Courtesy of Skyer Wilson

Not only have the trees outside of Reese Stadium sprouted new leaves with the arrival of spring, the lacrosse field has also been awakened with the solo practices of a single men’s lacrosse player and his three coaches.

Attackman Skyler Wilson ’24 is currently the only member of the men’s lacrosse team on campus participating in practices, receiving individualized training and attention from the team’s coaches. As well as taking five classes this semester, Wilson practices three times a week in addition to four lifting sessions.

“As far as the season goes, it’s obviously very different, being the only one on campus,” Wilson said. “Obviously, I would much rather be practicing with the rest of my team, but it’s not every day that you get the opportunity to be coached one on one by the best coaches in the entire country.”

After taking a leave of absence in the fall, living at home in Canada, Wilson currently resides in Benjamin Franklin College. He told the News that when he decided to enroll for the spring, he was, at the time, “pretty optimistic” about having a season.

Despite not being able to compete in games and the dispersal of his teammates across the country, Wilson has been enjoying practices, focusing mainly on dodging footwork and shooting, rather than systems work, which would require teammates.

“I’ve been able to practice, essentially since after my quarantine ended,” Wilson said. “[And because] Canadians only usually use one hand, because we grow up playing Indoor Lacrosse, I’ve been working a lot on my right hand [so] hopefully it’ll be serviceable by the time next season comes around.”

Wilson, right, celebrates with teammates during a game against Villanova in February 2020. (Photo: Courtesy of Yale Athletics)

Because he is the only men’s lacrosse player practicing this semester, the restrictions imposed by Yale’s spring phased training guidelines have not had a significant impact on his practices. 

Offensive Coordinator Tom Compitello, who was a volunteer assistant for the Bulldogs’ 2018 national championship team before returning to Yale in the summer of 2019, spoke to the News about the different nature of practice this spring.

“Prior to working this year, I worked at scholarship schools [and] the biggest difference between those places and Yale … is that out of season [at scholarship schools] we have an exponential amount of more time,” Compitello said. “Especially this spring with it being just Skyler on campus, we’re like, ‘Well, what are all the things that we would normally do in a place where we have all this extra time, and let’s just do it now, especially with him.’”

Compitello said that in a normal year, practices would be held five days a week, with games on Saturday and an occasional Tuesday game. These practices would consist of around two hours on the field, in addition to another 45 minutes of film distributed throughout the week.

Alone with his coaches during practices at Reese Stadium this spring, Wilson has been focusing mainly on dodging footwork and shooting, rather than systems work, which would require teammates. (Photo: Courtesy of Yale Athletics)

Although there were more members of the team on campus last fall — mainly first years and some upperclassmen — Compitello said that they only had two or three practices where small group drills with sticks were permitted. This spring, Wilson is permitted to participate in sports-specific activities under the phasing guidelines.

“I think the biggest thing all coaches have learned throughout this process is just the ability to adapt on the fly [and] with Skyler, it’s the similar goals [of the team], but just more individually driven,” Compitello said. “Just to see his confidence and his skills — that has been the biggest jump from year one to year two.”

With his 4:30 p.m. practices at Reese Stadium, all three coaches have invested their time into Wilson, although they also look forward to having the entire team back together again next season and getting them ready for play, said Compitello.

Head coach Andy Shay, who in a recent interview with the News expressed similar hopes for next season and future competition, also commented on Wilson’s efforts during his solo practices this spring.

“We throw balls at him and let him catch and shoot and try to give him as much of a look as possible,” Shay said. “He’s getting the most intensive tutelage of any player in the country right now, I would say, [but] he’s already pretty good … if you get coaches out there against him, none of us can cover him.”

“He’s getting the most intensive tutelage of any player in the country right now,” head coach Andy Shay, pictured above in early 2020, said of Wilson. (Photo: Courtesy of Yale Athletics)

Before he enrolled for the spring, Wilson took a leave of absence in the fall, spending time working for his father and helping him sell motorcycles. Wilson set up an online store to help the business adjust to the pandemic, as potential customers were not able to come in person.

His brother, men’s lacrosse midfielder Griffin Wilson ’24, decided to take a leave of absence for the entire 2020-2021 academic school year to work as a support worker for at-risk youth. He decided to stay in British Columbia for the spring semester to maintain the connections he has made with the children he has supported this year.

Before heading to New Haven, Wilson traveled to Stuttgart, Berlin, Copenhagen and Amsterdam by himself in October — when the European Union opened up travel to Canadians because of the reduced number of COVID-19 cases at the time.

Now back on campus, Wilson also looks forward to next semester, a new season of lacrosse and the return of his fellow teammates.

“You don’t really realize how big of a portion of your life it is until it’s taken away, being a part of a team, especially one as close as we are,” Wilson said. “It’s been such a big part of my university experience, and I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to some form of normality.”

Men’s lacrosse made back-to-back national title games in 2018 and 2019, winning the first. 

Amelia Lower |

Amelia Lower covers football, men's ice hockey and men's lacrosse. She is a senior in Jonathan Edwards College from Rye, New York, double-majoring in Spanish and the History of Science, Medicine and Public Health.