The Toronto Rock paid homage to one of their own at Friday night’s home opener, with a touching pre-game ceremony for the late Terry Sanderson, the team’s general manager who passed away in November. Standing among his teammates while forming the shape of a T on the floor was Terry’s son Josh, who leads the NLL in scoring with 26 points after three games.
At 37, Sanderson is considered one of the league’s older players, who might coming to the twilight of his playing days. His 18 years in the NLL have been spent largely with his father, who was coach or GM of four teams Josh played on in Calgary, Albany, and Toronto (twice). Losing a parent is hard, but it’s made even harder for those adults whose parents are still a part of their daily lives. In addition to the Rock, Terry and Josh worked together at Sanderson’s Source for Sports in Orangeville, where the now legendary lacrosse family is from.
Sanderson told the Toronto Star on Thursday that despite his father’s passing, he isn’t trying to play for him, only to do the things on the floor that his father taught him growing up, playing the game he’s always loved the way he’s always played, with hard work. At 5’7 and 160 lbs, Sanderson isn’t the typical size for a lacrosse player, but he’s always noticeable on the floor with his spectacular passing and shooting abilities. In 257 career games, he’s amassed 1297 points, meaning he scores at a pace of approximately five points a game.
In only three games so far, Sanderson has picked up four goals and 22 assists. While the goal total is low, the assist total speaks to how well Sanderson reads his teammates and how much of a leader he is on the floor.
Teammate Brock Sorensen, who is new to the Rock this season, has already noticed how special a player Sanderson is.
“Shooter is a guy that is so knowledgeable about the game,” Sorensen said. “He sees the floor very well, with an ability to see what the next play is before it actually happens. He isn’t a big guy but that certainly doesn’t hold him back from shying away from any situations.”
Sanderson learned from his father to be a good teammate. After 18 years in the league, he has turned into a true leader.
“Josh is a very strong leader and a guy who has been around the game at the highest level for a long time,” Sorensen observed. “The Rock have many great leaders, but when Josh speaks you can guarantee that he has everyone’s attention.”
Some of the league’s best players are its veterans, like John Grant Jr., John Tavares, and the recently retired Tracey Kelusky. Will Josh Sanderson keep up his scoring pace through the remaining games of 2015? He’s certainly capable of doing so. Whether he does or he tapers off, his father will always be proud of him, and will always be on his team.