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 Jackson grew up knowing he wanted to play lacrosse. A Sarnia, Ontario native at the age of 25 he has done what many people take a life time to achieve. He's a professional lacrosse player in both the National Lacrosse League with the Rochester Knighthawks; a player in Major League Lacrosse; has earned at least a dozen awards during that time; and has formed a successful on line lacrosse training company. When he sets out to do something, he achieves greatness. His outlook on life; lacrosse; and the comradery with his teammates makes him a special person.
Kyle was the first University of Michigan player to be drafted in the NLL Entry Draft. He wanted to show people who went to U of M that you don't have to go there just for the academics. Although it's a good school, it's not just for academics. As an athlete you can go on to pursue a professional lacrosse career if you chose. You don't have to attend one of the big name schools to reach the next level; you can still go to a school like of U of M and pursue a career in lacrosse. Kyle majored in English at the University of Michigan, although he tried many different fields, this was his ultimate goal.
Chosen seventh overall in the 2017 NLL Entry Draft, we wondered how that felt. He went onto say "It was amazing to get picked up so fast, I didn't expect to be picked up at all. I had no expectations so when I heard my name called, my parents and I just looked at one another almost as if it was a joke. We didn't think it was real. It was an eye opener and I knew that regardless of whether or not I got picked up or who picked me up, I was not going to give that team any reason to cut me. That meant doing everything possible to prove to them that I ultimately deserved to be on the team."
We wondered what the most important thing Kyle would tell someone who was interested in lacrosse. Kyle had the best answer I have ever heard. "Make sure you're having fun; don't do it because you feel like someone is pressuring you. Play because you want to. Go out, get better because you want to, but also make sure that your weaknesses become your strengths. Make sure you are doing everything you possibly can to work on those weaknesses because they are ultimately what helps you grow as a player and also as a human being."
Being chosen for the NLL All-Rookie Team was an honor. Kyle plays the game with a lot of passion. As he said "My skill set is different than most. I think there are many players, who are very good at one or two things, but overall my game has transcended over the last couple of years and one of those reasons goes back to making your weaknesses become your strengths. I've done everything I can to make sure they are limited and in turn I improve in the long run."
Since many professional lacrosse players play both box and field, we wanted to know which Kyle liked best. His outlook shows his devotion to the game. Regardless of the season, his play is based upon which game he is playing at that moment. He loves to play lacrosse so whenever he's on the field or floor, he plays to the fullest and has the utmost respect for the game. Kyle said "Even though the seasons overlap, as soon as the NLL season is done and the MLL season starts, the MLL becomes my favorite league. Right now it's the NLL."
That brought up our next question. How do you make the transition from box to field? He said, "For me it's been fairly easy because I think I play a pretty similar game in the NLL; MLL; box; or field. The transition isn't too difficult because I really try to stick to the same roots I've always played with. It's not hard as both games transition very well for me".
So why play forward? "During my college career I played midfield. I've always had more of an offensive mindset going into things, that's why I fit in so well in the offensive role where I'm at now. But at the same time, if I was ever needed to strictly play defense it's something I would take great pride in. I'd have no problem doing that but as of now, my lacrosse game has transcended to the offensive side of things".
Many people wonder, which of the two, box or field takes a bigger toll on the body. Kyle said "I think box just because of the physicality of it. The field game takes far more athleticism because you play on a bigger field and have to run a lot more. The toll on your body is a different kind of sore or hurt in field. In box you are constantly getting pounded on."
With so much success early in his career, we wanted to know what Kyle attributes his successes. Kyle's drive for the game is unmatched. Since he was young he always wanted to be a professional lacrosse player. To this day he loves going to the arena; loves lacrosse; and loves his teammates. It has helped him be successful in his endeavors so far. He has so much passion and love for the game, which is why he attends so many events making him an even greater success.
Some already consider Kyle a "future great". We asked him what he thought about that. "It's a huge honor and I appreciate everyone who is saying that. But my biggest goal is to be a great teammate and to make sure that when I'm done playing lacrosse, people will remember me because of the teammate I was. I don't need to be the guy with the great stories on the floor, and I take great pride in being one of the players who when the game is down to the wire, my teammates trust me and want me to have the ball. Ultimately those are great honors, but I would love it more if I am remembered for being a great teammate when my career is all said and done."
K47 Lacrosse is Kyle's way of giving back to the lacrosse world. He decided to start the company because people would call and ask him to teach lessons. As he lived in Toronto he knew couldn't get out to them, as many players lived in the States. He thought of doing something on-line and created a database for people to reach out and receive virtual lessons. This became another resource for people thinking they had to give up the game because they didn't have the option of having someone teach them. It gave those players the resources to help make them better on a daily basis.
With more changes to the NLL season, and the addition of more bye weeks, many fans wonder what the players think about it. In Kyle's opinion, "It makes it tough for me especially when you win a game, get into the swing of things and then you miss a week. We were lucky getting the win in the game against Georgia coming off a bye week because historically that's not what teams do. Again you're not with your team so you're on your own to train and practice. A lot of guys don't like it and others love it. But at the same time, there are those bye weeks which are essential because you have guys that are banged up and it gives them the extra time to heal".
Inquiring fans want to know... do you enjoy vlogging? "Most definitely, I love it. I wanted to do it for a very long time, but I couldn't build up the courage. Now that I've been vlogging, it's great. I took a hiatus for a bit because we were losing. So I figured I would change things up since no one who plays professional sports does it. I figured I'd try it out and being the only one, I decided to branch out and give people an in depth look at what it's like to be a professional lacrosse player on a daily basis."
Kyle's outlook; mindset; goals; ideas; and love of the game truly make him a great ambassador. We are all here to grow the game and he has certainly taken on that role in all facets imaginable. It was an extreme pleasure speaking with this young man who has a great outlook on life and lacrosse.
Lacrosse, whether box or field, professional or club, is spreading like wildfire across the nation as well as the world. We look forward to seeing Kyle grow with the game. Lacrosse is a family of people all ages; nations; and backgrounds. It's a sport that once you watch it, you will grow to love it
Diane Miller is the founder of LacrosseIsAwesome.com and has been covering the sport of lacrosse since 2009. Originally a lacrosse photographer, she began writing articles for the Denver Outlaws and Colorado Mammoth in 2013, and also covered all 14 days of the World Lacrosse Championship games in Colorado in 2014, focusing on the Blue Division. She has been photographing lacrosse professionally since 2014 and covered the Denver Outlaws first championship title in 2014. She has worked for Lax.com photographing the University of Denver men's lacrosse team, and currently sponsors one of the expansion teams in the Regional Box Lacrosse League in Colorado, the Denver Buzz.