For almost every GTA born Lacrosse player their dream is to one day pull over the red, blue and white of the Toronto Rock. For the 2013 Major Series Lacrosse Rookie of the Year Ethan O’Connor, that dream became a reality as the Rock selected the Milton,ON native in the first round, ninth overall pick of the 2013 National Lacrosse League draft.
The Hobart College grad is an outstanding transitional player that proved to the lacrosse world that he can jump up to the big leagues as he shut down many of the world’s best players in the MSL with the Brampton Excelsiors, while also being able to contribute in the offensive zone. The 6’1 transition player found the back of the cage nine times while adding seven points for 16 points in his rookie campaign.
O’Connor was also a force on the penalty kill and solid at the face-off circle. O’Connor is also a proven winner as he won a captured a Founders Cup in 2010 with the Halton Hills Bulldogs.
“O’Connor is an absolute horse,” said Excelsiors teammate Ian Duffy. “On the floor he’s solid on defense yet he’s great in transition and on breakaways. Off the floor, you couldn’t ask for a better teammate. In a interview with ILWT’s Cameron Ferguson, Rock general manager Terry Sanderson praised Statesmen alumnus. “We’re over the hill excited about Ethan O’Connor,” said the Rock GM. “He’s a quality kid who had a great summer in Brampton, interviewed well, nothing not to like about the kid.”
I was fortunate enough to talk to O’Connor on his draft night and talk about his future with the Toronto Rock.
Q: How does it feel to get drafted into the NLL, especially your hometown team in the Toronto Rock?
A: To be drafted into the NLL is a dream come true first and foremost, but to be drafted by my home town team that I grew up watching as a kid is icing on the cake. Not only do I have the opportunity to play at the highest level of lacrosse but I get to undergo this opportunity with the direct support from family and friends. It’s a surreal feeling to be selected by the team you grew up watching win championships year in and year out and I am excited to begin working with the team to build on that legacy.
Q: If you could choose one word to describe your game, what would it be? Why?
A: If I had to describe my game I would use the word intelligent. Both with and without the ball I feel I am able to make smart decisions that are in the best interest of the team. Without the ball, I know where I am supposed to direct the man I am covering, where my help is coming from and what I should be doing off ball. With the ball, I believe I am intelligent in my decisions when it comes to knowing when to push the ball for a scoring opportunity or when to pull it out and give it to the offense.
Q: What do you need to work on to not only crack the Rock roster, but to become an impact player?
A: At this moment my biggest weakness is my size and strength. Guys in the NLL are bigger and more physical, therefore to be an impact player you need to be capable of handling every player that comes your way. Like most guys heading into camp though, I’ve taken measures to improve my weaknesses and hopefully by the time competition rolls around I can show those watching that noticeable improvements have been made.
Q: How does it feel to get the opportunity to get coached by a great defensive legend in Dan Ladoucer ?
A: I’m excited and can’t wait to start learning from Coach Ladoucer. He was a pivotal member of the Rock teams I grew up watching and one of the biggest influences on my game when I made the transition to a more defensive role in juniors. Much like my mindset going into this past summer with Brampton, I want to absorb every bit of information that is thrown my way. Coach Ladoucer has been around the league for a while and is someone I have great respect for, he will definitely be someone I look to for advice once camp begins.
Q:How did your summer prep you for the draft and your upcoming rookie season?
A: Although we did not have a successful season as a team, I believe that this past summer with Brampton was one of the most influential on my lacrosse career. I was surrounded by veteran guys like Chris Corbiel, Sandy Chapman, Mike Kirk, Dan Dawson and others who were constantly throwing advice at me or setting examples for ways to improve my game. Because of these guys and my coaches I was able to expand my role on the team as the summer progressed, which gave me valuable minutes of game experience against some of the best players in the world. As a player I think I was able to mature faster during the summer and become accustomed to a higher level of play, which I believe will aid in the upcoming competitions I’ll have while at camp with the Rock.