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.
Curtis Hodgson of the Vancouver Stealth is in the PLPA Player Spotlight. by TY PILSON
Curtis Hodgson admits he's become 'That Guy' now.
As the captain and longest-serving member of the Vancouver Stealth with 10 seasons under his belt, the defensive stalwart is the franchise's all-time leader in games played with 179.
No longer a pup, the Burnaby native turned the ripe, old age of 34 on August 12.
"I always tell (the younger) guys that when I was your age, I remember looking at guys like me and thinking 'What a loser. What is that guy still playing for?,' laughed Hodgson.
However, he doesn't plan to put himself out to pasture anytime soon.
"I've been very lucky," he said of his lengthy tenure with the Stealth. "Not many guys get to play with a team this long. I feel very fortunate to have had this opportunity. And not only to be with the same team for so long, but with a lot of the same people which is very cool."
Along with wearing the C for the Stealth, he also serves as the captain of the storied New Westminster Salmonbellies. And while he's blowing out a few more birthday candles now, his passion for the game burns as strong as ever.
"I tell people to play as an old guy, it has to still be fun," said Hodgson. "Ninety-nine percent of my experience in the game is great. It's such a great game with such great people. I really enjoy it all still."
Hodgson said one of the biggest rewards in playing now is to mentor the younger players in his leadership capacity.
"I take a lot of pride in it," he explained. "I want to lead by example on and off the floor and provide perspective in the dressing room when needed based on the experiences I've had and try and be a calming influence."
During his NLL career, Hodgson has had the chance to play with some of the game's best and when asked if anyone stood out in terms of having a major impact on him, he said two guys taught him a lot when it came to how to carry himself and be a leader.
"Early in my career was a guy named Darren Reisig," said Hodgson. "Darren and I played in San Jose for a couple of years. I still talk to him today and we're still friends and he's an awesome example of how to carry yourself, how to be a pro, the right approach to the game. I appreciated his example and the time he took to help me with my game.
"The other guy I have to give a lot of respect to is Colin Doyle. I played with Colin when he was our captain in San Jose and the thing I appreciated most about Colin was how hard he worked and the expectation he had for everyone to work as hard as he did. And it's a little different seeing that when he's your best player.
"I've never seen a guy practice as hard as him — especially an offensive player," he added laughing.
Hodgson earned his teaching degree at B.C.'s Simon Fraser University where he played field lacrosse before becoming a full-time teacher in the Lower Mainland, a job he credits with allowing him to still be playing in both the NLL and WLA.
All of his extensive teaching and leadership experience made him the perfect candidate to take over as the new director of the Stealth Lacrosse Academy this year.
The Stealth Lacrosse Academy is a program designed to allow kids to travel, compete and take their box skills to the next level once their club season ends. This year, for example, Stealth Academy players will travel to such events as the annual Canada Day Tournament in Calgary, the U.S. Box nationals in California and the Junior NLL Tournament in Oakville, Ont.
The Stealth Lacrosse Academy has also been involved with trying to elevate the game in the B.C. interior in areas of the province that aren't traditional lacrosse hotbeds.
"It gives the kids a chance to network with Stealth guys, met players like myself and other guys and it's a great community outreach program," said Hodgson. "The coolest thing is for kids to be able to be coached (by pros) and meet players still in the game."
Not surprisingly, the coolest part for Hodgson is giving back to the game that has given him so much.
"I really hope we can continue to grow it and help develop kids' box games," said Hodgson. "At the end of the day, that's really all you want is to see them grow and the game grow."
5 Questions with Curtis Hodgson
|1. At what age did you start playing lacrosse and how did you get involved in the game?|
I became involved in lacrosse when I was 10 years old. My good friend had played it the previous summer instead of baseball. I wanted to hang out with my friend and try a new sport. Ironically, when I first started, I actually didn't enjoy playing the game. My stick skills were pretty bad due to being a new player and my mom had to dress me before I got to the rink because I didn't know how to put on my pads. Luckily I stuck with it, worked hard on improving my stick skills and fell in love with the game.
|2. Who's the toughest player for you to go up against in the NLL?|
|Tough question because there are so many talented players in the NLL. I match up mostly against left-handed players. In my opinion, the best two-man game player in the league is Dane Dobbie. He is excellent at finding a defender's back and rolling to the net. He also doesn't need much room in front of the net to catch and put the ball in the net.
|3. What are your pre-game superstitions?|
|I don't have many, the only things that I'm a creature of habit about is putting my gear on from the left side to right side. Chris Hall always used to tell us not to be superstitious ... just focus on being great!
|4. Describe your stick setup: What type of pocket, how many shooting strings, whip on a scale of 1-10, tape job, etc.?|
|I must admit that I don't know much about stringing a stick. Ricky Clark, my good friend that I went to college with, actually still strings all of my lacrosse sticks for me. He does such a great job that I can pick up a newly strung head and it throws perfectly. Rick puts a pocket where the ball sits in the middle, has three shooting strings, and then also has two strings that go from the top of the head down to the bottom side to create a channel for the ball to sit and come out of. In has a whip of about 5/10 mainly because I love to throw twister shots at the goalies feet. I tape the bottom of my stick for grip on my bottom glove.
|5. Who is your lacrosse idol?|
|I grew up in Burnaby and played my minor and junior lacrosse there. My idol growing up was a long-time WLA player named Ian Paterson who played for Burnaby. Ian was my idol because he took the time to coach my age group in field lacrosse when I was growing up. It was awesome to be able to talk and interact with a coach that you were also able to watch play the game. I was lucky at the start of my WLA to career to play with Ian as his was ending. Ian's example always reminds me how important it is to interact and work with young players as we try to grow the game of lacrosse.
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.