Inside Lacrosse Multimedia Manager Joe Sweeney and I braved the great white north early this week to spend a day with Reebok’s Brodie Merrill, Dan Dawson and Mark Steenhuis in Toronto.
The goal was to capture a day in the life of these guys as they prepare for the upcoming NLL season. It couldn’t have been a more typical beginning.
Brodie hadn’t been home in a week and a half: he was enduring arctic temperatures in Edmonton (-40) for training camp with the Rush, after training with MMA fighter Randy Couture in Las Vegas the week prior. He got in late Sunday night, thanks in part to a canceled flight from out west.
Dawson had just gotten off a 14-hour shift as a firefighter and came straight to breakfast at Flo’s Diner.
Steenhuis spent about 30 minutes on the phone with Merrill trying to find us in the Yorkville neighborhood of Toronto. By the time he arrived we were done eating, so the waiter immediately asked him what he wanted. Before even sitting down or looking at a menu he responded: “I’ll take some bacon and eggers.”
The boys caught up on training camp (Dawson says we should expect big things from Syracuse’s Matt Abbott this season, and there’s a lot of optimism in Edmonton with all their additions), told some hilarious old stories about the early NLL days (Steenhuis and Dawson were teammates way back in the day with the old Columbus Landsharks) and swapped similar experiences with hotel wrestling, practical jokes and cards (Acey Ducey and Guts are two NLL favorites, and some guys have gotten rung up for pots as high as a grand).
I kept the Flip Cam going for about 40 minutes, so hopefully the obnoxious woman two tables over didn’t drown out the sound and Sweeney can get that video up on the near future.
From there we took off in three cars (Swingers-style) to Hill Academy in suburban Vaughan, which was nearly impossible since Merrill drives like Mario Andretti. We arrived at lunch time, and despite having just finished his breakfast like 30 minutes prior, Steenhuis was pumped to get in line with the students for some pasta.
On the agenda was a workout with Hill trainer Dan Noble, which was news to Steenhuis. Best line of the day was probably: “We’re gonna work out? Like, with weights?” Second best line of the day was from Dawson as the group was trying to explain to Steenhuis how to do his first power clean: “You seriously don’t know how to do this?”
Noble explained that most of the exercises they were doing were based on mimicking athletic on-field movement, so basically the polar opposite of beach muscle-centric bench presses and curls.
Merrill rounded up a few Hill players to shoot around over at their indoor field across the street. Before we left, out of nowhere, Dawson convinced goalie Logan Horvath to suit up and hop into this small closet-sized glass room in the gym. Horvath bought it and got geared up but before he jumped in the room Steenhuis sold us out and told the youngster Dawson was just messing with him (sewering him, in Canadian jargon).
Syracuse signee Ryan Burnam and Denver-signee Jeremy Noble joined us for the shootaround, which was basically everyone just ripping shots at Horvath in goal. Steenhuis went down early in a game of P-I-G, but he came back to win, knocking out Dawson first before Merrill went down.
We got some great interviews with the three. Dawson’s just as good interviewing as he is pulling practical jokes, and the exchanges between him and Steenhuis and Merrill were fantastic. Great story from Dawson and Merrill about an early brawl in box lacrosse that pitted the two against each other. Both are pretty built guys now but back then apparently they were tall and skinny; Dawson described the fight as “two supermodels going at it.”
After that we bummed a ride from Merrill back downtown and did a quick Cribs segment at his pad that overlooks the historic St. Lawrence Market. Great work by his girlfriend Alex on planting the stack of Inside Lacrosse Magazines in the office — and for the framed January 2007 IL that featured Brodie on the cover. The view from the complex’s rooftop deck is pretty amazing, by the way.
Thanks in part to the large volume of stuff we got and the fact that we’re moving offices this week, Sweeney wasn’t able to get everything edited and posted. But this is a taste, and the rest will be up next week.
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