One on One With: Jeremy Noble

I got the pleasure of speaking with Jeremy Noble #35 from the Denver Outlaws about his love of lacrosse; his life; moments in his career from the time he started playing lacrosse and up to the MLL Championship game; and what he gives back to the lacrosse community.

What made you decide to play lacrosse and were there any other sports that you played when you were growing up.  He said:

“It was definitely my father’s influence that got me into the game of lacrosse.  He started playing when he was a young and put myself and my brother in it at a young age. Obviously I think every mother is a bit worried and skeptical when their babies start playing this rough and tough game, but it’s funny, it came full circle and our Mom is probably our biggest supporter along with our Dad. But she’s changed roles and now her and Dad are our biggest fans.

Up in Orangeville, it’s such a popular sport and it had a major influence in me playing lacrosse.  What you usually do in Orangeville is play lacrosse during the summer and hockey during the winter.  That was pretty much what all the kids in my home town did.  I played hockey for a while, but then I had to decide which way I wanted to go. I probably could have gone on to play some hockey, but lacrosse is my passion so that’s the way I decided to go.”

So, did you always play midfield or were there other positions you played?

“All through high school I took face-offs and played attack at The Hill Academy for Brodie Merrill.  It was an interesting year at DU.  I played offensive midfield for the first couple of years, and took wing off face-offs all four years; but the last two years, especially my senior year I became a two way player and honestly I don’t think there’s a better person in the world to learn how to be a two way player than Coach Brown.  He coaches offense, he coaches defense so both of those guys really helped me develop my game my senior year.

Then when I got to the Outlaws, their offense was really, really good.  I think something that helped me was being able to play a little bit of defensive midfielder and help push some transitions, so I was able to get into some games with the Outlaws where I was able to play some defensive midfield and push the ball up the field.  So it’s good to be a versatile player because there are so many different things you can do out there on the field.”

We talked about Team Canada as well.  Jeremy had this to say:

“When I got to Team Canada, I had learned so much from Brownie at DU that playing at attack “X” position was like sort of like playing in high school.  He’s such a great coach, I think I had a pretty easy job, but I also had a tough job playing at “X” for Team Canada behind the net, but when you have some of the best shooters in the world with Adam Jones; Curtis Dickson; Kevin Crowley; Jordan Hall and all the other players, I actually think I had it pretty easy because all I had to do was get them the ball and they were going to score the goal.  It didn’t matter if I was putting up the points; I was just doing the best job I could to hopefully help the team win.”

So tell me about being one of the Team Captains at DU.  I had read an article about you when the team was struggling and you as one of the captains, asked for a team meeting with just the players.  What kinds of things do you feel made you a good Team Captain; and what things did you do to motivate the team?

“Well there were a lot of things.  In my lacrosse career I’ve been blessed to be around a lot of very good coaches, and very good players.  But I think how you become a leader is you learn from a lot of people around you and how you approach the players.  An example would be Brodie Merrill and the chance to have him as my coach in high school, then just mentor me all the time and just learn the way.  You just take bits and pieces of what you learn from the different players around you, many of which are very established players.  I’m a big believer in to lead by example.  I’m a vocal leader, so pretty much when we had that meeting we were coming up against a stretch of games against Notre Dame; California; Penn State; and Ohio State.  So in a matter of ten days we had a pretty tough schedule.  I think what I did was give everyone confidence, and I guaranteed to the players in the locker room that we were going to win those games.  I think me with my confidence and belief in the team really helped with that.  We had a lot of young guys on the team at the time, and I needed to show them my leadership and confidence on the field and that really helped.”

At DU you earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications.  So what are you doing in the off season?  I noticed that you are a coach for Denver Elite Lacrosse.  Is there anything else in the works?

“That’s correct, I am coaching for Denver Elite, but I’m also interviewing for two different jobs, jobs that will keep me busy during the off-season.  For now and through December 22, I’m coaching every single day.  I love coaching and giving back to the game not only for the players, but to help them grow as people.  I coach with Coach Tierney; Coach Brown; Trevor Tierney; John Orsten; Scott and Kenny Crowley, so it’s a great group that I’m able to coach with and I’m still learning a lot from those guys not only from the coaching aspect, but also the leadership aspect.”

