In 1992, Gatorade created one of the most iconic commercials in history. The moment after the 60-second ad went off the airwaves, it seemed everyone wanted to be like Mike.
When Michael Jordan eventually retired from basketball (for good) in 2003, a fresh-faced Marshall Powless was only three years old. It didn’t take him many more years to figure out who he wanted to be. Although, he never wanted to be like Mike; he wanted to be like his older brother, Johnny Powless, who is seven years Marshall’s senior
“All I ever wanted was to be like Johnny,” Marshall said. “Putting up points, playing the whole time and then having a good time in the NLL, that’s all I ever wanted to do.”
Growing up, that meant playing lacrosse like Johnny. Marshall, as well as the youngest of the three Powless brothers, Sidney, would take every advantage they could to learn Johnny’s skills by playing alongside him in their backyard.
“We would always be outside practicing and playing, working on … a lot of situational stuff,” Johnny said. “It was good because I’d see what they would want to do, and then I’d throw in my little bit of experience.”
There was never any pressure to play professional lacrosse. However, it was always part of the Powless brother’s lives since their father put them into lacrosse so they could simply play and have fun.
But when Johnny’s Ontario Jr. A Lacrosse League experience earned him a shot in the NLL, a hobby quickly became a career, and it proved to Marshall and Sidney that something as fun as lacrosse could reap serious rewards.
As Johnny’s NLL-career blossomed, so did Marshall’s Jr. career. He kept trying to emulate his older brother’s play as he entered Jr. B. In 2014 while with the Jr. Knighthawks, Marshall even chose to wear the same #93 jersey just like Johnny wore as a member of the NLL’s Knighthawks.
Eventually playing for the Wallaceburg Red Devils and then the Six Nations Rebels, Marshall did his best to show why he and Johnny should be the latest brotherly duo to play in the NLL. It should be noted that during Marshall’s Jr. B-career, he played alongside Sidney during some of these years.
In 2019, something extraordinary happened. Johnny and Marshall united on the floor in the Sr. B President’s Cup and helped propel their team, the Six Nations Rivermen, to a title. Marshall scored one of the team’s nine goals, while Johnny collected a hat trick, thanks to his brother, who fed him the ball for his third score.
After amassing 84 points in 2018, he nearly doubled that total in 2019, compiling an indisputably impressive OJBLL-best – by 33 points – 151 points, Marshall earned his shot at an NLL-career.
So, when the seventh pick in the 2020 NLL Entry Draft was announced, there was not a great deal of surprise when the Saskatchewan Rush selected Marshall. Marshall was surrounded by many loved ones that evening, including his parents, grandfather, his girlfriend, and, of course, Johnny and Sidney. He wouldn’t have had it any other way; It’s always been family first for Marshall and the Powless’.
What he didn’t realize, though, was that by becoming a first-round selection in this year’s draft, he and Johnny made history. They became only the third pair of Iroquois brothers to be selected in the opening round of an NLL Draft – Miles and Lyle Thompson and Randy and Austin Staats are the others. Upon hearing this, it could simply be described as a dream come true for Marshall.
“Making history is something that I could only dream of doing, but making history alongside Johnny is surreal,” Marshall said. “I’ve always been family-oriented and close to my brothers, so making history with Johnny is mind-blowing. It’s crazy how it all started from my dad putting us into lacrosse as a fun hobby. We never thought this would be the outcome.”
What started as a dream nearly two decades aqo when the brothers got their first sticks, is now closer to a reality than it’s ever been. Yet, while we know that Marshall can never be Johnny, he’s become something equally as special: he’s become the best version of himself.