Nikolai Farrus: Musings from a Mustang

Nikolai Farrus is a Vimy lacrosse alumnus, who graduated in 2014. He is currently still playing for the Western Mustangs at Western University in Ontario. Nikolai received his Mechanical Engineering degree in May 2018 and is now pursuing his thesis-based Master’s degree regarding ultra-precision machining techniques at Western. He just completed his 5th season with the team and plans to play all throughout his secondary degree. The Vimy lacrosse family was excited to reconnect with Nikolai and hear about his successful lacrosse and academic experiences playing in the CUFLA:

1) Congratulations on winning the Baggataway Cup this year! Your team is on a 3-peat this far, how do you see this winning culture being created?

Thank you! The team culture over the past three years has created our foundation for success. Compared to previous years the cohesiveness, chemistry, and ultimately the amount of quality time the entire team spent together off the field allowed everyone to become comfortable with each other. These bonds translated into the game.

Also, I believe, especially this season, the veterans played a big role.  There was a core group (including myself) that has experienced winning and losing throughout the past 5 years, and with this experience comes the composure to deal with any situation we might be in throughout a game. These acquired lessons have been preached to younger players, which made them buy into our system. Each time we’ve stuck to the system we’ve found ourselves on top.

2) You’ve been at Western for four and a half years now, how has your experience been overall? What are the highlights of your lacrosse experience?

My experience has been amazing, to say the least. The support for athletes at Western is strong, and Western is ranked as one of the top schools in Canada. This gives me assurance that I will be provided a respected degree while I pursue my athletic career. In addition to this, Western has a renowned social atmosphere that provides a great balance between academics and extracurricular activities.

In regards to my lacrosse highlights, the conclusion of each season has taught me the lessons that had contributed to success in the coming years. For my first two years, we made it the championship weekend, losing the semifinals in the first year, and in the following year losing to McGill in the finals. I believe both of those defeats fueled the fire for the three years to follow, leaving us hungrier with each proceeding win. But I honestly believe that this past championship was the most memorable. Being down by such a large margin late in the game against our rival Brock, tying it up in the final seconds and eventually winning in OT really attested to the teams calm, collected, and confident mentality. On top of winning, we did in in front of a large crowd of family and alumni in Toronto which was special.

3)  How have you grown as a leader/an athlete?

I believe with each year on this team you obtain not only skill, but knowledge about the game, and I truly believe that the knowledge has more of an impact. Throughout my term at Western, I have been coached and have played with some unbelievable people, and ensuring that I check my ego at the door is essential to my growth as an athlete/leader. Each of these individuals has achieved some great feats and are continuing to take their skills to new heights. Each year, more and more teammates are making the leap to higher levels (Jr.A, Sr.A and the NLL), and playing alongside these players makes everyone better. Furthermore, ensuring that the younger players are being held accountable for their actions and pushing them will not only improve our current team, but it will make them better leaders in the future.

4) You’ve also finished your engineering program, and now you’re in your first year of your Master’s degree. How do you find the balance between lacrosse and school in a thesis-based program?

From the beginning, I’ve been told that time management is the key to success when it comes to balancing academics and athletics in university. This truly is the case. I find that I am more productive and my grades are higher while in the lacrosse season because I am focused on those two activities and there isn’t much time for anything else. It usually takes the first year to really get in the rhythm, and I have found that with each subsequent year, I have become better at finding a balance between my academics, athletics, and social life.

Now that I am completing my first semester of graduate school, I am once again I am trying to adjust to the workload/structure unique to this program; therefore, the lessons I learned entering university have also carried over to this milestone.

5) What are your plans for after you complete your Masters? Do you plan to stay involved in lacrosse?

I haven’t thought too much about my post-grad plans too much so far, due to the fact I will be graduating in just under 2 years, but due to the field of research I am studying, the industry is fairly niche and is largely prevalent in Ontario.  This being said I would ultimately like to move back to Alberta and pursue a career in my field of mechanical engineering closer to home.

There is no question I will remain in the lacrosse community, however, I am unsure of the role I will play, whether I will continue to play or I will transition to a mentorship role instead.

6) If you could give one piece of advice to an incoming freshman playing CUFLA, what would you tell them?

I would reiterate the message I was given when entering university, ensure that they set their priorities straight and manage their time effectively – get your work done first and have fun second. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, there is a lot of skill and knowledge in the CUFLA league that isn’t just limited to field lacrosse but also box lacrosse. Be willing to learn, be hungry to learn, and you will be rewarded. In university no one is holding your hand so if you want to pursue a goal and succeed, the tools are at your disposal, but you have to want to use them

The Vimy lacrosse family enjoyed catching up with Nikoli, and we are all proud of what he had done in his athletics and academics. We will be watching in the coming season to see if the Western Mustangs can win the Baggataway Cup for the 4th year in a row! Good luck, Nik!