Alexander Graham Bell famously said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
For an athlete who unexpectedly suffers a severe knee injury, the door to their playing career begins to slam shut. Often, the physical, mental and psychological toll can be overwhelming, forcing the athlete to give up on their life long dream of participating in competitive sports.
In the case of Tyler Codron, his impressive collegiate football career as a defensive back, where he earned all-star honours twice, came to a sudden halt in his final year at the University of British Columbia (U.B.C.) when he tore his left ACL in 2009.
Codron began playing football at the age of nine, and now, just over a decade later, his dream of being a Canadian Football League star was stripped from him. He had been raised loving the sport, watching it and playing it with his brother and his father, who is a B.C. Lions season ticket holder.
“I grew up watching football and loving football,” said Codron. “I love everything about it. I love the physicality of the sport.”
His persistence and desire to remain a competitive athlete fuelled his attempt at a comeback. Giving up would hand his doubters a win, and that was something he couldn’t stand for. So, with the love and support of his parents and girlfriend (now wife), Codron dove head first into rehabilitation.
“I wanted to prove the doubters wrong,” said Codron. “They would say, ‘You’re never going to come back, you’re never going to play again.’ It added fuel to the fire. It made me want to come back and come back better than I was to prove them wrong.”
Unfortunately, despite his intensive regiment, this ACL injury would forever end those football hopes, but that isn’t the end of Codron’s story. While football was no longer an option, playing box lacrosse was not out of the question.
Codron had been playing box lacrosse in the seasons he wasn’t playing football since he was a child. He was equally skilled at the fastest sport on two feet and had opportunities to play professionally much like with CFL.
Two years before his injury in 2009, Codron was drafted to the NLL’s Portland LumberJax. He was quickly known as a strong defender who could lay a solid hit on the opposition and was named to the 2009 NLL All-Rookie Team.
The road to recovery was gruelling, but the parallels in training for football and lacrosse helped Codron work his way back into regular playing time, first for the Washington Stealth and then for the Edmonton Rush in 2011 and 2012.
Warriors defensive coach, Clayton Richardson, who was also a former member of Coquitlam B.C.’s board of directors for amateur sport, noted that the ability to be prepared for various competitions and systems is higher among multi-sport athletes.
“Multi-sport athletes are invaluable because they’re increasingly more rare,” said Richardson. “You notice that you’re able to part those sorts of players in different situations in games because they grew up playing different sports where it requires different speed, different hand-eye coordination, a different vision.”
“Vision is key. You can usually tell who the multi-sport athletes are because their vision is unparalleled.”
Out of the NLL for 2013 and 2014, Codron continued to condition, train and prepare to come back into the league. His handwork paid off and earned him a spot on the 2015 Colorado Mammoth roster. It just so happens that current Warriors Ian Hawksbee and Colton Porter were also on the team that season.
He took advantage of the opportunity, posting numbers more like his first two seasons in the league. He scooped up 42 loose balls and scored his first goal since 2009, set a career-high in caused turnovers with 11, and most importantly, he played in every game that year, something he’s only done in 2008 and 2009.
Yet, despite all that he had worked to achieve, it would once again be stripped from him. During the training camp of the 2016 season, Codron re-tore his left ACL, sidelining him for what could’ve been the last time.
“My first thought [after the injury] was, ‘Back to work,’” said Codron. “It’s funny because I worked with Erik Torchia who is now the Warriors head of medical services. We worked together pretty much every day so I could try and get better. It was just another speed bump, though. I had to keep going and get better.”
This return would require a different rehab because not only was Codron getting older (and now attempting to return from a second torn ACL), but the league was changing while he was healing.
“When I first came in the league, the players were unbelievably talented with their stick skills, but speed-wise, it wasn’t like it is today,” said Codron. Today, the kids coming into this game, they’re fast. I knew I had to drop a few pounds and work on my speed. That was my main objective so I can keep up with these guys.”
As he’s grown as a player and a teammate, Codron has become the consummate teammate, even winning the Team of the Year award in Colorado that 2015. Now that he’s returned to the NLL once again, he’s continued to be one of the most supportive, vocal leaders on this Warriors squad says Chris Gill and Richardson.
“He’s an unbelievable leader for us,” said Gill. “He doesn’t wear a letter and wasn’t on our initial leadership group, but it doesn’t matter because he is a natural leader. He does whatever it takes in the dressing room and on the floor.”
“He might be overlooked outside of our locker room, but he’s definitely not within it,” said Richardson. “He’s been one of our most vocal guys since training camp. He’s a guy that junior players look to when the going gets tough; the way that he motivates his teammates is exactly what a coach would want to see out of a leader.”
Back in the league for what Codron and his teammates and coaches hope is not hindered by yet another injury, the vocal, sturdy defender is hoping to impact the Warriors in whatever ways he can.
His ability to fight through adversity, utilize past football skills and help younger players try to achieve their potential helps to anchor the team with high-quality talent and leadership. Codron does miss playing football, but he opened another door that was presented to him and has taken full advantage of what the game of lacrosse has given him.