Like father, like son: Skye set to make his mark in WLA
Aaron Skye (left) and his father Pete, back in 2020 after Aaron was selected by the Langley Thunder in the WLA Junior Draft. Pete played for the North Shore Indians in 1997 and 1998 before the team relocated and was renamed as the Langley Thunder. Photo courtesy of Cherie Baker
It is a story which has come full circle.
Twenty-four years ago next month, Pete Skye skipped a Western Lacrosse Association game with the North Shore Indians in Victoria to witness the birth of his first son, Aaron. Plenty of athletes have missed the occasional game to welcome their offspring into the world, but what makes this story unique is the fact that Aaron is now a member of the WLA’s Langley Thunder (the same North Shore organization which would move to Langley in 2004).
And while plenty of brothers, cousins, uncles/nephews have suited up for the organization, the Skye’s are believed to the first father/son duo to play for franchise.
Two years ago (2020), Aaron was a third-round selection of the Thunder in the WLA Junior Draft after spending the entirety of his BC Junior A Lacrosse League career with the Langley organization.
“He put in the work the last few years, he deserved to have gotten drafted,” Pete said of the eldest of his three sons. “I would have been happy if he got drafted anywhere but being drafted to (this organization) sure is the icing on the cake. There was definitely a smile when he got drafted by Langley.”
Pete played five seasons with the organization: 1997 and 1998 when they were the North Shore Indians, and again from 2001 to 2003 when the team was the Okanagan Thunder and then the North Shore Thunder. He also played back east in Major Series Lacrosse with the Six Nations Chiefs, spent a few seasons in the National Lacrosse League with the Buffalo Bandits and rounded out his lacrosse-playing days at the Senior B level with North Shore of the West Coast Senior B Lacrosse Association.
In total (with junior included), Pete played from 1988 through to the end of the 2006 season. His playing days behind him – the elder Skye is now serving as an offensive coach for the rival Burnaby Lakers -- Pete has enjoyed watching Aaron develop his own game.
“That is always a very special relationship when you get to bond and play catch with your son,” Pete said.
Aaron was a fixture at his father’s games, but more of his memories come from watching old video of his dad in action.
Pete Skye holds his eldest son Aaron. Photo courtesy of Cherie Baker
“I was pretty young to remember (him playing) but from the video clips I have seen, you could see he was a force on the crease,” Aaron said in analyzing his dad’s game. “He liked to get hit and make moves in the crease and he had a pretty good shot, I am not going to lie. And he wasn’t afraid to go into the corners.”
But while Pete was known for scoring goals, Aaron is tasked with preventing them as a defender. Prior to his junior career, Aaron scored his fair share of goals, but when he arrived in Langley for junior following his midget career, Tom Johnson (one of the Intermediate Thunder coaches) suggested having Aaron focus on defence. The rationale came from Aaron’s football background where he played both defensive and offensive line, helping develop his footwork which is a key for any good defender in lacrosse.
“Because of his position in football we knew he had great footwork and he would have been in really tight to make our team on offence,” explained Matt Leveque, who was part of the Thunder coaching staff first at the Intermediate level and then the Junior level. “And we knew we really needed to keep him in the program.”
“He is the greatest kid to coach: always willing to learn and take on any role he is asked to help the team win,” Leveque added.
The move proved correct with Aaron winning provincial gold at the Intermediate level in 2016 and then becoming a mainstay the following three seasons through the duration of his junior career. Now comes the next step as he embarks on his senior A WLA career.
“Be a sponge. He has the tools, he just needs to learn the faster paced game,” Leveque said about what Aaron needs to succeed at the Senior A level.
Fittingly, his new coach will be Rod Jensen, who also coached Pete back in the day with North Shore.
“Pete could really rip the ball,” Jensen recalled. “Aaron works hard and he is big and strong and should have a shot at playing with us. Pete was a quiet guy, didn’t say much, he just went out and played. Aaron seems to be able to communicate … he talks a lot on defence and what not.”
Pete is just happy knowing his son is in good hands.
“Good coaches, they definitely taught me a little more about lacrosse than I knew, and I am looking forward to Aaron learning from them too,” he said.
“I have always been there to give him a few helpful hints but I’m sure it went in one ear and out the other,” Pete chuckled.
That’s a sentiment Aaron doesn’t exactly deny.
“Back in the day I didn’t use to listen, I’d say ‘Dad, you are not the coach, let the coach coach me.’ Now I listen to him a lot and try to put it into my game.”
Aaron Skye defends against Coquitlam's Jackson Gillis on June 1 at Langley Events Centre. Ryan Molag Langley Events Centre photo