LYNDEN, Wash. — They call him “Finland” on the North County high school lacrosse squad, a nickname that comes with the territory for Lynden High School senior and now veteran international athlete Treven Salminen.
But for a wide-eyed, yet confident 17-year-old, one of just two Americans to earn a spot on Finland’s U-19 National Lacrosse Team this last year, Salminen was just one of the guys, eager to test his mettle against the world.
And, of course, excited for his senior year, a course-load heavy on math and the sciences and his senior prom.
“When I made the (Finnish) team, I was really excited. I couldn’t wait to get over there and play with the team,” said Salminen, one of the youngest players to earn a roster spot among the 12 national teams stocked with college-level talent, squaring off at the U-19 World Championship in Turku, Finland this July.
“But it was a little nerve racking,” the 6-foot, 160-pound midfielder conceded. “Playing against all of these college guys was a challenge. The (international) game is much faster than at the high school level.”
Seeing playing time mostly on offense, the now 18-year-old Salminen excelled, scoring four tournament goals and contributing two assists. The effort helped Finland wrap up U-19 play atop their division with a 2 – 1 record, ahead of Germany, the Czech Republic and Wales before dropping an 8 – 9 OT decision to the Germans in the final round to finish eighth overall.
A strong cap to the junior midfielder’s 18 goals, 11 assists and 59 ground balls during the 2012 prep season that helped propel North County to the quarterfinals of the Washington High School Boys Lacrosse Association post season.
“Treven wasn’t scared and wasn’t intimidated against some of the big kids out there,” said Finland head coach Risto Worthington, a former NLL attackman with strong college credentials who now coaches the high school team at the prestigious Glenelg Country School in Maryland.
For a senior-to-be lacrosse player from Washington state, pursuing a spot on an international roster was a lofty pursuit. A prize only two other state players, Lakeside School’s Stenn Jernud in 2010 and Issaquah High School’s Kevin Powers in 2011, have achieved in the four-decades of high school play in Washington state. Both earned spots on Sweden’s national squad. And both are now playing at the NCAA level.
After following his older brother Derek, a Lynden graduate who played for the inaugural North County prep squad in 2006, the younger Salminen and his father, a former top level junior hockey player of Finnish descent, looked to take the family lacrosse tradition – and heritage to the next level.
An online search connected them with Finland and Worthington, who after studying North County game film, invited Salminen for a tryout.
“Treven was able to practice with the Finns right away. My thought was that if he is better than the majority of them it’s a no brainer. We’ll take ‘em,” said Worthington, who found Salminen’s coach-ability, work-ethic and experience playing other sports a plus.
“You want to have someone that has played at least one other sport. It’s a testament to their athletic ability – that they can apply their skills across sports,” said Worthington. “If you’re looking to make a decision on a group of kids, a multi-sport athlete is huge,” he said. “Today, so many kids think they need to specialize. That’s a mistake.”
Intrigued with its speed and continuous play, the crossover athlete with a hockey and football background found lacrosse to be natural from the beginning. “Lacrosse is a fast game, not slowed down by whistles,” Salminen said. “It’s faster than football but helps with your vision on the field, agility and cardio. With lacrosse, when you’re on the field you’re scoring and passing.”
As the youngest member of the 2012 Finnish team, Worthington saw potential in Salminen from the beginning.
“Treven was higher middle when we first saw him, but you’re going to grow,” said Worthington who instructed Salminen to work on his stick skills, get as much game experience as possible and hit the wall.
“Champions are made on the wall. You’ve got to get out and throw the ball against the wall. So it’s repetition,” he said. “For him, that’s what he needed to do and he did it. ”
And the hard work and attention to detail is starting to catch the eye of college coaches,” I’ve talked to a few including one from Southern Florida who came to the World Games,” said Salminen.
But for now, “Finland” is looking forward to his senior year at Lynden High, his classes, the prom and just being one of the guys.
And lacrosse? “I just love the game,” he said.
# # #
– Mike McQuaid, Sports Information Director, US Lacrosse – Washington State Chapter