In the words of famed-Canadian rapper Drake, “Started from the bottom now we’re here.” That’s a feeling that any rookie has experienced as soon as they’ve been drafted onto a professional sports team.
The journey of starting from the bottom has begun again now that these first-year players are in the NLL. For the newly drafted Warriors, they will have to shed a few more tears, spill a little more blood, and put in thousands of more hours of hard work to prove they can compete at this level.
It was even a surprise to GM Dan Richardson when he got the call to come on board. He had always hoped that he would get an opportunity at this level to show what he is capable of in the front office.
“This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a while,” Richardson said. “So, when the opportunity presented itself, it was like, ‘Wow! Sure, I’ll take it.’
Getting that call to play in the NLL isn’t a sure thing for most players, including the Warriors newest draftees still on the roster: Nate Wade, Dallas Wade, Jean-Luc Chetner and Travis Burton.
“It was very stressful,” Nate said of waiting for his name to be called at the draft. “But, once I got my name called, it was a dream come true. It’s very nice to come play for a team that’s so close to home.”
The pressure on Nate was two-fold as his cousin, Dallas Wade, was also waiting for his name to be called. Both waited patiently while they saw dozens of players walk on to the podium and join an NLL franchise. Finally with the 29th and 42nd picks in the draft, the cousins were chosen. Nate went first, followed by Dallas. Incredibly, both were being sent to Vancouver to join the Warriors.
The Wade family is rooted on Vancouver Island, so when Dallas was selected to play alongside his cousin, Nate joked that his family won’t have to choose sides of whom they should support.
“It was great. Now they can finally be civil,” Nate said. “Seriously, it’s great because now the whole family can pack in one or two cars and come watch us. I also used to play with [Dallas] when we were younger, so it’ll be nice to be on the same team again.”
Other Warriors’ rookies will be looking to make their mark as well. Defenseman Travis Burton is determined to make an instant impact on the squad.
“I feel that us being rookies and being young, that we have a chip on our shoulder,” Burton said. “I’m a big, strong defender and I like to be tough when I need to be, and I think the other guys will step up when they need to.”
The Warriors will hope that Burton can be as imposing and disruptive of a player just like Matt Beers was during his inaugural season with the organization in 2010.
In his first season, Beer scooped up 90 loose balls. His total was the third-most by a defenseman on the team that season. Since then, he has arguably become the team’s most valuable asset when it comes to forcing turnovers.
Warriors head coach Chris Gill believes in his up-and-coming youngsters but wants them to work hard and prove their worth to this team.
“Everyone needs to fall in place,” Gill said. “They need to play hard, disciplined lacrosse. They have to come out with energy and with a purpose. A lot of our young guys are going to be on that back-end, so they’ve got to be able to play tough, hard-nosed defence and play with each other.”
If one of the remaining rookies can follow through and provide coach Gill with what he’s expecting, maybe, just maybe, one of the Warriors rookies can win NLL Rookie of the Year.
Only two players have won that coveted award in franchise history: Ryan Boyle in 2005 and Rhys Duch in 2009.
A strong showing from all of the rookies this season could be the difference between a playoff appearance or an early vacation for the Warriors in a very competitive Western Division.
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