Semiahmoo Secondary hoops star follows in father’s footsteps
Skylar Sheehan is going into the family business – but still carving his own path along the way.
The Semiahmoo Secondary basketball star committed earlier this month to the University of Calgary Dinos, entering the same Canadian Intercollegiate Sport (CIS) ranks that his father, Dave, did in the early 1980s.
From 1981-86, the elder Sheehan played for legendary coach Ken Shields at the University of Victoria – winning five straight national titles – and though he still has some ties to the Vancouver Island school, he never expected his son to follow directly in his path.
“I’m extremely proud and extremely happy for him,” Dave said, adding that he is still friends with UVic’s athletic director and assistant basketball coach.
“Calgary showed the most interest in him, and had a spot for him. I told him, ‘If the coach likes you, if he believes in you… then that’s a good sign.
“You don’t want to go to a school where they’re taking you just to fill out the last spot on a roster. You want a chance to play.”
Skylar, a six-foot-five shooting guard, said while he briefly considered other CIS options – including UBC and, briefly, Victoria – Calgary was the most logical choice. For starters, the team, which had a veteran-laden roster last year, will have a handful of open roster spots in the fall, so he’ll have a chance to play.
He also gelled well with the coaching staff and other players during a visit to the Calgary campus earlier this year.
“They have some pretty good players on the team right now – they’re all really nice guys,” said Skylar, who will head to Cowtown this summer to help out at a handful of youth basketball camps, before settling in for good in time for the fall semester.
Though he grew up hearing stories about his dad’s national-title winning basketball squads, Skylar didn’t focus solely on the hardcourt growing up. He played baseball, lacrosse, “and soccer, a little bit,” he said.
He, like many Canadian youngsters, also had a keen interest in the country’s unofficial national game – “I used to watch a lot of hockey,” he said – before focusing on basketball when he arrived at Semiahmoo in Grade 8.
“That’s when I really started getting serious about it,” Skylar said.
This year, the Grade 12 guard was key part of the Totems’ turnaround on the court. The team had struggled in recent years, but this season were among the more competitive teams in the city, losing the Surrey championship to the Tamanawis Wildcats. They were especially good after the Christmas break, at one point reeling off 10 straight victories between the RCMP Basketball Classic tournament and the city final.
“As soon as Skylar came in, he changed our program with his talent and his commitment,” said Semi senior boys coach Ed Lefurgy.
“And Dave has been fantastic, too, and has helped me out from Day 1.
“Skylar has put in a lot of hours in this gym… I can see why he’s been so successful, because those qualities and important habits have been ingrained in him by his parents.”
While he’s always been quick to guide and advise his son along the way, Dave said he’s never really had to push his son to work hard.
“He never needed to be told. Working hard just comes natural to him – he just likes it. He’s a perfectionist,” Dave said.
In his playing days, Dave said he was a hard-working guy on a team full of national-team stars, but sees more talent in his son than he had at the same age.
“He’s more skilled than I was at his age, has more natural talent,” Dave said.
“When I played, there wasn’t much summer basketball or anything like that. We played during the season, and in the off-season you just played pick-up ball. There were no organized teams to play on, no provincial teams to play on, so it’s the 10,000-hours thing – Skylar’s just had so much more time to improve.”
Both know there will be an adjustment period next season, however, since as the elder Sheehan is quick to point out, “you go from playing against your peers to playing against men.”
However, Skylar isn’t focused so much on who he will be lined up across the court from, instead choosing to pay attention to his own development.
“I’m not going there with too many expectations, I’m just going to focus on my own game, and getting better.”