Reliable. Selfless. Playmaker. Multi-dimensional. 100 percent committed.
These are only a handful of words and phrases that describe Colorado Mammoth transition player Joey Cupido aside from his distinctive burst of speed down the floor. Agility is only a fraction of what makes the 24-year-old from Hamilton, Ontario unique as an athlete, and he has even utilized it beyond the game of lacrosse on the gridiron.
At 5’10” and 175 lbs., Cupido played as a star defensive back at McMaster University in Hamilton from 2010-14, where his quick feet contributed to a dominant Marauders squad when it wasn’t lax season.
“I’ve always been one of the smaller guys on every team I’ve been on, but also one of the fastest,” Cupido said. “I came in there and got an opportunity to play. Spring camp my first year, I made an impression with the coaches. I started for five years, our team won three championships. I got a couple All-Canadian rings, and had a pretty good run there, I am fortunate and lucky.”
He credits his success on the field to being a multi-sport athlete growing up, taking aspects from each game to become a greater threat on defense.
“Anticipation, timing, and experience are big things,” he said. “A lot of the ways I play defensive back, you see on the lacrosse field in picking off passes. I sit in the middle and bait the other players. They feed off of each other, all the skills and attributes, but definitely the biggest thing is the mental game.”
It’s also helped Cupido become one of the most recognizable names on the Mammoth roster, and a fan favorite to boot. His number 82 streaking down the floor on transition is reminiscent to the early days in Denver, when Josh Sims’ number 4 rushed towards the opposing net in similar fashion.
Cupido’s 2015 campaign is shaping to be a breakout season for the former fifth-round selection in the 2011 NLL Draft, as he currently leads all defensive players in goals, short-handed goals, points, turnovers and caused turnovers. With numbers like that, it’s no surprise he was named to the 2013 NLL All-Rookie Team, where he became the first player in a decade drafted in the fifth round or later to receive the honor.
But all those rankings and accomplishments are just words and numbers on paper to Cupido though.
“I just work as hard as I can and try to do whatever my team needs me to,” he said. “Battle hard for loose balls, force some turnovers in the back end and create some offense if I can. I don’t really focus on one asset of my game, I do a little bit of everything and whatever my team needs me to do.”
He’s loved every minute of being a Mammoth player, from being drafted to first dawning the black and burgundy in his first start in 2012. But good luck trying to pick his brain for just one lasting memory.
“I’ve got a million of them,” he laughed. “My favorite game or two here is our (2015) home opener against Calgary, coming back and winning in overtime. I scored the tying goal to help us out. The biggest and most fun I can remember is beating Edmonton last year when they were undefeated on Fan Appreciation Night. The crowd was amazing and we played so good as a team.”
As one of the fastest players in the league, Cupido is not a “stay-at-home” type player by any means. But thankfully for Mammoth fans, it appears that he’s here to stay in Colorado.
“We have the best fans in the league,” he said. “We have a great organization and great teammates and coaches and I couldn’t be happier where I am right now.”
By Nick Salen (@MammothBeat) for NLL.com. Photo by Dale MacMillan.