Lacrosse players have a passion for the game just like any athlete that plays a sport.
The unique thing about the NLL is that you can be 20 years young and making an impact for a team (Ryan Benesch, Austin Staats, or Colin Doyle) or 40 years old and still dominate the floor on any game day. We have seen players play well into their mid-40’s (John’s Tavares and Grant Jr.).
Now you might be wondering who is the oldest and youngest player in the league today?
The answer is right here:
Scott Campbell is 40 years old (born October 23, 1981) with the Halifax Thunderbirds and has been playing in the league for 17 seasons after being the 10th overall pick in the 2004 Entry Draft. He has played with five different franchises. He is not the longest tenured player in the league (Dan Dawson has been playing since 2002) but Campbell edges him in age by a few months.
As for the youngest player in the league—Chris Origlieri celebrated his 19th birthday earlier in the season (born December 19, 2002) and got his first action as goalie for the San Diego Seals. Origlieri would have only been three years old when Campbell made his debut in the 2005 season. He too was drafted in the second round like Campbell as the 23rd overall pick in the 2021 Entry Draft.
So much has changed from 19 years ago until now in the NLL. Teams, players, records, broadcasts and the professionalism of the game.
The training access for players, the amount of fans at games, and most importantly, draft day for the new class welcomed into the NLL.
Campbell relived his draft day from 2004, saying he was constantly refreshing the NLL website to see if his name was on the site.
“I had no idea what was going on. I had a few teams that had talked to me. These kids today are way more prepared and in the know than we were”.
He recalls his father giving him a call to share the good news.
That’s right, Campbell’s dad saw his name on the website before he did, being drafted 10th overall by the Minnesota Swarm.
He started playing the game because of his pops, so that was sure a proud moment for Scott.
He didn’t have the opportunity the young athletes have today going up on stage, shaking the Commissioner’s hand and displaying their new team’s jersey. He did say it is great that the league provides those opportunities now for the young players.
“Experiencing that big, special moment…meeting GM’s, coaches, and some players. It was kind of tough back then because lacrosse wasn’t as popular or big as it is today.”
He didn’t have an idol for some time, but remembers thinking, “Wait, there is a pro league where I can play in outside of just having fun?”
Growing up in Markham, Ontario, about 30 kilometers (18.5 miles) outside downtown Toronto he would attend the early days of the Rock. His favorite was NLL Hall of Famer, Pat Coyle and would later be the player he looked up to as he was getting close to joining the NLL. When going to those games and seeing the players have the grit on the floor, with the fans cheering for them, he wanted to be like them one day.
He is now one of “them”.
He says the advice he would give young athletes trying to make it to the pros is, “Don’t give up. You will find your spot. It is a good time in the NLL with all the expansion occurring. While it might take a couple tries in this league. Once you are there, hang on to it and work as hard as you can.”
With that being said, Origlieri said his time thus far as a Seal has been great. He loves how motivating and knowledgeable the older guys are on his team. They have helped him so much, especially as a young goaltender in this league, one of the hardest positions to go from the junior ranks to the NLL.
Origlieri moved to San Diego only in January 2022 and has enjoyed the new experience in a new location, having come from the hotbed for NLL goalies in Orangeville, Ontario.
“San Diego is awesome, never a dull moment- whether going to the beach or going to the other boys house.”
He is lucky enough to live with a former player and hang out with teammates throughout the week has made the transition easier.
Origlieri started playing lacrosse at a young age, probably 6 or 7 years old. His coach then said the team needed a goalie, he tried the position out and said, “it was such a fluke and I just stuck with it.”
His stepbrother is Rylan Hartley of the Rochester Knighthawks. Hartley played a few levels above him while growing up, so Origlieri got on the floor as much as he could and took as many shots while learning from the guys a few years older, while playing on three teams. With all the talent in Orangeville, Origlieri was actually cut from the top peewee team.
Aside from looking up to his step-bro, he also looked up to goalie Toronto Rock legendary goalie, Bob Watson (Campbell’s former teammate).
It wasn’t until recent years when he thought he could make the leap to the NLL. He declared for the NLL Draft after his third year of Junior A lacrosse, which was a jam packed eight games over two weekends given the challenges of a Covid year.
Chris was drafted with the 23rd overall pick in the 2021 Entry Draft. While he was bummed there was no in person draft due to Covid, he received the phone call from General Manager/Head Coach Patrick Merrill and was excited to get into camp.
Fast forward to camp when Chris shows up and his goalie coach on the Seals is non-other than Bob Watson himself.
“I fanned out a little when I first got here, but have since settled in”.
What a full circle moment to learn from your favorite goalie.
Origlieri said playing at this level is a dream come true. He got his first taste of game action on January 28 against Panther City this season after starting goalie, Frank Scigliano, was sick. Merrill had told Chris to prepare like he was going to play that night.
Origlieri mentioned he did not like his first half performance, allowing eight goals but keeping his team in the game. “I let in a lot of shots i should have saved but I definitely settled in during the second half. It was surreal. I felt like myself in the second half.”
In the end, Chris saved 29 of 41 shots, allowing just four more goals in the second half, and got the win in net. The first of his career.
Though this is when the real works starts for Origlieri as he develops in his career, he has older guys proven in this league to help him along the way, whether it is strategy or the mental side of the game, like Dane Dobbie, Frank Scigliano, and Brodie Merrill.
Age is just a number in the NLL. While the vets bring the experience and knowledge of the league; the young guys bring in a new era and mindset into the game, as well as some much needed youthful spirit. They look to take the lessons of the previous generations and add on to it. The speed of the game and skill of the players has only gotten better. For Chris and Scott, their journeys will end up with different twists and turns, but all started with seeing their name called on draft night. In 20 years, who knows, maybe Origlieri will inspire the next Scott Campbell to a career in the NLL.