Every kid grows up dreaming about playing professionally — especially for their hometown team — and Kyle Belton was no different.
Belton learned to play with the Langley Minor Lacrosse Association and he remembers attending Vancouver Ravens games as a kid when the National Lacrosse League was in town from 2002 to 2004.
He achieved the first part of the dream — playing professionally — after he was drafted into the NLL in 2012.
Belton spent 2013 with the Rock before splitting the 2014 campaign between Toronto and the Philly Wings.
As for 2015? He will live the other half of his childhood dream of playing pro in his hometown as a member of the Vancouver Stealth.
The Stealth acquired the transition player earlier this month (Sept. 12) in exchange for Jamie Lincoln.
“It feels awesome,” Belton said last week.
“It is pretty surreal; to be able to play for the professional team … where you have grown up is something special.
“I am just excited for the opportunity.”
The 27-year-old had been splitting his time between Langley and Toronto.
“I am really excited to be finally back home,” he said.
“I don’t have to be bouncing around, spending half my time in Toronto and half here.
“It can get a little much traveling, so being able to settle down in Langley full-time is definitely something I have looked forward to for a long a time.”
Belton added that his family is pumped about the trade.
“Being able to play in front of my family and friends will be great,” he said.
Belton is used to playing at the Langley Events Centre, the Stealth’s home arena, as the LEC also serves as the home floor for the senior A Langley Thunder of the Western Lacrosse Association.
He already knows many of his teammates, either from playing with or against them during the summers in the WLA.
“It will be nice to be in a familiar setting with some familiar faces,” Belton said.
The Stealth will hold training camp in December and begin their second season in Langley on Jan. 3.
In eight games last year, Belton scored two points while collecting 30 loose balls.
His rookie year saw him score five points and grab 56 loose balls in 13 games.
“Truthfully, I have been playing offence my whole life and I feel like I can be a player that can play at both ends,” he said.
“I feel like I can be a big tool for them with my speed, being able to transition the ball and get loose balls, and pretty much help out wherever they need me.”
Another Langley Minor Lacrosse Association alumni has also been in the news.
Garrett Billings won the NLL’s Sportsmanship Award at the league’s awards ceremony on Sunday night.
Billings, who stars for the Toronto Rock, became the first player to win the award in consecutive seasons.
The fifth-year pro had just two penalty minutes in 15 games played before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
He still managed to top the 100-point plateau for the third straight season.
Billings was also named to the NLL All-Pro first team and was a finalist for league MVP.
It was his third straight season as runner-up.