With their first pick in the 2012 MLL Expansion Draft the Ohio Machine drafted Connor Martin. The Machine made a conscious effort this off-season to bring in high character players and form strong locker room chemistry in the team’s inaugural season. Nobody embodies that sentiment better than the quirky attackman from Lake Oswego, Oregon. We had the opportunity to speak with Martin and find out how he stays sharp in the off-season and what his expectations are for the Machine this season.
You became one of the first ever members of the Ohio Machine when they drafted you with their first pick in the Expansion Draft. What did that mean to you?
It felt good to be wanted. There were a core group of guys there already from Ohio that were already on the team and I knew those guys. I was really excited to play with them. They are really high character, super good men. It felt good. I worked really hard and when Coach Garber asked me if I wanted to play it felt good and I told him that I did.
How does it feel to be playing for an Expansion team in its first season?
It’s exciting. You can kind of write your own destiny. There is no past really; it’s kind of a fresh start. You can be a part of something. Whether or not the Machine is still around in 50 years, you will have still been a part of that first team. That’s really fun to think about. You can be part of the team that started lacrosse in Ohio. It’s very cool to be there.
I had the opportunity to speak with Greg Bice and he mentioned that the fans in Ohio are super excited to have an MLL team. Have you gotten that sense as well from the fans?
Yeah. I’ve never been to Ohio before but the Internet will tell you things and yeah I’ve seen the tweets and the Facebook messages saying, “We’re so excited to have you” and “We can’t wait for lax in Ohio!” I feel like there are definitely a lot of people excited. Greg would have a better idea because he runs that town. The town of Ohio. It has definitely been a positive reaction over the Internet and I can’t wait to go check it out and see how pumped people are. I hope it’s kind of my job, also, to get people excited about the game as well.
Now that the rosters are basically set and we’ve gone through all of the craziness of the off-season, looking at the team on paper, what are your expectations for this season?
I think everyone knows on paper what kind of guys we have. Defensively we’re strong. So it’s exciting to have that core in a league that is so offensively driven. If you have a defense that can slow down all of these high-powered guys out there, I think we’re going to have a real good chance. We have a solid group of goalies. That’s the core of any team. So looking at that, that’s awesome. From an offensive standpoint, where I’m playing, I think that there are a lot of young guys that still haven’t proven themselves. But I don’t see any reason why we can’t have a few of us or all of us just blow up and figure it out. We’ve got a couple of vets, proven goal scorers. And I’m confident that I can contribute. I’m sure the other guys are too. I think the good thing about this team is that there is no outright Paul Rabil on the team. No offense to Paul, he’s amazing, but I think it will force us to play together a little more because we can’t just depend on someone like Paul to create his own shot. That happens sometimes. I don’t know if it’s a bad thing or a good thing. But we’re going to have to play together to win, which I think is cool. There are a lot of teams in the league that I have watched that aren’t as team driven as much as the game is in college. I think we can surprise some people. We’ll see what happens, there is a lot up in the air and there are a lot of questions about who is going to step up but I think that makes it even more fun.
You alluded to it earlier and I spoke with Coach Garber earlier in the month and he mentioned that he went out of his way to get high character, chemistry oriented guys. He wanted to have a good locker room dynamic. How important do you think that is?
I think it’s THE thing for the team to have. It’s so important to have guys who care about the team and aren’t about just themselves. Especially in a league where every single guy was the star of their team. It doesn’t matter where they played, they were the man. So if you can put together a group of guys who are actually team oriented, coming from that kind of past, you can build something truly great. We will see what happens. All of the guys that I know on the team are great guys. Just from a character standpoint, there is a lot of that on the team. It’s an exciting thing to be a part of. Obviously I’m not condemning any other team or saying that they don’t have character or integrity, but at this point I know that that will define our team. I think we do have a chance to play like a real good team. It’s not the one on one matchup for us. I’m really curious to see if this will work. I think it will. I’m excited to play for all of the other guys on the team and that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it can just become about you, but I’m looking up and down the list and there are some great guys that I want to sell out for. That alone should set the tone and be a little different about the Ohio Machine.
During the off-season, how do you go about physically and mentally preparing yourself for the season?
