Some National Lacrosse League players can go their entire careers and never win a championship, but Johnny Powless was able to win the coveted Champion’s Cup his first year in the league. Powless was a member of the 2012 Rochester Knighthawks, who hoisted the Cup 96 days after his 19th birthday — making him one of the youngest players to ever win a NLL championship. Powless wasn’t just the youngest member of the team, but he was one of the leading contributors and a huge component to the team’s success. There were doubters when the 18-year-old Powless was drafted 5th overall by Rochester. He had proved himself in the Junior ranks for Six Nations, but his youth and lack of experience at the NLL level were causes for concern. Powless didn’t let the negativity hold him back.
“For a little while I tried to use the negativity as motivation, but I realized that any negativity isn’t good,” Powless told ILIndoor. “I looked at everything in a positive way instead, just getting drafted, having so much support from family and friends. That seemed to work much better.”
The transition into the NLL is never an easy one, and it took Powless several weeks before he got up to speed.
“I could tell the difference right from the first training camp,” Powless said. “All the guys were much quicker and stronger then in Jrs. It was frustrating at times but I’m glad I was able to adapt quickly.”
Powless attributes a level of his success to his teammates — he was able to learn a lot from the veterans on the team.
“Everyone was really friendly,” he said. “I built some good chemistry with Joe Walters and Pat McCready.”
Powless managed to overcome a slow start and live up to his hype — he finished fourth on the team in scoring, won the league’s Sportsmanship Award, and won a NLL championship. Winning an NLL championship is never an easy task and Powless claims that it is one of his greatest accomplishments and he was happy just to play.
Now he’s gearing up for his second training camp and will prepare to defend the Champion’s Cup with his Knighthawk teammates. The road back to the playoffs is not an easy one, but Powless is no stranger to tough times. He is looking to build of his success from last season.
“I think I proved myself last year but I’m always looking to improve,” said Powless.
One good thing about winning the Champion’s Cup at such a young age is that there are plenty of more opportunities to win it again and Powless couldn’t agree more.
“Last season was a great year for us, I had a lot of fun playing and hopefully there are many more to come.”
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