The National Lacrosse League is home to the best box lacrosse players in the world. They are at the top of their game, put on stellar athletic performances and have diehard, competitive attitudes.
With lacrosse action suspended until the pandemic has subsided, NLL players have been missing the game fiercely. Thankfully, they have stayed busy in their day-to-day lives. They’ve spent more time with friends and family, honed different types of skills, and remained grounded during this tumultuous moment in history.
Gloves Off is a 13-installment series that peels back the layers of our athletes to uncover more about their lifestyle and personal lives, learning about their hobbies, passions and more, with the goal of making them inherently more relatable to their fans.
As an NLL fan, you might look at Curtis Dickson and see a goal scorer. A superstar. A champion.
But there’s a lot more to the Calgary Roughnecks’ veteran than being one of the most recognizable faces of the league. Dickson is a teacher. An innovator. And a new dog dad.
Dickson and his girlfriend Theresa recently welcomed Gary, a ginger cockapoo puppy, into their family.
“We’ve been dating for almost six years and she’s been bothering me to get a dog for almost six years, so I finally caved,” he chuckled. “We’re lucky that I held out for so long otherwise we wouldn’t have Gary.”
The adorable pup is so far calm and affectionate and a great companion.
“He’s also got a knack for the limelight,” Dickson said.
Gary is becoming something of a social media star (follow him on Instagram @garydickson17). Theresa started the account but Dickson admitted that he’s taken the occasional photo for it.
Dickson is also worthy of a follow, being well-known for his quick wit on Twitter. He doesn’t tweet often, but when he does it’s sure to be something as equally hilarious as it is controversial.
“I choose my spots. It’s a nice hobby when I’m bored,” he said.
Twitter is a nice way for him to stay connected with colleagues in the league, many of whom share the same humour and don’t mind the occasional chirp. But being so well-known means anyone can chime in at any time, on any topic.
“I’ll get some negative backlash, or I’ll have people tell me I’m the greatest,” he shrugs. “All walks of life will come out of the woodwork and give me their opinion and I have to take it because I’m out there giving my opinion, too. That’s the best part about it. You can make new friends; more so probably enemies.”
Dickson’s Twitter account is less a reflection of any sort of personal brand than it is just him being his authentic self. Dickson on Twitter is exactly who you’ll get in real life, too. We don’t mean he’s going to sit there and pick an argument with you for entertainment, just that you will get his tongue-in-cheek brand of self-deprecating humour. His favourite person to chirp is himself, often complaining about his old age.
In reality he’s only 32, but he says that having kids he’s coached now drafted into the NLL doesn’t make him feel any spryer.
Brett Craig of the Colorado Mammoth was the first, and he acknowledges that Dickson was a positive influence on his career.
“I don’t think my lacrosse IQ would have taken that leap without him being there because he was passing along everything that he knew to us players,” Craig says. “Not only was he an incredible mentor on the field, but he was also a role model that elevated my play as well as those around me.”
Craig was the first, but he won’t be the last.
“They’ll be coming through the woodwork pretty soon,” Dickson chuckled.
Harrison Matsuoka, a 2020 Roughnecks draft pick, will soon be teammates with his old coach.
“I coached him when I was living in Calgary and saw him go off to Stony Brook and have a great career there. Now he’s a drafted player on my team, and that makes me feel even older than I probably am.”
Though he once had designs on joining the police force, graduating with a degree in criminal justice from Delaware, Dickson is now all lacrosse all the time. He took a different track than he first expected, but coaching captured his heart along the way.
That passion led him to form Driven Lacrosse with Calgary teammate Dane Dobbie, to offer camps, clinics, coaching seminars and high level training sessions to athletes. They recently partnered with Tyler Pace’s Pro Caliber Lacrosse to form Rivals Lacrosse League, a new development league for youth based in British Columbia’s lower mainland.
Dickson relies on Dobbie for a lot of the day-to-day management of the league while Dickson provides more of the hands-on, practical experience of coaching.
“Dobbie surprised me with how smart he is. He’s a very bright business mind,” Dickson praised. “He’s been teaching me the ropes. It’s been a learning process but I’m slowly getting there.”
Dickson now resides in his hometown of Port Coquitlam (PoCo, to the locals) but when he lived in Calgary, he helped out with the Roughnecks’ school programs and helped coach with Geoff Snider’s ELEV8 lacrosse. He wants to take the skills learned there and apply them to his own company.
“We want to be able to take kids from when they’re 6-8 years old, see them grow through our program until they graduate and go off to college; to be a part of their lives for that extended period of time. Getting to work with kids, that’s my passion. You can’t be in this business if you don’t enjoy working with kids. It’s a lot of fun and getting to watch them grow and develop and seeing what they make of their lacrosse careers is one of the coolest parts about it.”
Until he can get back on the floor with the Roughnecks, Dickson is focusing on the kids – and of course, Gary.