National Lacrosse League
Player Spotlight: Columbus Landsharks' Neal Powless
Wednesday, July 10, 2002
By David W. Unkle
Reprinted with permission of the Professional Lacrosse Player's Association.
Q: Tell us how you feel to be selected to play in the 2002 World Lacrosse Championship in Perth, Australia.
A: This is my third World Championship; I played in my first World Championship in 1994 which was held in the United Kingdom and my second in 1998 which was held in Baltimore, Maryland. My first World Championship was awesome; to play the quality of lacrosse that is seen in the World Championships is great. It is very exciting to represent the National Lacrosse League and compete for the Iroquois National Team. The games are being played from July 5-14.
Q: Can you share your thoughts on your performance this past season with Columbus Landsharks?
A: I came in as a walk on and just wanted to make the team. Through hard work, I was able to make the team...it was very exciting to play a full season [a season in which Powless had 25G/13A and 2 game-winning goals]...it's just another chance to prove that I can play at this level.
Q: What are your thoughts on the rule change which was announced today following the NLL Board of Governor's meeting on standardizing goalkeeper equipment?
A: There were a couple of goalies who padded up big...with the size of the net increasing, I'm not surprised...a few inches makes a big difference...I think the rule changes will help reaction-style goalies such as Philadelphia's Dallas Eliuk and will definitely help the shooters. The rule changes will hurt position-style goalies, who like to play the angles.
Q: What are your thoughts on the state of lacrosse in the United States?
A: The big part of the Canadian success of lacrosse is the youth movement. There are so many levels at which lacrosse is played (Pee Wee, Bantam, etc). The kids of Iroquois Nation learn to play box lacrosse...now club leagues are popping up everywhere. I believe that lacrosse can enjoy the same success in the U.S. but is starts with the youth...you have to get kids playing lacrosse at a young age...I really see lacrosse growing in the United States. The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and the Discovery Channel have provided coverage.
Q: In your opinion, what can the National Lacrosse League do to expand the fan base across the United States?
A: It's an expensive venture...I would like to see the NLL sponsor youth leagues in potential expansion cities to get kids to learn the indoor game. As you know, kids generally play field lacrosse which has different rules...kids need to learn the pick and roll (the premium offensive play)...as I said earlier, it all starts with youth...if kids go, their parents will follow. National television exposure is also very important...especially with the expected expansion out West. The league should take advantage of the fact that many lacrosse cities also have a National Hockey League team in that city. Working together with that team to promote lacrosse will also generate interest.
Q: The Columbus Landsharks surprised a few teams (Washington Power and Philadelphia Wings) this past season. What did you see as the strengths of that team?
A: Last year everyone underestimated us. We had a rough start losing to New Jersey, Calgary, and New York before we had our first win...we had 18-19 rookies and once they had a few games under their belt, they developed confidence. As I said, I think teams looked at our roster and saw the number of rookies that we had and took us lightly. I think our strength is our youth...we ran hard and had nothing to lose, which is a big motivation factor...we took advantage of our young legs which allowed us to get our defense off the floor and our offense on and down the floor. We didn't worry about making mistakes; we just worked hard...when there's no tomorrow, you play for today.
Q: What can we expect of the Landsharks in the upcoming 2002-03 National Lacrosse League season?
A: Another exciting season...everyone is optimistic...we finished with more wins than people expected...as a team, we knew we were better than our record...Our goal is to do better than last year...we look at a team like Albany that is a motivated team and see what they did...the sky is the limit and it all starts with off-season preparation and stick work.
Q: What do you need to do to take your game to the next level?
A: Many things...I look at a guy like Buffalo Bandits' John Tavares and watch how he prepares...he's one of the best players in the league...he is conditioned both mentally and physically...he exudes that strength on the floor...for me, I have to develop that same level of physical and mental strength so that I can take full advantage of what the defense lets me have.
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