So what are the age groups of the players you are coaching?

“It varies.  I coach from fifth to sixth grade all the way up to freshman in high school.  There’s all different ages that I like to deal with, but there’s this one group that I’ve coached for the past three years that are now freshman in high school and I’ve stuck with them for the entire time.  It’s been such a satisfying role in my life watching these kids grow up in front of me and see how they mature as kids and players, and getting to know their parents.”

How was it being drafted by the Outlaws this year and what things did you learn going from the collegiate level to the professional level?

“Obviously it’s a dream come true getting drafted no matter what.  When your little and growing up in Canada playing lacrosse, to hear your name being called in the draft is a humbling experience and a dream come true.  The transition in going from NCAA to the professional level is not too big, the games are a little quicker with the shot clock; players are bigger and faster; and you really have to hold yourself accountable playing professional lacrosse.  In college, you’re practicing every single day; and working out three or four times a week, but when you get to professional lacrosse you do a quick shoot around on a Friday night, then you play on Saturday.  So I think if you want to be a successful professional lacrosse player, you have to hold yourself to a higher standard and be accountable.  You have to make sure you’re at the gym every single day because even though you’re not getting paid to go to the gym, it’s something you have to do to get you ready for game days every single weekend.  If you don’t you’re going to get lost in the mix and people are going to outwork you and you’re going to lose your spot very quickly.  It just shows you what kind of person you are.  You have to hold yourself accountable; you have to lead yourself; you have to be in the weight room every day to make sure you are sharp for the weekends.”

Tell me about the FIL World Championships and playing for Team Canada.  What is the process when you’re trying out for a team?

“It starts off with putting in an application of where you’ve played lacrosse; as well as where you’re living now.  Then they go through the applications to see if they want you to try out.  There was that one weekend in Buffalo when we had the scrimmage.  You go in there playing your best; be in the best shape possible; just as you do when you try out for any team; do all the right things; and it’s how you portray yourself.  You’re going to make mistakes, it’s how you react when you make those mistakes; and it’s not just about how you are on the field, it’s also how you portray yourself when you’re off the field.  Then they pick the best players who they feel will be the best fit for the team and on the field.”

So how did it feel to defeat Team USA in the championship game at the FIL?

“It was unbelievable, especially as a 22 year old being a young guy, and there were so many guys on the team that I dreamed about playing with, or I have played with before, so being a part of that team was just incredible.  I was saying to someone “If I don’t even get to play one single shift on the team, I am so happy just to be on this team, and so humbled to be out there with so many good players”, to be out there and learn from Brodie Merrill; Geoff Snider; Jordan Hall; Zack Greer, guys that have been through it before and teaching us young guys.  There were a lot of young guys on this team, a lot of guys who had never played in a World Championship and just to be on the team and learn from those guys was just incredible.  I still look at my Gold Medal every single day and realize just how fortunate I am to have been a part of that team and such a great group of people; and obviously to beat the U.S. was great.  They had a fantastic squad, but it was one game and anything can happen.  That was the crazy thing, we didn’t have any training camps before, we had five days of practice before the games, and we said that as long as we get better every single day and come together as a team, hopefully we’ll be there at the end and have a shot to win it.  

Having the games in Denver was a dream come true.  This has been my home town for the last four or five years, and to be able to win it in Denver in front of my friends and family, to win beside my brother, not many players get to experience that at the age of 22 with their twin brother.”

So was it hard playing against two of your teammates from the Outlaws, Lee Zink and Jesse Schwartzman?

“Yeah it was tough, but I think once you put on your country’s colors, it doesn’t matter who’s on the other side.  I’m sure there were guys on Team Canada who were bothered by playing against their teammates, but once you put on that jersey you’re representing your country and you come together pretty quick.  Playing against Lee and Jesse was awesome, and we were still teammates afterwards, but having to play against those guys added a little extra incentive because you want those bragging rights over those guys, but it was fun.  It was definitely a humbling experience and something I will never forget.”

How was it playing in the first ever home-field semi-final playoff game against the New York Lizards?  What was going through your mind with the score going back and forth throughout the game, knowing that you had to win the game to advance to the MLL Championship game?

