Rochester Knighthawks forward Joel McCready is the team’s lone representative this summer in the Senior “A” circuit in the Western Lacrosse Association. So far this season, the 22 year old has made the most of his opportunity and has become a major contributor to the Langley Thunder. He is also living a lifestyle that the cast on MTV’s “Real World” would be envious.
“Playing for Langley has been a blast this summer. We have a good young team with a bunch of beauty guys who have welcomed me with open arms,” he said. “British Columbia is a gorgeous, laid-back place and I’ve been fortunate enough to have some downtime for some great fishing and boating.”
The St. Catharines, Ontario, native headed west this summer not only play lacrosse, but to pursue a career as a firefighter. McCready continues to apply to different fire departments and improve his credentials and knowledge of the business.
“I am actively seeking employment within the field and know that it is worth all the hard work to have the career you dream of,” he said. “I am currently waiting to hear back from the departments as they will be doing their hiring this fall.”
On the turf, McCready is fourth in points for the Thunder with 48 (31+17) in 16 games. He is one of the young stars on the team that includes two of last year’s top National Lacrosse League rookies, Garrett Billings and Stephan Leblanc. McCready has learned a lot of the two Toronto Rock snipers.
“I’m actually living with three guys from the Rock and there’s plenty of chirping back and forth. They’re a great group of guys, but I keep telling them how fun it’s going to be to beat them this winter,” said McCready. “We’ve got a really nice place in Langley and it’s kind of like the Lacrosse House for the team. There’s always people crashing for the night and staying for days at a time. It’s been a lot of fun.”
In 2011, the former second-round selection enters his third season in the NLL with the Knighthawks. He has a lot to build on after a season that earned him Most Improved Player honors. He saw an increase in playing time as he played in 10 games and recorded four points (2+2) and 33 loose balls.
“I have kind of been a student of the game these past two seasons being able to watch and practice with such amazing players. If you ever told me growing up I’d be playing with (John Grant) Jr., Gary Gait, or coached by Paul Gait, I would have laughed,” he said. “These are guys I had autographed posters of in my room growing up. I have learned so much these past two seasons and want to contribute everything I can to the 2011 Rochester Knighthawks. I am really excited about this winter and am going to bust my butt this offseason to be ready.”
In 2009, McCready was a highly coveted prospect from the Junior “A” lacrosse St. Catharines Athletics of the Ontario Lacrosse Association. Name recognition did not hurt either with his uncle Pat an established player in the NLL and his grandfather, Robert “Buff” McCready, one of best goalies to ever play the game. Joel attributes his success to his family and the guidance of both men.
“It’s funny, even on the other side of the country everyone seems to have a ‘Buffer’ story or a story about something funny Pat did while he was out here. You can tell just how special my grandfather was by the way people smile when they talk about him,” said Joel. “I owe a lot to these two and am very thankful they took the time to play backyard lacrosse with me and teach me the game.”Rybczynski currently works as the play-by-play broadcaster and Vice President of Communications for the National Lacrosse League’s Rochester Knighthawks. His role also includes managing the communications for the Rochester Americans hockey club and the Hamilton Nationals (MLL) media relations, as well as serving as Team USA's WILC media relations manager.
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