His first choice was to gear up for the Bishop's University Gaiters. So when Douglas Porter overcame the final barrier standing between him and his goal, he couldn't keep the smile off his face.
Porter, an 18-year-old lacrosse player, also felt the weight of uncertainty lift from his shoulders: he finally knew which team he'd be playing for and which school he'd be attending.
"I'm really happy to be able to finally say that I'm going to one university instead of trying to choose," Porter said. "It's a little bit of a relief, especially for my mom and dad (Sherilynn and Kevin). They've both helped me out a lot over the past couple months and over the years with lacrosse."
Bishop's is located in Sherbrooke, Que., and the Gaiters play field lacrosse, not the box variety. Porter had also drawn interest from Burnaby's Simon Fraser University and Ottawa's Carleton, as well as from schools in Alabama and Florida.
But Bishop's was the one that seemed to want Porter the most. Assistant coach and general manager Drew Pollock saw Porter last summer in Oshawa, Ont., when Porter was toiling for the Burnaby Mountain Selects at an All-Canadian showcase event. Pollock spoke with Porter about the Bishop's program and Porter liked what he heard. Contact was maintained and everything was finalized after Porter dealt with an academic issue related to the fact he was taking Grade 12 courses at College Heights secondary school and was also enrolled in an electrical program at the College of New Caledonia.
"I was in the college courses and I only took four Grade 12 courses and (Bishop's) didn't accept one of the ones that I took," he said. "So I had to get another course online and work hard at getting that done. I got my grades to them and got accepted on Monday."
The Gaiters compete in the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association against schools like Carleton, Trent, Ottawa, McGill and Queens. The season runs from September until the end of November and the Gaiters normally play in tournaments on both sides of the border in the spring.
Field lacrosse has the same general rules as box lacrosse but, obviously, there's a lot more space. Defensively and offensively, players need to be able to cover ground quickly, which suits the speedy Porter perfectly. And while he's more than capable of scoring goals, being the guy who pulls the trigger isn't his focus.
"I try and be a team player," said Porter, who stands five-foot-10 and weighs 170 pounds. "I don't want to always be that goal-scorer, I try to get everybody involved in the play.
"I've got not bad hands - sometimes the ball can disagree with my stick, but it happens," he added with a laugh.
Porter, who will study humanities at Bishop's, started box lacrosse at the age of six and grew into a standout performer with Prince George Posse rep teams. As a midget-aged player in the Prince George Minor Lacrosse Association, he got his first call-up to the local senior league and is now in his second full season with the Co-op Petroleum Stylers. Through his first seven games this season, he has 20 goals and 42 points - second-most on the Stylers and sixth-best in the league.
As a member of the Stylers, one guy Porter faces is RPR Mechanical/BX Pub Bandits star Cole Paciejewski, who played field lacrosse for Pfeiffer University in North Carolina. Paciejewski has coached Porter for the past three years in field lacrosse and has also taken extra time to work with him, something Porter appreciates.
"He has tried to help my game out as much as possible, always pulling me to the side when he's coaching, giving me tips what to do on the field and even just working out - just the little things, going to the gym with him and shooting around," Porter said.
While Porter was excelling at box lacrosse, he took up the field game with teams like the Burnaby Mountain Selects and the Thompson-Okanagan Selects. A couple years ago, he realized playing field lacrosse in a university program was a possibility for him.
Training camp with the Gaiters starts on Aug. 24. Canadian schools don't offer athletic scholarships but Porter may get some financial support through the academic side.
"I'm still waiting for them to get back to me," he said.
"I'm happy just going there and playing lacrosse for them and going to school."