Name a lacrosse league and there’s a pretty good chance Cam Holding plays in it. Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But Holding keeps himself busy in the game. His commitment to lacrosse has led to plenty of time on the highway and now it’s fuelled the launch of Power Play Lacrosse, a company he’s started up in his adopted hometown of Lansing, Michigan. The sport is in his blood and he’s working to spread the gospel of lax.
While Lansing isn’t exactly a lacrosse hotbed, Holding did grow up in one. He’s a Whitby boy and a little thing like moving at age 16 to a city a five-plus-hour drive across the border because of his father’s work with General Motors wasn’t going to stop him from being a Warrior. So Holding hit the road from major midget on, including three years’ worth of Whitby Jr A games, and has continued to rack up the miles as a member of MSL’s Brooklin Redmen the last two summers.
Now he’s also a member of the Colorado Mammoth, having spent a successful rookie season with the budding West Division powerhouse. That’s not it for his playing time, however. Holding, who plays a defence/transition role for both top-level teams, moonlights as a scoring star in the Midwest Indoor Lacrosse Association. MILA’s a long way from the big time, but it does offer some benefits that have lured Holding to suit up the last couple of autumns.
Topping the list of attractions for Holding is the chance to play with the Grand Rapids Dragonfish’s veteran goaltender, none other than his father Dave. The senior Holding was a Warrior and a Redman as well. He won a Minto Cup championship in 1984 and spent a year with Brooklin before moving on to spend much of his senior career in St. Catharines. Suiting up with his dad was a big factor in Cam’s decision to become a Dragonfish. “It’s cool because I don’t think a lot of people will ever have the opportunity to do that,” Holding told IL Indoor.
Another benefit of the league is a chance to build some confidence at the other end of the floor. Russ King, who was one of Holding’s coaches in club lacrosse in Michigan, is GM of the Dragonfish and asked him to come out for the team. “I figured it would be a good way to touch up on my offensive skills going into the NLL because I’m primarily a transition player going out of the D end.”
Record-keeping in MILA isn’t exactly complete and up-to-date, but what is available shows that Holding is one of the offensive stars of the league. The Dragonfish are actually the only team that reported any of their stats to the league, but the three games for which their information shows up on the site is revealing. Holding was the top scorer with 20 points in three games, including first with 9 assists and second to teammate Tyler Harris (a fellow Ontarian who played in CLax last year) with 11 goals.
Holding says the half dozen or so games he’s played in the MILA each year have helped him feel more comfortable pushing transition in his other leagues. He certainly looked more comfortable in his second MSL season with Brooklin and played a bigger role in their success in 2012, when they finished first in the East Division and beat the Peterborough Lakers three out of four games in the regular season.
He says he’s hoping his growing confidence will make him a little bolder in Colorado, as well. “For me it’s cool because I have players on my team look to me to take charge, which is what I need. In the NLL, if I run the ball up the floor I’m too shy to even think about going to the net or take a shot. I’ve got John Grant, Jr. beside me and I’m going to dish him the ball.”
His coach with the Mammoth would be pleased to see Holding take more initiative. “Sometimes I’d have Coach [Bob] Hamley saying ‘You’ve got to drive the net a little bit more, drive the net a little bit more.’ So for me, to play in the MILA it was kind of a little offensive confidence booster, to say you can get there.
“Two summers ago in MSL and then last year in NLL I was a rookie, so I was still a little timid, a little shy. I think stepping up to this year I’ve got a little more confidence. I mean I’ve been working my ass off, too. I hope to be a little more of a force in the box this year.”
It worked out for him in the summer. “Going into the MSL [in 2012], it was like, ‘I’ve got a season of NLL under my belt, I should be able to step it up.’ I just think I took a little bit more chances that I wouldn’t have taken my rookie year and they came out for the best.”
The potential for on-floor growth isn’t the only benefit Holding sees in playing with the Dragonfish, though. It’s helping him develop the coaching side of his life, as well. “The looks aren’t there that you’d expect playing with the guys in the MSL or NLL that they would understand and know what to do. But for me, I like that, because then it forces me to stop and teach, which also helps me understand a little bit more and it helps develop my game as well.”
Speaking of coaching, Dave played a role in Cameron’s evolution in that area, too. “Dad does provide me with a lot of advice. He’s coached his whole life—he’s coached me my whole life.” Dave was also the impetus behind the creation of what is now Power Play Lacrosse. “A few years ago my dad said to me, ‘You should do a lacrosse camp this summer.’ I just said, yeah, whatever. I didn’t do it that summer,” Holding relates. “Then he said it to me again and I thought, you know what, I will do one. And I started doing it and my partner Tadas [Anuzis] approached me and said he was looking to do some lacrosse stuff.”
So now Holding and Anuzis run Power Play Lacrosse, which keeps him pretty busy on top of his own schedule, which includes NLL January-May, MSL May-August (and, he hopes, into September for the Mann Cup) and MILA August-October. Then, of course, NLL training camp opens again in November. “It’s non-stop. And that’s just playing. Then during the week I’m coaching. Summer tournaments, I’ve got six weekends during the summer I’m gone. I do training programs, camps, leagues, you name it.”
In case it doesn’t come across on the page, Holding isn’t complaining. He loves the game and if something will help to grow lacrosse, he’s up for it. “It’s all about growing the game. If I can do a camp in Michigan, Grand Rapids, Florida, wherever. If it’s going to help benefit the game, I’m all for it,” Holding says. “The way that we price things, we’re not out to make money. I’m out so that I can continue to run the business and obviously make enough to live off of but it’s moreso for growing the game and helping the kids out. The kids that want to play, I don’t want to shun them away from being able to play because it’s too expensive.”
The game is taking off in Michigan, he says, both indoors and outdoors. He’s seeing a lot of interest in the box in particular, though. “The box game is exploding here,” Holding says. “For Dragonfish games, I’ll run a free clinic for anyone who wants to come out. That’s going to help to grow the game. And the kids who come and do it, all they want to do is more box lacrosse, more box lacrosse.”
More box lacrosse, more box lacrosse. That sounds like Cam Holding’s mantra.Stamp is a TV sports announcer and lacrosse lover whose skill set made him a defender but who always dreamed of being a goal-scorer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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