By Erika Wentzell | 9/27/12 3:57 PM
Mark Matthews is having quite a busy year. He started off 2012 as a Pioneer at the University of Denver, where he broke school records for both career points as well as goals. He was drafted to the Denver Outlaws as the fourth overall pick in the 2012 MLL Collegiate Draft and joined them for his rookie MLL season, earning 19 goals and nine assists. Now he is slated to be the first overall pick in the 2012 National Lacrosse League (NLL) Entry Draft. Matthews is an incredibly talented player who is just starting to break into his potential at the professional level. Playing for the Outlaws has allowed him to help establish lacrosse in Denver. When asked if he has become a local hero, he remained modest but did concede the following; “My college teammates and I helped to put Colorado lacrosse on the map, and as you can see we get more and more fans at each Outlaws game. It’s definitely impacted the city and also the state.”
The Oshawa, Ontario native will most likely be leaving Denver for the winter months and heading back to Canada. The NLL’s Edmonton Rush have already announced that they fully intend to use their first round pick to draft Matthews, which takes a lot of pressure off Matthews’ shoulders this Monday at the NLL Draft in Toronto. He admits that it was nerve racking the past few weeks not knowing where he would end up but now he is able to refocus his attention on starting a new season.
“Now that it’s settled it’s pretty reassuring that I can relax and look at the bigger picture. For instance deciding if I’m going to live there or live at home and fly in. It’s great knowing the coaching staff and some of the players and even some of the guys that might get drafted there.”
If all goes as planned for the Rush come Monday, Matthews will be coached by Derek Keenan who he has already played for with the Whitby Warriors (OLA Junior A Lacrosse League) in 2011. When asked how he felt about the opportunity to play for Coach Keenan again Matthews was very enthusiastic about the partnership.
“It’s great, he’s one of the greatest coaches I’ve ever had and for him to be coaching up in Edmonton is going to make it easier for me to transition. He and I have a really good relationship on and off the floor.”
As to be expected, there is a good amount of transition involved with switching from outdoor field lacrosse to indoor, or box, lacrosse. Matthews said the main challenge is going from playing on an open field to a confined space in a hockey rink. However, the ability to make this change is something Matthews considers an advantage. “Being able to play in such tight quarter puts me at an advantage. It’s a real different game and for everyone playing both forms of lacrosse it’s pretty tough.”
Once the first NLL game rolls around Matthews will have some big shoes to fill, and those shoes are his own. In his very first MLL game with the Outlaws he scored a hat trick before halftime, but he insists that he wasn’t planning on that performance then and he won’t be trying to recreate it for his first NLL game. Simply put by Matthews, “I’m just looking forward to getting back into the box.”