Vancouver, B.C. – Not a lot of people can say they get to play with someone who was their childhood hero, and Vancouver Warriors’ defencemen Reid Bowering and Brayden Laity are a couple of the lucky ones.
Bowering and Laity loved Matt Beers’ fierce play on the floor and have an appreciation for his leadership ability.
Bowering still has a Beers bobblehead in his childhood room, “last time I was there I checked,” he assured, adding that he had acquired his prized possession when he was in college at Drexel University.
The 25-year-old Bowering is a Coquitlam native and grew up in the Coquitlam lacrosse system. Beers was the Coquitlam Jr. Adanacs captain in the BCJALL, while Bowering was coming up the ranks and he has been watching Beers ever since.
“Even as a kid you can see he’s a strong defender and looks like a great leader too. He really stands out on the floor,” Bowering said. “He’s a big guy and an enforcer in ways. He’s not easy to play against and I understand that a little bit more now, having played a few years in the league, that people don’t really like going up against Matt Beers because it hurts.”
He’s one of the toughest players out there and he’s also one of the kindest. When Bowering was drafted by Vancouver second overall in 2020, the first call he received congratulating him was from Beers.
A couple of weeks later Beers reluctantly chose to sign with Saskatchewan as a free agent.
“I was pretty upset about that, because I was so excited to play with him. He was so welcoming, which was great, because you’ve got to feel comfortable as a rookie and he helped with that right away. He’s just a great overall guy and happy to be on the same side of the floor now,” Bowering said.
Last week Bowering said he and fellow defender Owen Grant had a film session at Beers’ house as the team prepares for the Georgia Swarm Saturday, December 16th. Although Beers is a 12-year NLL veteran, Bowering says he encourages all of his teammates to speak on what they’re seeing on the floor and make suggestions.
“Sharing our opinions during an open discussion is always great, because everyone doesn’t see the play the same way, so it’s great to learn from each other. Obviously, Beers being a veteran, he’s got some great insights. I’m definitely paying close attention to what he’s saying,” Bowering said.
Not that it’s a contest of who is the bigger Matt Beers fan, but Laity gave a speech in Grade 7 about how Beers was his favourite player.
There’s a cautionary saying that if you meet your hero, you might be disappointed, but Beers has gone above and beyond what Laity thought was possible.
“Just getting to watch him in practice and see how he conducts everything he does is cool,” Laity said. “It’s exciting that I get to learn from one of the best in the business. I’ve always looked up to him on the floor and getting to know him off the floor is now even better.”
Beers likes to support his teammates and their families outside the box too. He brought his son to Laity’s family farm, Laity Pumpkin Patch, to take him through an obstacle course (something similar to American Ninja Warrior) and introduce himself to Laity’s parents.
Laity, 20, started watching Beers when the Vancouver Stealth played in Langley and was an influence in him choosing lacrosse as his primary sport.
“He was always the big hitter, grinder, fighter type of guy that I always liked,” Laity said. “I really wasn’t too big into lacrosse at the time – I liked hockey more – but he was one of those players that stood out to me that made me fall in love with lacrosse.”
Just like with Bowering, Beers was quick to make Laity feel welcomed on the team. Laity was drafted as the ninth overall pick in the 2023 NLL Entry Draft in September and Beers wasted no time getting to know the rookie in training camp.
“Right away he took me under his wing. The first practice when we were stretching, he came over and asked me what I’m taking in school and what I want to do in my career,” Laity said, adding he was invited to grab a bite with a few of the veteran players during some down time during media day.
Beers set the tone at training camp and through practices and training, Laity’s been able to study Beers’ game up close: watching how he reads a play, sets his feet, and makes the young guys feel welcomed.
“He was the hardest working guy the first day of training camp. He set the level of expectation for the rest of us,” Laity shared and that he’s taking notes on what he can bring to his last year of Junior A lacrosse next season.
Beers says the Warriors have a lot of young, talented defencemen and he’ll do anything he can to help them.
“I entered the league at 20 years old, same as Laity, and I always had such great mentors and role models to learn from. It really shaped the person I am on the floor and in the community,” Beers said, sharing that he feels their young guys will be “absolute studs” in the NLL.
From bobbleheads in childhood rooms to shared film sessions and off-floor camaraderie, as Bowering and Laity unite forces with Beers on the floor, the impact of his mentorship is evident in their experiences. Over time it becomes more “normal” to be playing alongside their role model, but it never gets old.