With the next chapter of the National Lacrosse League on the horizon for 2017, NLL.com caught up with lacrosse icon Paul Rabil after he was acquired by the Toronto Rock via trade from the New England Black Wolves last month. Check out the exclusive Q&A with Paul below as anticipation builds for the NLL’s 31st season this winter.
NLL: It’s been a few years since your previous NLL game, a playoff game with the Philadelphia Wings in May 2013. What’s new?
PR: It has been a few years. I really enjoyed playing in the NLL, learning an entirely new game that required a lot of skill development. It was a big challenge in my career, and I was lucky to learn from a lot of great players and win a championship in Washington. Since 2013, I’ve been focusing my time and energy on playing MLL, creating media, driving value to the sport through my partners, and operating the Paul Rabil Experience and Paul Rabil Foundation.
NLL: When you saw the clip of the NLL Champion’s Cup game-winning goal in the game’s final seconds by Jeff Cornwall of the Saskatchewan Rush…what did you think of that play? In your experience, how do you remain composed mentally when the ball is in your stick and you have a chance to tie or win a game in the final seconds?
PR: It was an amazing play by Jeff and [Rush goalie] Aaron [Bold]. I learned how to play the indoor game from Chris Hall, a great man who preferred playing me in a similar role as Jeff, in transition. The game and moments happen so fast that you don’t really have time to take in the moment, or fall into the pressure. At that point, I think it’s very much instinctual. Congrats to Saskatchewan. One of the most difficult things in sports can be maintaining a championship pedigree over the course of consecutive years.
NLL: On those occasions when you can find time to watch NLL action during the winter, what do you like to look for, the game within the game? Is it checking in on your friends and teammates from MLL who play NLL, is it a certain aspect of the box game?
PR: Great question. I like to watch the game to learn new skills and alternative ways to integrate indoor play to outdoor. How do these guys throw multiple fakes in tight spaces and score with less room? How are defenders predicting skip passes and interrupting schemes? What’s the most effective way to run a 3 v 2 transition? It’s an exciting game with a lot of strategy.
NLL: Thinking back on the seasons you’ve played in the NLL, aside from the obvious one of winning the Champion’s Cup with the Stealth in 2010, can you share with us a great memory that you have?
PR: When I think about my time spent in the NLL, I think about the captains I played for. Three guys stood out to me: Colin Doyle in San Jose, Jason Bloom in Washington, and Brodie Merrill in Philly. More similar to hockey than other team sports, the captains have a lot of power in the community, locker room and on the floor during the game. Each of these guys were hard working, inspiring, and committed to greatness.
NLL: We are starting to see more & more players in the college programs who come with both field and box lacrosse experience. What are some of the box lacrosse techniques that you utilize when playing field lacrosse?
PR: I’ve noticed the trend as well. It makes a ton of sense. From my time in the NLL, I learned how to be more efficient with my stick work, deceptive with my shooting, and became a more overall poised lacrosse player.
NLL: It’s hard to believe this is your ninth season of professional lacrosse! Where has the time gone? How have you seen the game evolve since your rookie season of 2008, and where do you see the game going in the future?
PR: Ha! I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to play lacrosse for these nine seasons. There’s a lot of work, preparation and luck that goes into staying mentally focused and physically healthy. I think our professional game is in a really unique position. I believe youth participation is primed for another explosion, the college game is becoming the newest target for big time AD’s, and with the advent of digital media (in particular live streaming), there are even more creative opportunities to get our game in front of lacrosse fans, fringe lacrosse fans, and general fans of sports.
The Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (TRAC) will host the Paul Rabil Experience LIVE! camp on October 1-2 for youth players at all age levels. For more information, click here.