By Marco Rosa | 8/1/14 2:45 PM
Midway through the first quarter of the Denver Outlaws – Chesapeake Bayhawks game, the MLL found itself with a new All-Time Goals leader. John Grant Jr. overtook Rattlers attackman Kevin Leveille and proceeded to add two more goals throughout the game to finish at 280 over Leveille’s 277.
The record which was originally held by veteran Tim Goettelman as the 2014 season began, was broken by Leveille on June 6 also against the Bayhawks, and the Rattlers attackman only had kind words to say upon hearing about Grant’s feat.
“It was an honor to become the goals leader earlier in the season,” said Leveille. “I have tons of respect for Junior and love watching him play. Just to be named in the same sentence as him is accomplishment enough for me and his record is well deserved.”
After starting the season slowly, Grant, a four-time MLL champion, has amassed a total of 27 goals and 24 assists for 51 points, almost half of which (14g, 9a and 23 pts) came in the last three games.
“I’m playing a little bit better,” he said. “Better where I feel I’m contributing. Each game, even though you want to do whatever you can to get points, I feel like I’ve left quite a few on the table that could have really helped our team. Especially in Ohio last week, if I’d had a couple more at the end of the game we might have come out with the win. I’m never satisfied with what I get personally, and obviously my goal is to help my team win, and when we’re not winning, it’s pretty devastating to me. I’m just excited to be more efficient than I have been.”
Junior started his career in Rochester at the inception of the League in 2001 but took some years off before returning in 2005 and winning two sets of back-to-back championships, first in 2008 and 2009 with the Rattlers and the Toronto Nationals and then again in 2012 and 2013 with the Bayhawks ultimately earning 2013 Championship MVP honors. He cites the Bayhawks for revitalizing his career and is thankful to them for sending him to Denver this season.
“[The move to Denver has] been great,” Grant continued. “You know, I talked about it a little bit last night being back in Annapolis, Coach Cottle and the Bayhawks, they kind of resurrected my career. [After] my short stint in Long Island, I don’t know what year it was, but I basically was packing it in, and was done with lacrosse, and they called said, ‘Do you have anything left in your tank? We’d love to have you,’ and they kind of revitalized my career and I got a love for it again— obviously winning two championships helps with that process—but I owe a lot to that franchise, and I had a phenomenal two years, but they were very nice in trading me to Denver, which they knew the travel was starting to really take its toll on me, and sent me, kind of, home. So I’ve been definitely enjoying my time in Denver, getting eight home games versus, you know, every game being on the road, has definitely been helpful to me and my family, and I appreciate that.”
A world champion several times over with both the Canadian indoor and field team, Grant was part of Team Canada’s coaching staff that took gold in the most recent FIL World Lacrosse Championship in Denver. Originally on the roster, he was forced to withdraw after the Federation denied him a medical exception to participate in the games.
“It wasn’t the way I wanted to win the gold, obviously I wanted to play,” He said. “I knew I could have played well, but it worked out. I had a lot of input as far as what we were going to do, and I thought we played very well, and to be part of that is something special and obviously it’ll look good on my resume with my future career, whenever that takes place.”
Grant is also very close to reaching another milestone as he is just five points behind his dear friend and Florida Launch rival Casey Powell for the MLL All-Time points crown.
“We’re really good friends,” He said about Powell. “I almost went to Syracuse and played with him, we were at lacrosse camp together in high school, so it goes back that far. We played together in Rochester for the Knighthawks, and spent some time together in Rochester with the Rattlers, and we played together with the Bayhawks. You know, we’re a couple of the elder statesmen in lacrosse, and I look up to him and everything he’s done for the game. He’s an ambassador and an idol for a lot of kids to look up to. Even though he’s younger than me, I look up to him in that way. He carries himself with tremendous class and we definitely aren’t fighting for any records. Basically whoever holds on to their career longer will probably end up having it.”
But for now, he is focused on helping the Denver Outlaws bring home the first championship in club history as well as host a postseason game.
“It’s just important for our organization,” he said about potentially hosting a playoff game. “I think it’s a top-notch organization, and they have a phenomenal fanbase that really supports this group, and to give them one more home game would be really a great thing for them. I mean, I think we’re fairly confident in winning one more on the road, but for the organization, it would be great to get another game. We’re just focused on starting to play our best lacrosse in August, and maybe that hasn’t been the case in the past with this team. They just dominate the summer and get so content with winning that you forget the work it takes. You know, I’ve been a part of four championships now, and it’s always about getting hot at the right time. You get two games in the playoffs to do it, and I’m hoping we’re the team that can figure this out and put the consistency together and try to march through August with some wins.”
As to whether he’ll be able to hold on to the All-Time Goals record he doesn’t think so, citing the age difference between him and Leveille.
“Leveille’s younger than me, so I think, my bet’s on him finishing with more than me,” he concluded. “Right now, I’m just glad I’m finally putting the ball in the net and shooting at a higher percentage than I have in a long time.”