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Brayden Laity, Owen Grant Exemplify What It Means to be a Warrior

In successful rookie NLL campaigns, defensive duo Brayden Laity and Owen Grant have been a tough young tandem on the back end. 

The Warriors’ veteran defensive core makes for a great learning environment for these two rookies and they’ve been soaking up as much information from their teammates and coaching staff. 

Warriors’ General Manager and Head Coach Curt Malawsky says they’re focused, ask the right questions, watch film, and try to be the best version of themselves which is inspiring to see from young pros. Even after a handful of games this season, they started to develop a better understanding of expectations and what it takes to be successful in the league. 

“Brayden’s only 20 and the way he carries himself off the floor is exceptional. We do our fitness tests during the week and his numbers are at the top of the charts for a 20-year-old. He exemplifies what a Warrior is which is selfless and impeccable work ethic and amazing compete level,” Malawsky said. “For OG, we talk about trying to model your franchise around certain guys, he’s definitely a cornerstone of the franchise for years and years to come.” 

Malawsky coached Laity when he was 10 years old, giving the nod that Laity’s always had a blue-collar work ethic.  

“Both very athletic and have good game sense on the back end when it comes to making the right play. They also have excellent anticipation and an inept ability to read the play.” 

“There’s no entitlement, they go out and play every shift like it’s their last…you can talk about their individual stats from a defensive standpoint, which have been good, but I think for them it’s all about the team and that’s what we love about them,” Malawsky said. 

OG and Laity are in the top five rookie standings for loose balls collected and shots blocked, and Grant is leading all rookies in forced turnovers so far this season. Both are 6’3” and around 200-pounds, have a fearless, aggressive style of play and an incredible will to win. Between Malawsky’s philosophy and their teammates behind them, Laity doesn’t think twice about going after a loose ball. 

“Knowing guys like Suby (Jackson Suboch) and Beersy (Matt Beers) are out there having my back is nice,” Laity said. 

The 23-year-old Grant says the system the coaching staff has implemented helps the defensive group make plays to be able to create turnovers and be the first ones to loose balls. 

The teammates are defensive powerhouses, but with their speed, they like to push the ball up the floor and have the stamina to get up there after a tough shift on defense. 

“Owen and I are both guys that want to push transition up the floor, so I think we do a good job of putting ourselves in a position to score. Obviously, defense comes first, that’s our main priority out there but it is nice to get those opportunities to score because it’s fun,” he said. 

In a historic night for the Warriors in Philadelphia, Laity scored his first goal in the 21-12 win over the Wings. He’s had scoring changes throughout the season, so he said it’s a relief to get the first one out of the way and he said seeing his teammates flood the floor to congratulate him was a special moment. 

“That was awesome. That was more exciting than the goal itself. It shows how far we’ve grown as a team coming together here from the start of the year to now,” Laity said. “You can see we’re coming together as a group here and it kind of speaks to us playing for one another and it was nice to see the guys get excited for me.” 

Scoring his first goal in Philly meant he couldn’t really enjoy a post-game celebration with the rest of his 21-and-older teammates. 

“It sucks being 20 in the states after you score your first goal. It was kind of disappointing that I didn’t get to go out with the team, but luckily, I do have some great teammates in Kirkness, Charbonneau and Kalinich who stayed back with me and we hung out and watched some TV in the lobby instead,” he said.  

He earned himself Week 17 NLL Rookie of the Week also collecting seven loose balls and picking up two caused turnovers against Philly.  

“I was working when the news came out, so I wasn’t really on my phone and then I looked after and saw a flood of text messages. It was a pretty cool experience, can check that off the bucket list for sure,” the young defender shared. 

Laity thought Grant actually had the better game, (scoring a goal, collecting four loose balls, two forced turnovers and two blocked shots) and he says it’s great how they support each other and can share these moments in their rookie seasons.  

From Week 1 until now, they are both feeling more comfortable seeing how their situational awareness has grown. For Laity, with one year of Junior ball left, he says it’s been a big learning curve from the skill level to the play structure, but he’s feeling more confident.  

He’s keen on ultimately being able to play on top of the defense and has been trying to learn everything he can from Ryan Dilks in that regard.  

“I’m watching film on how Dilks conducts his play. I’m on Mydske’s line and for the last couple weeks he’s been helping me after every play tweaking little things here and there in practice and then every now and then we’ll stay and do some extra reps together. We’re building that chemistry still and it’s great to be learning from the best like Dilks, Beersy and Mydske,” Laity said. 

There’s been a lot to learn, but they’re loving it and having a lot of success to boot. Their skills are proven at the pro level and as OG and Laity continue to learn their roles in the NLL, they’ll continue to get better. 

“For them, the expectation and the bar is set and they know what they know now, and I think that lets them be a little freer and be a little more relaxed,” Malawsky said. “Over time, being able to be around the league and play in the league gives you confidence. We always say confidence is a byproduct of preparation and they prepare themselves very well and our system prepares them for what’s going to happen and gives them that confidence.” 

Vancouver Warriors