When the Warriors took the floor last weekend against the Calgary Roughnecks, two of the NLL’s longest-tenured players were on the turf and made substantial contributions to the game’s result.
In his age-35-season debut, Ian Hawksbee collected an assist and scooped up six loose balls in the Warriors come-from-behind victory. 33-year-old goaltender Aaron Bold made 43 stops including the final 10 shots from the Roughnecks in the 4th quarter and overtime.
A sturdy defender, Hawksbee, has spent a lot of time in this league. He was initially drafted by the NLL’s original Vancouver lacrosse club in 2004, the Vancouver Ravens, but has played the role of journeyman before returning to play for Vancouver in 2016.
Coincidentally, the man in between the posts for the Warriors, Bold, who was drafted in 2005, is a former teammate of Hawksbee’s from back in the day.
Long before the Stealth moved to Vancouver before the 2014 season, the franchise was stationed in San Jose, California. It was during their 2007 season that Hawksbee and Bold were first introduced to each other.
“It’s funny,” Hawksbee said. “[Bold] is a B.C. boy and I’m from Ontario, but I’ve been out in B.C for 15 to 16 years now. It’s funny how things have come full-circle — me coming to the end of my career and him entering the prime of his — but the chance to get to play together again and build off the friendships we made in 2007 is a really cool opportunity and we both look forward to the challenges of this year.”
The game has changed immensely since that 2007 season. Not only in the style of the game but the way that players prepare for match-ups.
“When you look at the last 8 years, or even less than that, game film wasn’t really a thing or it wasn’t around at all,” Bold said. Now everyone has it and it’s a huge part of how I prepare.”
The game and league are barely recognizable from where it was a decade ago, and many would tell you that the progress has been positive. For players like Bold and Hawksbee, it takes a special type of preparation every year, every week, even every play to be able to perform at high-level for as long as they have.
“Preparing mentally is as important as the preparing physically,” Hawksbee said. “When I was younger, I never really thought about those things until you get taught by some of the older guys. Like for me Jim Moss and a couple other great leaders off the top of my head like Curtis Hodgson. To mentally prepare myself for each season, I read a book called “Gym”. It helps you refocus and recenter yourself for the battles and struggles of the whole season and putting your body through that type of process.”
While Hawksbee and Bold have been able to endure the physicality of the game for so many years, many players have started and finished their careers within the span that they’ve been sticking it out. For Bold, seeing the next generation of players rise up through the ranks brings pride and nostalgia to his heart.
“I think it’s awesome,” Bold said of watching Calgary Roughnecks goaltender Christian Del Bianco grow into his role as an elite goaltender. “I don’t know him personally but he’s a very athletic goaltender. He reminds me of a Dallas Eliuk but with a different stance. He’s very athletic, he can pass the ball. It’s awesome to see young goaltenders come up in this league. That’s what we need for saturation; I’m only going to be able to play for so long. I’m trying to mentor the next group of goaltenders coming into the league.”
“It’s refreshing. It almost gives me the memories of myself in those young years trying to make a name for myself.”
Warriors fans should be grateful this holiday season that the team has strong, impressive and finely-aged talent on the roster like Bold and Hawksbee. Few fans get to see players perform at such a consistently high-level like those two do. Here’s to many more years of continued success!
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