“First of all, playing at DU Stadium was incredible.  Once my college career ended, somehow DU always finds itself back my way.  Obviously with the World Championships practicing at DU was huge, then having the home game there at DU against the Lizards that is a place that I’m just so comfortable in.  That game going back and forth was such a fun game, there was a great crowd, but when it came down to the end and you put the ball in John Grant Jr.’s stick, which we talked a little bit about how we were going to do a little pick with John and I, and I asked him what do you want to do here, he said “Let’s just play”.  It’s such a funny thing, he’s such a veteran, he’s been there before so many times in his career, it wasn’t like he was set up exactly, he just kept saying “Let’s just go play”, which is such a veteran and leadership move.  I think for someone like myself who was such a young player that was huge.  The score was tied, we had 1:52 left on the clock and to hear him say that was remarkable, then making that pass in the end for that lay up goal by Sieverts, you couldn’t have asked for a better end to the game.  The fans were into it, and to win that game and get us to the finals was remarkable.”

So being a rookie in the MLL how was it to advance to the MLL Championship game?

“I was just very fortunate to be on such a great team; a great organization with so many great players, the coaching staff, all the way to the management; the people behind the scenes, the trainers, people like that.  Just to be a part of this team, coming in as a rookie to contribute in whatever way I could, come in and do anything was awesome.  Obviously being a rookie was a little bit different than being at DU, because you’re the guy picking up the ball, moving the nets and there’s always an adjustment when you’re coming from a team where you’re a senior captain, and then being a rookie again, you have to make sure you’re doing all the right things.  I don’t think I could have asked for a better year playing for the Outlaws, it was great.”

What kinds of things do you enjoy during the off season?

“Snowboarding; attending Broncos games; hanging out with two of my great friends from DU, Jamie Faus and Cole Nordstrom; and coaching youth lacrosse.”

Tell us about the fund raiser you’re doing, auctioning off your 2015 Outlaws autographed helmet for Children’s Hospital.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for the last three or four weeks.  I’ve had that helmet sitting around and obviously the holidays are coming up, and unfortunately I’ve had some people who were very close to me pass away, kids that I knew from when I was playing at The Hill Academy and I felt like I wanted to do something for myself to honor not only those kids but other kids with heart problems as well. So anything I can do to raise some money, it means a lot to me giving something back and it’s going to the Children’s Hospital of Colorado Foundation. I’m always giving away equipment to kids who need equipment or auctioning stuff off.  It was something that made me feel good as well for the Outlaws organization.  It’s surpassed my expectations, we started the bidding at $135.00 I expected to only raise about $200.00 or $250.00 that I could donate, but it’s already up to $455.00 so being able to donate that to the Children’s Hospital Heart Foundation I’m beyond excited that I’ve been able to raise that much money for this helmet. Hopefully it will be a good Christmas present for some kid who will hopefully get it for Christmas.  Sometimes people don’t realize how fortunate and blessed they are, and this is going towards a good cause and that’s the main thing.”

If you are interested in bidding on Jeremy’s helmet, copy and paste this link on EBay:  Bidding ends Monday December 15, 2014.

My final question to Jeremy was what his best memory was since he started playing lacrosse.

“Well, that’s a tough one because I have so many, but I think it would have to be winning the World Championship game with Team Canada.  My brother, myself and Brodie Merrill were all wearing numbers for teammates who had passed away and after we won, we looked up at the sky, then looked at one another and said “We did it”.  Brodie Merrill has one been one of the biggest influences in my life and when I looked at him and the smile on his face and the smile on my face, we both already had our gear off before the game was over, and when the refs blew the whistle, we looked at each other again, knowing that we had been so through so much together, he’s been one of the biggest influences in my life, he was my coach in high school, then jumping into his arms is something I’ll never forget.  There were so many great people surrounding us, and the people up there in Heaven, having my parents in the crowd, it’s something I will never forget.”

I want to thank Jeremy for taking the time to speak with me on behalf of In Lacrosse We Trust and sharing his life story to us as fans of not only the game of lacrosse, but fans of Jeremy Noble as well.