
And it won't be the first time Boomer will have played outdoors in the Eastern U.S.
Over the past few summers, with provincial teams and the Burnaby Mountain Selects, Boomer has visited New York, Maryland and both Carolinas. He has handled the heat and has come to understand how much the citizens in those states like their lacrosse.
"It's ridiculously huge down there," he said. "It's like soccer up here, where kids start when they are five or six years old. It's big."
Boomer also understands he has an excellent opportunity sitting at his doorstep.
The 75 per cent scholarship is considered both athletic and academic. Boomer plans to use it to get an exercise science degree, which he hopes will lead to a career in physiotherapy or personal training.
"(One of) the reasons I liked Limestone is the class sizes," Boomer said. "It's a smaller school . . . and I want to go in as a student-athlete and work hard at lacrosse and my schoolwork."
Boomer will spend much of the summer with the Kamloops Venom, a member of the Thompson-Okanagan Junior (box) Lacrosse League, and working with Greg Kozoris of Acceleration Fitness.
Boomer is planning to head to South Carolina in the latter stages of August, only a few days after the Venom finishes its season at the Founders Cup, the national junior B championship, in Six Nations, Ont.
"It's going to be busy," Boomer said, "but it should be good."
© Kamloops Daily News