Physically, I kind of got lucky. I have a great job. My job is Con Bro Chill, my band. It gives me the best schedule ever. I wake up and go work out. And then I’m going to play a show on Friday. My schedule is great. I can work out seven days per week and have my stick in my hand all week and train. I’m very fortunate. I was training really hard this fall and I stayed in shape. I had a trainer. It’s very important to me to prove to people that I’m an athlete and not just a little jokester. I’ve got that little chip on my shoulder so that kind of keeps me going no matter what. Mentally it is tough. The game is fast and the guys are big. And off the field and away from the game during the week is a challenge. You can’t train together. You can go train at a college or with high school kids but it’s just not the same. So mentally, I think it’s all about confidence. It’s 100 percent about being confident. Everyone can play, everyone is good but everyone can have a bad day. I think it’s all about confidence and knowing what you can and can’t do. I’ve had a lot of time to think about it and I’m really confident.
We talked about your team expectations. For you personally do you have any goals going into the season?
At this point in my career it’s playing. Last year I wanted to play eight games. That’s kind of tough because it’s up to the coach but it’s how my career has been. If I play well enough, and it doesn’t matter how many goals I score, will I get to play? My goal is just to play 14 games. Be healthy and contribute and be valuable to the team. I don’t set specific goals like I want to score 30 goals or have 50 assists. It’s just not how I think. I want to play well enough to contribute every week. I keep my goals simple in that way. I just want to play a full season. I hope it’s the year that I establish myself and get some PT. I hate not playing.
You mentioned your band Con Bro Chill. That’s also your alter ego. So tell me a little bit about Con Bro Chill.
Con Bro Chill is a band with my brother and my two best buds. We just released a new album called 3D Music. We just went on a tour in the off-season in Boston. We have a big Internet presence. We’re totally goofy and fun. It kind of started as some lacrosse videos that we put up. It’s just a character that I play this is pretty spazzy and ridiculous and kind of developed into where we wanted it to go into music. Now I’ve got this sweet band and I’m the front man. My brother lead sings and it’s my job off the field. Everybody has a job and mine is incredibly fun and really exciting. We’ll see what happens with it but it definitely keeps things fun and creative. ConBroChill.com. If you don’t know about us you can find it all there.
You have flexible hours and you can workout whenever you need to workout but how do you strike that balance between your band and also traveling around the country for lacrosse?
That’s a good question because I think a lot of people think that it’s impossible. You’d be surprised how much time you have to train. From a business standpoint a lot of it is organizing and when it comes to performing and making videos those are big workdays but really those come and go. There are lots of waves and lulls. Even when I was on tour I probably played more lax than I do at home. I had a lot of downtime waiting for shows. I went to Harvard and shot on Adam Gittleman and got to train with some of my Ohio teammates. It’s pretty cool. So much of my life is lacrosse and the other guys in the band played lax so we’re always playing together. I can see it, even if Con Bro Chill does work out as a next level band I don’t see lacrosse ever taking a hit just because the bigger it gets the more important it will be to take care of myself and taking care of myself really means lacrosse. I think it’s very open and very synergistic. A lot of guys have day jobs, 9 to 5. They’re just toast after the workday and it’s hard to get a workout in. That’s a life I’m not trying to live.
LIGHTNING ROUNDWhat is your favorite pump up song on your iPod?
Last of the Mohicans, that finale song will get you going.
What do you think is the single most important exercise or drill a lacrosse player should do?
Hitting the wall. It’s unbelievable. There’s no question, it’s the only reason I was able to get any good at the sport. Wall ball baby.
Tell me about how you string your head
I do a pocket that can kind of float to the bottom so that you can play attack and carry it one handed and the ball fits in there real nice. But it’s also kind of a knit part that can get a little hold and get some serious snap. It’s pretty point and shoot. Not too much whip. But it can still whip though.
Facebook or Twitter?
Twitter now. I do love Facebook though.
Favorite Sports Movie?
What is one thing that fans don’t know about you?
I have webbed feet. A couple of my toes are webbed. It’s pretty awesome. They’re not so webbed that it’s super freaky but it is kind of gnarly.