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.
Dan MacRae of the Calgary Roughnecks is in the PLPA Player Spotlight. by TY PILSON
For Dan MacRae, stepping up to be the Roughnecks latest PLPA rep was all about family. Both on and off the floor. The mobile defender wanted to serve the best interests of the players' fraternity he belongs to, representing the guys he thinks of like family within the Calgary dressing room. But he also wanted to serve in the capacity as a steward for the league to help insure it's future for his 14-year-old brother, Luke Pilcher.
"For myself, joining with the PLPA and being in this league you want to see it grow and get to a sustainable point so guys my brother's age or younger are coming up this league is not only still around but has grown exponentially from the point we're at," said MacRae, who took over from past Calgary player rep Mike Poulin.
Serving as not only a brother but a lacrosse role model and someone Luke looks up to is a welcome role for MacRae. "He's been a ball boy for my teams since he was probably three years old," he said. "All he wants to do is get a chance to play with his brother or reach the level of his brother and it's pretty humbling to have someone look up to you like that."
Like most NLLers, MacRae - who just completed his fifth NLL season, all with Calgary - dreams of a day that the league can be a full-time job for every player, with bigger paycheques, longer seasons and the ability to focus all their energy on the game they're so passionate about.
"I want to do my part to grow the sport and grow the league," said MacRae. "And hopefully we're at that point one day that it's 30 teams and you don't have to worry about getting up for the traditional 9-5 job. Hopefully one day."
For the time being, however, MacRae - like most of his professional lacrosse playing brethren - is busy balancing his life inside the dressing room with what many players joke about as 'the real world.'
The Oakville, Ontario, product spends his winters playing before the raucous Saddledome crowds and his summers suiting up on Vancouver Island - aka Fantasy Island - for the WLA's famed Victoria Shamrocks.
Last November, MacRae decided to put the degree he earned while playing lacrosse at RIT to use, landing a job with Calgary-based executive-search firm Michael Page. There he works to sell his services to companies looking for employees, as well as interviewing and pairing up potential hires with clients.
"The business world was always a goal for myself and kind of where I saw myself," said MacRae. Settling into his new gig right as NLL training camps started up and segued into the season was a trying time for him.
"It just has to be about time management," said MacRae. "It is tough to balance the work, the lacrosse and sprinkle in a little bit of an outside life. There are so many balls in the air and you have to figure out a way to keep them all up there."
Like many NLLers, MacRae is blessed to work for a company that has accommodated and supported his lacrosse career. "They've been awesome towards me in pursuing my lacrosse endeavours," said MacRae. "I'm pretty thankful. I've been very fortunate to find something that's allowing me to still pursue my passion and be a little kid at heart still on the weekends and away from work."
Moreover, MacRae's company is giving him an unpaid leave this summer so he can head to the West Coast to chase a Mann Cup with the Shamrocks after taking last summer off from WLA play. The break from doing double duty with work and lacrosse will be a welcome one for MacRae.
"I'm pretty lucky right now, I'm able to step back and catch my breath at the moment with not having to work full-time this summer and being able to focus on lacrosse," said MacRae. "It's pretty refreshing right now and lets me charge up the batteries."
Getting to show off a Mann Cup ring to Luke would be special for MacRae, who stays in regular contact with his brother via phone, social media and Skype. However, he joked he's not the best guy to give advice about Luke's on-floor game.
"He's an offensive guy, so there's not much I can give him," said MacRae with a laugh. "He's already scoring more goals than I ever will in my career." But in all seriousness, he does advise his brother of what he thinks it takes to be successful overall in the game of lacrosse.
"Stay humble, don't let your head get too big and always be the hardest working guy on the floor," said MacRae. "That's what helped me get to where I've got in my career."
5 QUESTIONS WITH DAN MACRAE
|At what age did you start playing lacrosse and how did you get involved in the game?|
I first began playing lacrosse at the age of 7, where my childhood coach Rob MacDougal found a number of future lacrosse players at the local arenas playing hockey in Oakville, Ontario. I remember Rob hosting a introductory presentation to all the new kids and their families about the history of the sport and his vision for our teams. Thankfully Rob did a stellar job and my Dad and I were sold on the sport. Rob continued to coach myself through the rest of my minor career, along with his son Dylan, and a number of other amazingly talented players who I still keep in touch with and call friends to this day.
|Who's the toughest player for you to go up against in the NLL?|
|Being a left-handed defender I naturally find myself defending the offensive right-handed players in the league. So, with that being said, I would have to go with the toughest 1-on-1 check to go up against would have to be Rhys Duch from the Vancouver Stealth. Rhys is a very athletic player who can shoot from the outside or beat you with his foot speed. He always makes for a tough match up and makes you elevate you game to its highest level.
|What are your pre-game superstitions?|
|Pregame superstitions usually start about four hours before the game for me, waking up from an hour nap, showering and getting to the rink at least three hours before the ball drop. From there on the list gets pretty long but I like to tape my stick and go through a few mental preparation exercises before most of the team gets in.
|Describe your stick setup: What type of pocket, how many shooting strings, whip on a scale of 1-10, tape job, etc.?|
|I have been stringing lacrosse sticks since I was 13 years old and I think it is a very important skill for young lacrosse players to learn and develop in order to understand and correct stick problems as they happen. My current stick has a middle pocket with a good amount of depth, about a whip of 4 or 5 out of 10, and four shooting strings with the bottom in a "U" shape. The tape job that I use is less for functionality and more superstitious.
|Who is your lacrosse idol?|
|I had a number of lacrosse idols growing up and the guys who I would try to mimic my game after were Steve Toll and Brodie Merrill. But being from Oakville, I always idolized Dan Dawson, as he worked his way into the league against the odds as a low drafted player, and he is such a great ambassador for the sport and city of Oakville, giving back to both communities. He has been a great role model.
Ty Pilson has been covering the NLL since 2000 for the Calgary Sun, Inside Lacrosse and ilindoor.com. He was named the Tom Borrelli Award winner as the league's media person of the year in 2007. Having played the game growing up and being passionate about the sport, he is active in Calgary's lacrosse community as a coach and board member with the Axemen minor lacrosse association.