Lacrosse has long been a sport where families thrive. Fathers and sons (and daughters, more and more these days), cousins, best friends, or brothers. Teammates become family. You don’t play the sport alone.
And for Josh Currier, family is most important. The 28-year-old from Peterborough, Ontario is half of one of 17 sets of brothers currently playing in the National Lacrosse League. He and his Saskatchewan Rush are set to face off against his brother Zach and the Calgary Roughnecks for the second time this month on Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. ET in an Alterna Cup matchup.
Calgary beat Saskatchewan just last week 14-12 in a hotly contested game at the Saddledome. Each brother scored one goal and one assist, but Zach was given first star honours for the whopping 16 loose balls he scooped up and the three caused turnovers. The season series now switches to Sasktel Centre.
How did two brothers end up playing for Western Canadian rivals? Zach was drafted in the first round by Calgary in 2017 and Josh was acquired from Philadelphia in the summer of 2020 via a trade. The two have yet to suit up for the same NLL team, though they do play together for the Major Series Lacrosse’s Peterborough Lakers during the NLL’s offseason.
Josh says he much prefers playing with his brother than against him, but competing against him has its advantages as well. And the brothers are quite competitive.
“I definitely tuck my stick in a lot tighter when Zach’s on the floor so he can’t get an over the head check in on me,” Josh says. “No matter what team I’m playing on I want to win, my competitiveness doesn’t really change.”
Although Josh and Zach are best friends now, that wasn’t always the case.
“We were so competitive when we were younger that we didn’t like each other very much,” Josh says. “We’ve grown out of that now, but it has helped and continues to help us in our career.”
The boys’ parents, Michelle Dunn and Roger Currier, agree with that statement, although Roger says it’s clear the pair are still ridiculously competitive.
“They don’t like to lose,” he explains. “You can see it on the floor still. Their mother has a hard time watching it but I think it’s awesome.”
“When Zach left home for Culver Academy in high school, they both discovered how much they missed having each other around,” Michelle says. “Their relationship changed at that point. Now they respect each other’s skills but still want to [win] when they play against each other.”
They’re competitive with their siblings, as well, but have incredibly strong bonds with both of them. Roger says that Josh and Zach fought hard with their stepbrother Andrei.
“All three of them were super competitive and none of them liked to lose. Whether it was playing driveway hockey or racing to the car to get the front seat, everything was done to win! They love each other like blood brothers. They always have each other’s backs.”
Andrei is just a year older than Josh, but Josh and Zach also have a 17-year-old half sister that they absolutely adore.
“They have a great relationship with Grace,” says Michelle. “Grace has taken her share of good-natured abuse from her brothers but always in a loving way. She has also learned how to give it back. Even as kids, Zach would play games with Grace and would never let her win. He’s driven to win, even against little kids. Despite their age differences, we’ve never doubted the love Josh and Zach have for their sister.”
Josh is just 54 weeks older than Zach, and being so close in age, they were often mistaken for twins by people who didn’t know them, although for some strange reason it’s happened more as adults.
“We started getting confused for each other a lot after we graduated University,” Josh says. “I don’t know if we started looking more alike or if it was because people hadn’t seen us in a while. I don’t think we could have ever pulled off a twin switch because Zach is nowhere near as good looking as me.”
Michelle says that as kids, the family always made sure their distinct personalities shone through and as such never dressed them alike as some parents do with kids close in age. She’s also not averse to poking fun at her kids when she can, stating that “when Zach was young, he was famous for his lack of style so I doubt we could have gotten Josh to dress the same as his brother.”
Josh and Zach are quite different. Josh says that while he likes working with his hands, Zach is the more book smart of the two. In school, Josh dabbled in communications while Zach focused on engineering. Josh always has country music on his truck, while Zach prefers the local Oldies station. When Zach picked up the guitar, Josh went for the ukulele.
But they’re similar in the best ways.
“Family bonds are important to them,” Michelle says. “They are both driven and hard workers. They’re both very respectful.”
Roger says that both boys are very passionate and that passion is what keeps them motivated.
“Zach used to struggle keeping a lid on things after a loss or a bad call,” their dad remembers. “Zach has come a long way in that department, and I am very proud of him because I know it doesn’t come easily. He wears his heart (and emotions) on his sleeve. For the most part Josh knows how to keep his emotions under wraps.”
