Two weeks ago we told you about Per-Anders Olters, a German born and raised player who will be making the jump to play NCAA lacrosse at the D1 level, but Per is not the only European player making waves and joining the NCAA ranks, as we have just learned that Belgium’s Tim De Ceuster will be heading to play NCAA lacrosse next year as well!
Tim is going to play NCAA D2 lacrosse at the University of Mount Olive, and is the first Belgian born and raised player to head off to play NCAA lacrosse, at least as far as we can tell! We got to check in with Tim about his learning process, how he got recruited, and what lacrosse is like in Belgium. Plus we have highlight videos to show off his slickness, because seeing is believing, and Tim De Ceuster is fun to watch!
First off, Tim – CONGRATS, this is obviously huge for you, and for Belgium lacrosse. Tell our readers a little bit about yourself!
My name is Tim De Ceuster and I was born in Ieper, Belgium. I am 18 years old and a senior at The International School of Brussels in Belgium. I recently signed my NLI to play Lacrosse at the University of Mount Olive, making me the first Belgian player (born and raised) to go on to play NCAA Lacrosse.
I was introduced to Lacrosse in the 4th grade by my homeroom teacher Mr Fraser, a Canadian box fanatic. He would frequently project Lacrosse games on the big screen in our classroom and make us watch games during our so called “silent reading time”. On top of that he would always carry around his stick and often fiddle with it around the classroom. I never really understood the concept of the sport at the time, but he always told me to try it out once I got to 6th grade.
Once 6th grade rolled around, my dad gave the ultimatum between trying out for the School’s JV Rugby or Lacrosse team. After watching a video on youtube called “Lacrosse’s Biggest Hits ” I was automatically sold and wanted to play as soon as possible. After the first practice I was hooked and I haven’t looked back since.
What is Belgian lacrosse like at the high school level? What about the men’s senior level?
Lacrosse at the High School level in Belgium is nothing compared to how big and competitive it is in the US, but it’s rapidly growing with both youth and varsity teams. There are only three high schools in Europe which actually offer Lacrosse as a varsity sport, and ISB is the only High School in Belgium that offers Lacrosse in their athletic program. Due to the lack of Varsity programs in Europe, more specifically Belgium, we mainly play against youth and men’s club teams around Belgium and Europe.
Men’s senior Lacrosse is a lot more popular and competitive here in Belgium when compared to the High School/youth level. We currently have 13 senior men’s teams. Playing in the men’s league is a lot more enjoyable in my eyes, as it’s more physical due to the fact that you are not only playing against and with your national team buddies, but because you are quite literally facing up against full grown adults, which provides for a unique experience and lots of potential for improvement and growth.
When did you know you could play NCAA lacrosse? Is there a moment that sticks out in your mind where you went from wondering if you could play to knowing that you could do it?
I knew I could play NCAA Lacrosse once I started going to big time showcases like Blue Chip 225. Out of the 350 Rising Juniors there, I was selected to play in the all star game which comprised of the showcase’s top 40 players in our respective graduating class. That moment really kickstarted the recruiting process for me. After Blue Chip, I received about 20 interest emails from various D2 and D3 programs and I even received some attention from lower tier D1 programs.
Being a kid from Belgium, and going into one of the biggest and most prestigious showcases in the United States, and then being selected for the all star team, and then gaining the recognition I did, all made me want to work that much harder to accomplish my dream of playing NCAA ball. It helped me realize that I could do it, but needed to keep working and improving.
This past summer I returned to Blue Chip 225 were I was again selected to play in the All Star game. If it wasn’t for the guidance of Ted Spencer, and his wife Denise Spencer who organize the Blue Chip 225 Showcase, and the continuous support of my parents to help make my dream of playing NCAA Lacrosse come true, I would probably never be in the position I’m in today.
How did you end up connected to Mount Olive? What was the recruiting process like?
The goal I set for myself was always to play at a nationally ranked NCAA program. I didn’t really care too much about whether a program was D1, D2, or D3, I really just wanted to play NCAA Lacrosse at a high level. The University of Mount Olive provided me with that opportunity when they reached out to me towards the end of the summer. Coach Price really just painted me a picture/offer that I couldn’t pass up.
Being Belgian, and not being exposed to the same level of competition that kids in the US or Canada are constantly exposed to, made my recruiting process extremely stressful, as it meant that I realistically had one opportunity to prove myself in front of college coaches that year. I wouldn’t be able to attend showcases in the fall so this was really my shot. This “obstacle” and challenge of not facing constant exposure made receiving emails and handwritten letters that much more rewarding. To know that coaches are interested in recruiting a young man from Belgium out of the thousands of Lacrosse players that play stateside and in Canada was a dream come true.
Like I said, the recruiting process was a lot of fun even though it was probably one of the most stressful things I’ve ever been through. A lot of my nights were spent on phone calls with various coaches and sending off emails, but in retrospect, I would do it all over again if I could. All in all, the recruiting process was a unique experience which I am thankful for everyday.
Are there a lot of players in Europe who could play NCAA college lacrosse?
I think there are lot of talented youth players in Europe, and especially in Belgium, who radiate potential. I play with a good number of these guys on a regular basis during my club season with “The Braine Lions”. The talent that is coming out of Braine is absurd, and I confidently believe it is because of the effort and passion of the coaching staff.
Vince Vanschoenbeek, Head Coach of the Belgian Men’s National Team and HC of the Braine Lions, does a terrific job at turning these young kids into well rounded players and transforming them into potential National Team stars. Every year the amount of talent that arises in local and international tournaments increases, which I think is awesome for the growth of the game. I hope that my story of being the first Belgian NCAA Lacrosse recruited player will inspire other Belgian’s to follow in my footsteps to play collegiate lacrosse.
Thanks Tim! We are sure that your work ethic and character have set a great standard for players coming after you. Well done, and best of luck as you continue along on your path. We’ll be following along closely for years to come!