When Israel hoisted its hardware July 15th at the European Box Lacrosse Championships in Finland, the country’s first team gold medal in any sport, an international statement was made with Jean-Luc Chetner holding the megaphone.
Chetner notched four goals and two assists in Israel’s 8-7 victory over Czech Republic in the final, a fraction of his production throughout the tournament. He finished with 24 goals, 17 assists and 41 points, the championship’s best in all categories. For his accomplishments, he earned tournament MVP and First-Team All-Europe honors.
No personal accolades triumphed the trophy, though.
“It kind of set in once we flew back to Israel and realized we were able to do something special for the country,” Chetner said. “We brought the trophy back, and everyone was clapping for us in the airport. Even if they didn’t know what lacrosse was, everyone was happy we were able to win a trophy on an international stage like that.”
But before the summer, Chetner had never left North America, let alone trekked the Atlantic for Israel.
In the fall of 2014, Chetner’s roommate at the University of Richmond introduced him to Israel Lacrosse. A native of Coquitlam, British Columbia, Chetner questioned his eligibility, but learned through his family’s heritage, he could play as an Israeli. His father, Dan, is Jewish and was born during his parents’ two-year stint at the Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv.
With Israel, Jean-Luc Chetner is More Than an Athlete
It took almost three years for the dream to be realized, but in 2017, Chetner finally donned the blue and white.
For as important as he was on the floor, Chetner’s contributions extended well beyond.
Part of Israel Lacrosse’s mission is to grow the sport from the ground up. This means visiting schools, introducing the game to children and holding open training sessions for any youth interested. The players are some of the program’s top ambassadors, a role that runs in Chetner’s blood.
Both of Chetner’s parents are teachers. His mother, Diane Maltais, teaches language at Penticton Secondary School in Penticton, British Columbia, and his father is a professor teaching math and other programs to adults at Okanagan Community College in Kelowna, British Columbia. On top of it all, Dan Chetner has coached lacrosse for nearly 20 years and coached his son when he was younger.
Although Chetner doesn’t plan to become a classroom teacher, working with children is something he loves. During his time at Richmond, Chetner often volunteered at celebrate! RVA, a non-profit that provides celebrations for underprivileged children in Richmond for their birthdays. The work was through his team, but Chetner made sure he was one of the team’s four volunteers as much as possible.
“I enjoy being around kids. It’s easy work for me,” he said. “It’s uplifting and once it’s over, you feel satisfied that you gave the kids a good time. Same thing coaching in Israel. After the session, you feel pretty satisfied everyone had a good time learning the sport of lacrosse.”
Working Toward Bigger, Better Goals
When Chetner came home for a couple weeks after his trip before heading to his new school, Towson University, for his final year of NCAA eligibility, his experiences coaching and teaching the game he loves to Israeli children was one of the main aspects of his trip he explained to his father.
“It’s in his DNA, the embracing of teaching and sharing your knowledge with somebody else,” Dan Chetner said.
This spring, Chetner will try to take Towson to its second-straight Final Four before hoping to come back to Israel for the World Championships. As big as the championship in Finland was, it couldn’t be compared to claiming the field crown with Israel acting as the world’s stage. Chetner understands the stakes, and after spending a summer assimilating and shining in the program, he welcomes the challenge.
“I think I can be one of the go-to guys offensively,” he said. “I love being the go-to guy. That’s what I ended up being for the box team. I think I can be the same for the field team for the 2018 Worlds, and I’d have a lot of fun doing that back in Israel.”