Don’t ever accuse Dean Fairall of giving up on his dream.
The 27-year-old Port Moody resident is finally getting his chance to play in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) after attending four training camps with the Vancouver Warriors, Colorado Mammoth and the Panther City Lacrosse Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
It’s there Fairall is expected to pull on Panther City’s black and purple jersey for his NLL debut on Sunday (Feb. 20) against the Calgary Roughnecks.
He earned the opportunity by scoring 26 goals and adding another 27 assists in eight games for his Shooting Eagles team in the Western division of the Arena Lacrosse League (ALL).
The ALL is a kind of developmental minor league for players on the practice roster of NLL teams or who had been released from an NLL team and are looking to break back in.
Its newly minted West division is comprised of four teams, all of which play out of the Langley Events Centre.
Fairall’s name is likely familiar to local lacrosse fans.
He toiled for three summers with the Coquitlam Adanacs of the Western Lacrosse Association (WLA) before he was dealt to the Burnaby Lakers midway through the 2019 season. He’s amassed 55 goals and 84 assists in 50 games in the senior circuit.
But, he said, his dream has always been to play pro in the NLL.
“I started this dream five years ago,” he said. “It feels pretty good that I might get to play this weekend.”
Fairall’s been close before, though.
In 2018 he took the floor in a pre-season game with the Mammoth and promptly injured his ankle on his first shift. He was out for three months.
The road back from that injury has been long and arduous for the native of St. Albert, Alberta, who played his college lacrosse at Grand Canyon University.
He failed to crack the Mammoth’s lineup in the 2019 season, and lacrosse options in subsequent seasons were few and far between as COVID-19 public health restrictions shut many leagues down beginning in the spring of 2020.
Last spring, with the WLA still sidelined, Fairall was able to hone his game in the Xtreme Lacrosse League, an amateur circuit for top senior and junior players that was also able to play some exhibition games against WLA rosters last summer.
Fairall attended Panther City’s first training camp last November and was added to the expansion team’s active roster on Monday.
Panther City is currently last in the NLL’s West division, with one win and seven losses.