Player Spotlight highlights the finer details and elements while supplying insight to the fans on what a player's thought process may be pertaining to a certain play, game or situation. It brings the intensity, passion, and inner most thoughts of the individual player that otherwise may not be felt or heard.
Kyle Buchanan of the New England Black Wolves is in the PLPA Player Spotlight. by Bob Chavez
In 2012, he was the first pick of the sixth round. Going No. 48 overall to the then-Washington Stealth didn 't guarantee anything, and his role as a part-time player (just 9 games) made it tough to find a rhythm on a team that went to the National Lacrosse League 's Champion 's Cup game.
In 2013, the Nepean, Ontario, native found himself in Philadelphia with the Wings for what turned out to be their final season. And this past winter, he found himself in New England, along with the rest of the Wings team after the franchise relocated.
But no matter where he 's been the last 2 NLL seasons, he 's found himself a regular gig and played 18 games in each of the 2014 and 2015 seasons. We catch up with Buchanan to talk about his approach to the game and the advice for young guys who dream of one day suiting up as a professional.
|What's your earliest recollection of picking up a lacrosse stick?|
As a kid who grew up in a family of hockey and baseball players, lacrosse never even crossed my mind until I met one of my best buddies when I was 10 years old. We played hockey against each other and he thought I would love the game. That summer I joined Nepean Minor Lacrosse and just fell in love with the high scoring, physicality, speed and strategy of the game. I quit baseball the following summer and never looked back.
|At what point as a young lad did you realize lacrosse was the game for you?|
The first summer I played, I tried to balance both lacrosse and baseball. But when I had to choose which travel team to play on and I chose lacrosse without hesitation, I knew.
You don't play lacrosse at Robert Morris and then the NLL by accident. What can you tell us about the work you put in that people don't see? (weight training, cardio, hours of wall ball, etc.)
I have been very fortunate with some of the opportunities lacrosse has given me. However, I feel those opportunities don't come without a lot of hard work. There are always so many ways to improve and I am still learning every time I step on that floor. One thing I pride myself on is being in the best shape. I have never been the biggest player, so even though I take the weight training and stuff seriously to improve, I focus a lot on my cardio in order to play at a high level when others are tired. And although the amount of time you can have a stick in your hand goes down as you get older, I try to find every opportunity possible to get some shooting and stick work in. The game of lacrosse, and especially the NLL, is filled with so many guys who are constantly improving their game so you need to stay on top of it.
|You grew up watching the NLL. Did you have a lacrosse idol and did you ever get to meet him?|
I did have two guys I constantly watched. One was John Tavares. I was fortunate enough to meet him at a camp when I was 12. I remember how hard I worked to catch his eye that camp. It was great having him in his prime helping a bunch of kids from Ottawa improve their game. Obviously now being able to meet and play against one of, if not the best player ever, is a pretty cool experience.
The other player I watched being from Nepean, was Jeff Zywicki. He was about 5 years older than me, but he was more the guy I tried to model my game after. He wasn't very big but was so creative and could beat you in so many ways. Jeff and I have worked many camps together and have also attended an NLL training camp together.
|Since you broke into the NLL in 2013, who are some of the players/teammates who have had the most influence in helping your game grow?|
There has been many guys who have had an impact in many different ways. I was extremely fortunate to play in the Champion's Cup game in my first season with a veteran group with the Washington Stealth. There were so many leaders in that group. A few guys that helped me personally with the transition to the pros on that team were Kyle Sorensen and Rhys Duch. I was in and out of the lineup that season, and those guys just made me understand that it was part of the game and to keep my head up. They were always giving me tips to continue to improve.
Since moving onto the Philadelphia/New England franchise, we have had some guys come and go but I have been able to play with some great leaders on these teams as well. The guys who have probably helped me the most would have to include Tracey Kelusky and Brodie Merrill. These guys just make everyone around them better and hold their teammates accountable for everything.
|You were with New England last season. How many times a day are you asked if Kevin Buchanan is your brother?|
|Too many! No, but it is funny how often it happens. And with Bucktooth on our team as well, we have every Bucky in the league. Things get a little complicated sometimes.
|New England's first season in the NLL didn't end with a playoff berth, but how close do you think the Black Wolves are to becoming a postseason contender?|
Very close. We shot ourselves in the foot early in the season in a couple games and just couldn't get out of the funk. Those skids happen in this league and we still had a chance to get into the post season even late in the year. We are putting the pieces together to build as a great franchise and team in the very near future and I am excited to be a part of that.
In the dressing room scene, what kind of role do you see yourself in when it's halftime? Are you a vocal leader or do you try to lead by example?
I'd like to say I try to play both roles a bit. I don't hesitate to speak up when I feel it is needed or the time is right. I have always been that way. However, I also like to try and play with some fire and do the right things to lead by example. Some guys are just more comfortable doing one or the other but I try and find a happy medium in both.
|What's your full-time gig outside of lacrosse?|
I am actually going back to school to get my Ontario Teacher's Certificate. I have been coaching and working in schools the last three years and am looking to get into a classroom full-time in the near future.
|Who's going to win the 2016 Stanley Cup?|
|Tough to say now. I have to think LA and Chicago in the West and Tampa Bay and Montreal in the East will all have a good shot at it.
|Who do you want to win the 2016 Stanley Cup?|
| Pittsburgh or Toronto
|Advice for young kids playing lacrosse today if they want to get the most out of their potential?|
| Watch (and learn) and ALWAYS have your stick in your hands. As a young kid, I never left the rink. When kids would go back to swim and play at the hotel, I asked for some lunch money and would stay around the rinks all day and watch the best teams and players... and I always carried my stick with me everywhere I went.
Bob Chavez has been covering the NLL since 1995 and has been a writer/editor for ILIndoor.com since its inception in 2008. He lives in the Finger Lakes region of New York with his wife and 2 children.