During the pandemic, the Currier brothers spent a LOT of time together. Zach had been living in Michigan while working for Warrior Lacrosse, but the pandemic complicated things. So, Zach moved in with Josh and his girlfriend Alana and their Goldendoodle Mowgli and worked remotely.
It gave the brothers a chance to connect as adults and they cherished that time together. It’s harder now with Zach having moved to Calgary for the season so whenever they’re together they make sure to do Josh’s favourite things.
“I really enjoy dragging Zach out on the boat while I fish and he complains,” Josh says. “Aside from that we spend a lot of time with our family because it’s not often that everyone can get together.”
It’s harder for the family to attend NLL games now that both kids are playing out west and farther away. Michelle and Roger have seen the kids play in cities closest to Peterborough like Toronto, Rochester and Buffalo. Roger and the boys’ stepfather, Kevin, travelled to Calgary to watch Zach win the 2019 NLL Cup.
“It still gives me chills hearing the boys’ names announced live at a game. I wish I could be at them all,” Roger says.
Michelle has to settle for watching her boys on TSN.ca, though admits that sometimes she has to miss the end of the game because of the late start time.
But, the whole extended family gathers every Thursday in the summer to see Josh and Zach compete with the Peterborough Lakers, where they have shared three Mann Cup national championships together.
“Our Grandma Currier is [one of our biggest supporters],” Josh says. “We’re pretty sure she could be a NLL analyst, and put some to shame. We get texts from her weekly about different games and standings. During the summer MSL season she doesn’t miss a home game at the Memorial Centre.”
Josh and Zach have another important family, too. They are both part of the Warrior lacrosse family. Zach’s biggest achievement so far has been designing and helping to produce the next-gen ISO Warp Mesh, a fully customizable, weather resistant mesh that has superior hold and a smooth release.
Josh is sponsored by Warrior but doesn’t work for them.
“Maybe if they ever need a plumber,” he deadpans.
When he was signed last year, Warrior wanted to do something fun to make the announcement.
Enter the Thompson brothers. (No, not the Thompson brothers you’re thinking of.) The other lacrosse-playing Thompson brothers, Jake and Zack, who own their own production company called Bumpy Road Productions. They created a set of 10 short videos that features the boys poking fun at the challenges of competitive adult siblings living together for the first time in a while during the pandemic.
“The stuff with the Curriers and Warrior was too perfect,” says Zack Thompson. “We’d been working in filmmaking and grew up playing lacrosse and had a relationship with the Currier brothers so the videos were the first thing we thought of.”
Bumpy Road Productions does corporate work, client work, and their own documentary and fictional filmmaking, says Thompson.
Zack Thompson played lacrosse at Culver Academy with Zach Currier, and younger brother Riley Thompson played with him at Princeton. When Jake moved to Peterborough for work, he lived with the Currier family for a year, staying in Josh’s old room. Zack and Riley also currently play for the Currier’s hometown Arena Lacrosse League team, the Peterborough Timbermen. Yes, it is a small world after all.
Josh says that the Thompsons were the ones who came up with the scripts.
“They’re the funny ones. They are a very gifted family, both with lacrosse and the arts.”
Thompson says his favourite video is Episode 9, where “Josh explains how Zach became the ground ball beast he is, and how Josh takes advantage of it.” The Christmas special they released, which basically devolved into Josh tackling Zach, was also a favourite.
“They’re both pretty good actors,” Thompson continues, “but I would have to say Josh and Alana’s dog Mowgli is the best.”
You can watch the full series – we highly recommend it if you need a laugh – on YouTube.
While most of the sibling rivalry shown in the videos was for fun, neither Josh or Zach hold anything back when they face each other on the floor.
Their parents cheer for them both.
“I really just cheer for the boys personal success for those head-to-head games,” explains Roger. “It is impossible to pick sides. I want Josh to score a couple ([as long as Zach’s not on the floor]) and I want Zach to maybe chip in a goal, pick up a few loosies and not allow Josh to get the better of him.”
As a mom, Michelle has another thing to keep in mind: “I just want them both to play their best and for neither of them to get injured!”
With time winding down to make a playoff push and the Roughnecks and Rush in fifth and sixth place, respectively, in the West Division, this game may be more about pride than anything else. There’s still a lot on the line in this one, and battling with his Rush brothers against his biological brother will be a special moment for Josh Currier.
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