With the 2013 Collegiate Draft less than a month away we caught up with 2012 Cascade Rookie of the Year, Matt Gibson, to ask him about his draft experience and his first season in Major League Lacrosse.
Gibson knew he had a chance to get drafted last season but wasn’t sure when. The attackman was selected in the fifth round with the 33
rd overall pick by Chesapeake and immediately traded to New York.
“I was watching it with my buddies,” Gibson said. “We had it on TV while we were hanging out. It was definitely in the back of my mind that I might get drafted but I wasn’t sitting there watching and thinking ‘when am I going to get drafted?’ it was more of I knew I had a shot type thing.”
Even after getting selected he had no assurance he was going to get on a team.
“I honestly had no idea, I didn’t know what my place on either of those rosters would be,” Gibson continued. “I was sitting back and curious to see if I was going to get a shot at making a roster. When my season [at Yale] ended [New York Lizards] coach Spallina called me and let me know that he was definitely interested in having me up at practice and potentially having me travel for the first game I was eligible for. For me it was very much up in the air. I had no idea what my place would be. Given my draft status and that I was traded I really didn’t know what they envisioned their roster being so I was in a sit and wait type of thing.”
Nonetheless, Gibson went on to have a stellar first season posting back-to-back five point performances in his first two games.
“That was a big part of my success,” he said. “I had a lot of support from the coaching staff and the players. There were players on the team who had been in the league for a few years and they were pretty supportive of me. Coming in I didn’t know too many people and I really didn’t know what to expect going out there. But doing so well the first couple of games let me know I was ready to play at this level and that the coaching staff and players were comfortable with me in a spot where I was going to get some significant playing time so to do well like that early on was a big mental thing for me.”
His on-the-field exploits earned him consecutive Rookie of the Week honors and a call-up to the All-Star game, the only rookie player to be selected.
“The all-star game was an awesome experience,” Gibson said. “ I knew I had a good first half of the season but I didn’t expect them to call me to go down [to Boca Raton, Fla.]. Just being named to the All-Star team was really special to me. Then to go down there and play with some of the guys I grew up watching, guys I tried to emulate on the field it was definitely a cool experience. I was coming out of college and no one really knew how good I was or if I was going to play and then to be recognized like that and actually get to go down on the field playing alongside players like Casey Powell it was really cool. I was more honored to be there than anything else.”
Acclimating to a new team is never easy especially when there are others competing for your spot, Gibson was able to count on his new teammates for advice.
“I had known Ryan Young going in so he was definitely a guy I could connect with and was a stepping stone to getting to know the other guys,” he continued. “Brian Langtry was one guy who from the first game was giving me tips and being very supportive of me. He’s been around the league for some time and was giving me pointers throughout the season and to have a guy with that kind of experience give you advice was really cool. Defenseman Chris Passavia was also giving me tips from the very first day letting me know what worked, what didn’t and what I should be taking advantage of. Everyone is competing for a spot on the game-day roster and I’m sure he had other buddies on the team but to have him push me in the right direction right from the get-go was really cool.”
Gibson went on to post an impressive record with 18 goals and 15 assists, earning him Cascade Rookie of the Year honors as voted by the coaches and general managers.
“It was a big honor,” he said. “There were other really quality rookies out there this year so to get the nod, especially knowing it came from the coaches and general managers, was really important. It was great to be recognized with some of the great players out there. In my college career I really didn’t get to play on the biggest stage or necessarily have as much exposure so hopefully this is something I can build on.”
Looking ahead at the 2013 Collegiate Draft, Gibson doesn’t have much insight on who the top prospects may be, but he does name a former teammate as someone who would do well in the League should he continue playing after his collegiate career is over.
“One guy I played with at Yale is [defenseman] Mike McCormick,” Gibson said. “He’s the captain there now. He’s really good in transition and has an offensive mind when moving forward. He’s one of those guys that not many people know about but brings a lot to the table.”
Will McCormick get drafted at the 2013 MLL Collegiate Draft? Find out on Jan. 11, 2013 when the draft takes place in Philadelphia.