Merritt’s Clinton Kaboni looks to blaze a trail in California

By on January 3, 2018
Wayne and Clinton Kaboni pose a few days before they set off to California, where Clinton is set to begin his season with the Sierra Canyon trailblazers. (Cole Wagner/Herald).


With a thick layer of snow covering the ground, and temperatures outside dropping to the negative teens on the regular, it’s understandable that Clinton Kaboni isn’t eager to get outside to work on his lacrosse game.

But in a few days, Kaboni won’t have to worry about searching through the snow to locate his lacrosse balls, as the Grade 10 student will be on his way to Southern California, after being accepted to the prestigious Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth.

The young lacrosse phenom will leave for his new home in the U.S. on Jan. 6. There, Clinton and his father Wayne will meet the billet family who will serve as surrogate parents while Clinton looks to make his mark with the school’s field lacrosse team.

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks, said Wayne. The family found out that Clinton had been accepted on Dec. 22, and quickly made arrangements with the school to find a billet family with a connection to the school’s elite lacrosse program.

After meeting with the family, Kaboni will be suited up for his first practice on Jan. 9, only months after he picked up the field game in September.

“I was kind of nervous at first, but now I’m just ready to go,” said Clinton.

Clinton (right) and fellow Merrittonian Bill Brewer both played for Team B.C. at the North American Indigenous Games last year. (Photo contributed).

The opportunity to play at a competitive and prestigious school like Sierra Canyon could open doors for the 15-year-old Grade 10 student. Clinton said his goal is to earn a scholarship to play field lacrosse at an NCAA Division 1 school, and with three seasons to learn from coach Mario Waibel, Kaboni may very well accomplish that goal.

But beyond his personal aspirations, Wayne believes that Clinton’s attendance at the school could lead to more opportunities for lacrosse playing kids in Merritt.

“It opens opportunities for other kids. I’ve been coaching lacrosse since I moved here,” said the elder Kaboni, who also served as team manager for B.C.’s U16 boys’ lacrosse team at the North American Indigenous Games last year. “With this relationship with Sierra Canyon, it could lead to more opportunities for kids in Merritt.”

And head coach Waibel already seems eager to mine the Nicola Valley for more lacrosse talent, as Clinton’s younger brother Connor has already lined up his application to the California school.

Clinton Kaboni (#17) has played four years of box lacrosse but only picked up the field game last September. (Photo contributed).

“Mario sees the connection of two brothers who play together, and they both play really well together,” said Wayne.

Leaving behind his brother and dad will be a new experience for the 15-year-old, but he’s relishing the opportunity to train hard under the California sun. And Wayne, for his part, said he would try and take every opportunity to visit.

“It’s only been the three of us all of these years, so every sacrifice is without question,” said Wayne. “You just do it.”

Trailblazing School

Kids from Kindergarten to Grade 12 attend the Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth, Calif.

Located on a 37-acre campus, the school boasts top-of-the-line sports facilities for its large roster of varsity sports.

The Trailblazers have won eight state championships, and three straight league titles in boys’ lacrosse.

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