In May 2016, the lacrosse team won its first championship at Chapman’s Wilson Stadium, ending an undefeated season. Two years later, Wiley Bonham transferred to Chapman from Loyola University Maryland as a sophomore. During his first season with Chapman, Bonham was thrown into the same championship atmosphere when the Panthers took on Michigan State University in May 2018.
“It was really cool seeing all the cameras and equipment set up around the field and all the attention being on the game,” Bonham said. “The feeling of being at the last step of the season and needing one to win it all was pretty special.”
The Panthers lost 10-8. Despite the loss, being thrown into the competitive environment in his first season at Chapman was special for Bonham. Out of 17 games that season, Bonham scored 59 goals and had 26 assists. This year, he’s had seven goals and seven assists out of three games.
Growing up, Bonham was immersed in the world of sports.
“The first time I picked up a stick was probably about three years old, and then I was on a team,” Bonham said.
Bonham attended Monte Vista High School in Danville, California. At 6 feet, 4 inches tall, Bonham took up basketball in addition to playing on the lacrosse team.
“Our high school took basketball very seriously. All the kids on the team were strictly basketball players,” Bonham said.
Bonham, the only basketball team member who played an additional sport, said his teammates knew lacrosse was his priority.
“I felt a part of the team like anyone else,” Bonham said.
During 2016, Bonham’s senior year, the Monte Vista Mustangs’ lacrosse team went on to win their fifth North Coast Section CIF championship. After high school, Bonham attended Loyola University Maryland to play lacrosse, but said he felt uncomfortable being far from the West Coast.
“I just didn’t like the East Coast as much as California. The lacrosse team was fun, and playing all the big schools was really cool, but I wanted to be happier as a person,” Bonham said.
After hearing about Chapman from a family friend, Bonham reached out to head coach Dallas Hartley. Bonham’s friend and now-teammate, junior Parker Halaburda, helped him contact the Chapman team.
“I was talking to him and telling him how I didn’t want to go back to Loyola,” Bonham said. “He talked (Chapman) up and gave me the coach’s information.”
On Feb. 22, the men’s lacrosse team played Georgia Institution of Technology at home. Chapman lost 12-11. Bonham scored twice that night while adding four assists.
In addition to his lacrosse talent, head coach Dallas Hartley said Bonham has stepped up as a leader.
“He’s tall, fast, hard shot and he’s got nice athletic movement. He’s turning into a good leader for us,” Hartley said. “He has an ability to get to good places on the field to put pressure on the defense.”
Bonham said he believes the team has potential, but young team members and the fact that “everyone is still trying to get their feet under them” leaves room for improvement.
“It’s a little tough right now and that’s why we are having those growing pains. We will figure it out … our ultimate obstacle is ourselves, in the end,” Bonham said.