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.
Like most of us, Jay Thorimbert’s regular routine was upset by COVID-19.
“You learn who has children in your office pretty quickly,” the New York Riptide defenseman says of his now standard Zoom meetings. His own children can often be heard chattering away in the background. He splits childcare duties with his wife Jodi, to support her work as a nurse on the front lines in St. Catharines, Ontario.
When schools are closed, Thorimbert helps his son Owen, 6, with online classes, although his three-year-old daughter Nora has been able to continue attending her nursery school throughout the pandemic.
Working from home helped his work-life balance, saving him from a 45-minute commute each way, giving him more time with the kids at breakfast and bedtime. It was a “mad scramble” pre-pandemic, but Thorimbert has enjoyed the opportunity to slow down and savour those moments with his kids.
Sometimes it’s a struggle to get Owen to commit to sitting in front of the computer for hours a day, though.
“You have your good weeks and your bad weeks where he’s into it all day and sometimes he just won’t do it.”
The time also allows Thorimbert more time to train for the upcoming season in the home gym he built.
He is one of the NLL’s most reliable faceoff men, consistently scoring very near or over .500, even getting as high as .659 in 2014-15 with the Buffalo Bandits where he spent six years of his 12-year career.
In 2021-22, he’ll suit up for the New York Riptide after being acquired in a trade with Rochester during the 2020 Entry Draft. He hasn’t played a game with the Riptide yet, but he’s going to be one of the most popular guys in the locker room.
Thorimbert is a financial analyst for Andrew Peller Ltd., one of the biggest wine companies in Canada. It’s based out of nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake, better known as Canada’s wine country. The company sells a litany of wines and beer throughout Canada and the United States including the Wayne Gretzky Estates brand.
“Nobody on New York has asked yet, but yeah, I’ve definitely had teammates try and hit me up for discounts before,” he chuckles.
Thorimbert’s first year in the NLL was 2008-09, right out of college. He’s been with Andrew Peller for even longer.
“It was my summer job in university,” he says. “I started cutting grass at the properties here in NOTL and once I graduated I started looking for something more in line with my degree, which was finance and economics at the University of Guelph.”
Thorimbert creates pricing for new products based on costs and potential profits and gets to see those products in all their stages of development.
“Basically, asking if the pricing makes sense with what we’re spending,” he explains. “Alcohol is interesting. Everything’s a problem you’re trying to solve. I love seeing a product succeed in the marketplace.”
He pauses, and adds “Gretzky’s got ties to the lacrosse world, right? We’ve got to get him in the NLL somehow.”
Thorimbert likes his role because it’s a family-owned business.
“Even though it’s a publicly traded company it very much has a family feel. My colleagues will ask how the team is doing; they want me to do well. It’s a pleasure to be there.
“You can get pretty good deals on wine and whisky, too,” he says, the cheeky grin obvious in his voice.
NLL teams become families, and he agrees that several important skills transfer between the two roles.
“Leadership, initiative and teamwork. In both scenarios you’re working as part of a team and working towards one goal. I’m more of a workhorse at both, rather than, say, a marketer who gets the praise for a catchy campaign or a player who scores the game-winning goal.”
From his days as a rookie and a recent graduate, Thorimbert is now a family man living his dream. It’s been nice to have the extra time at home with Jodi and his kids, and to repay her for all her support when he travels for lacrosse, often depending on both of their families for assistance.
“The family support has been there from day one,” he said. “I’m lucky I can support my family and also have the opportunity to play the sport I love for as long as I can. And if I ever get bored at the office I can always go slash some people later on.”
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