BY DALLAS SMITH
WINNIPEG, Manitoba—With the National Lacrosse League’s Season in full swing, it would remiss if we did not focus on one of Manitoba’s own who is currently competing in the professional box league for the Rochester Knighthawks.
Luc Magnan’s lacrosse experience began in his hometown of Pine Falls, Manitoba where Larry Sharpe, a Professional Boxing Champion and now local gym teacher, introduced Magnan to the game of lacrosse. In eighth grade, he watched his older brother Jean-Paul Magnan play on the high school lacrosse team. Magnan describes watching his brother play, as a key factor in growing his interest. Magnan states, “Anyone that has an older brother understands me when I say, whatever your older brother does whether it is something new or not, you want to do it too. I had an opportunity to play in grade 9 with my brother for Powerview school. After my first year, I discovered box lacrosse, and pursued to play for the Ojibway Nationals (Thank You, Mike Gilbert).”
After playing for Powerview and Ojibway, Magnan moved to Ontario to attend The Hill Academy. After completing the Twelfth Grade and completing a Post-Graduate year, Magnan received a lacrosse and academic scholarship to play NCAA Division I lacrosse at Robert Morris University(RMU).
Between attending the Hill Academy and playing for the Colonials, Magnan also played box lacrosse for several Junior teams, including the Ojibway Nationals, Winnipeg Gryphons, Toronto Beaches and the Six Nations Arrows. Upon graduating from RMU, he went on to play Senior A for the Brampton Excelsiors. In the same year, Magnan went seventeenth overall to the Toronto Rock in the NLL Draft. Currently, Magnan works as a teacher and lacrosse coach at The Hill Academy, while also playing for the Rochester Knighthawks.
Magnan’s lacrosse journey encompasses nearly every level of lacrosse from rural Manitoba, to a premier High-School lacrosse program, to a Division I Program in the United States, and currently professional playing experience with the Rochester Knighthawks. Magnan’s interview highlights the importance of hard-work, dedication, and perseverance. Furthermore, he highlights key attributes of not only successful lacrosse players, but also successful people, citizens, employees, and students, when he speaks about discipline and “the process.” Magnan’s attachment to his process and routine is commendable and aptly shows a pathway to be successful in athletics.
Describe the transition from High School to University to the NLL. What challenges did you face at each level?
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity from my parents and family to go to The Hill Academy. At The Hill, the Merrill family did an amazing job putting me in situations and giving me opportunities to succeed. The Hill prepared me for university extensively. Of course, I faced challenges both personally and athletically. However, the most important thing to remember at that level is sticking to the process. I wasn’t the best player, but I trusted the process and worked hard at it. I wasn’t perfect by any means. I needed to be kicked in the butt more than a few times, but I never quit. I never quit and always gave it everything I had.
Last season in Toronto, we didn’t have a very successful season. I played roughly half the season and was up and down from the practice roster. This season I was released by Toronto and picked up by Rochester. I am on currently the practice roster and battling every day trying to get back in the lineup. Obviously, I want to play, but what is more important is being a good teammate. Always supporting the team and doing whatever you can for the team. If I want to get back in the lineup, I have to control the controllables(sic). Am I working out every day? What am I putting into my body? Am I being a good teammate or a team cancer complaining about why I am not in the lineup?
At any level, athletes are always going to face similar challenges. As athletes, we have two choices, complain about it, feel sorry for yourself, and ultimately be a team cancer or do everything in your power as an individual to be the absolute best player you can be. When the time comes and the coach calls your name, you know you’ll be ready.
How has playing at Robert Morris University, a Division I Program, helped you transition to the NLL? What essential skills did you build during your time at school that has served you well at the next level?
At Robert Morris, we played a “Run N’ Gun” style game. Being able to handle the ball more often as a pole and having the ability to play more aggressively on my match up helped me develop. Moreover, some great players who are playing in the NLL right now surrounded me and encouraged me to play in the NLL.
Describe your time at Robert Morris University. How has playing lacrosse while receiving a great education benefited you personally?
It is something I will never forget and always be grateful for. I met some of my best friends at school and got to pursue a dream. I definitely don’t take it for granted. Being a part of a team while you’re in university is special. Our team was very family oriented and I wouldn’t change a thing. I learned a lot about myself, and I’m very grateful for the experience.
How has coaching talented lacrosse players at the Hill Academy helped you with your own game? Do you see the field differently? Are there subtleties that you pick up with coaching that has led you to improve your own game?
This question is something we have been recently talking about among our coaching staff. I will never tell my players to do something I’m not willing to do. However, when I’m playing, in the back of my mind I know the players are watching. There are times when I use “self-talk,” where I find myself thinking, “I would have yelled at ‘Billy’ for that or I wouldn’t want my players scooping a one-handed groundball, etc…” I do my best to hold myself accountable as a player and lead by example. Due to this, I can teach and preach with confidence.
Describe your emotions about being the seventeenth overall pick in the 2015 NLL Draft.
Honestly, I blacked out once my name was called. It’s something I worked extremely hard for and wasn’t even sure if I would be drafted. It was a surreal feeling. It was a special moment I shared with my parents. If it wasn’t for them and my two brothers, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I was extremely proud to be drafted by Toronto, a team both Patrick and Brodie Merrill play for. I was fortunate enough to play with two guys that have changed my life forever. Along with my parents, they have molded me into the player and person I am today. Being a good teammate and a good person is more important than being a great player, this is something my parents and the Merrill family taught me.
The structure of university lacrosse is very different than the NLL, it is a lot less structured and regimented. How do you prepare for a season, with regards to keeping your lacrosse fundamentals sharp and ensuring you’re in the best possible shape heading into the season?
Obviously, in university, you’re essentially forced into a routine; you work out, practice, and attend classes, the routine helps you stay focused and keep on track. In the NLL, you must hold yourself accountable. You must be self-motivated and make sure you are doing the right things. Luckily, I’m surrounded by some great teammates who hold themselves to the highest standards. When you have the leadership on a team like we do, you want to always be better and give everything you have. Moreover, at work, I am surrounded by guys at The Hill Academy who are playing in the NLL. We’re always checking in with each other and holding each other accountable. Sometimes it turns into a bit of a competition in the weight room or even what you’re eating for lunch. We’re always trying to one-up one another.
How about during the week leading up to the game? Any specific regiment you follow?
I make sure that I get my lifts in each day and follow the workout program provided by our team strength and conditioning coach Dan Noble. I make sure I am eating healthy. I make sure I watch film and study the scout. Also, ensuring I’m getting a good night sleep and sticking to my routine. If I stray away from my routine, I find I’m not as prepared as I would like to be. In terms of superstitions, I don’t have any. I just prepare the best I can to ensure I’m confident in all areas and aspects heading into that week’s game.
You’re now a member of the Rochester Knighthawks, so I guess the two most important questions have you had a Garbage Plate and have you visited arguably the best grocery store in North America in Wegmans?
Wegmans is a must! Every time I travel down to Rochester, I have to go to Wegmans. It is my favorite store. It offers a great healthy selection and some of my favorite drinks are there.
I will admit that I have had a garbage plate before at a lacrosse tournament coaching. They are fantastic.
If you had one piece of advice to give to younger players in Manitoba, what would it be?
Enjoy every minute of the game and every chance you get to play. Be a good teammate and a good person. Respect the game. Bring the Blue-Collar mentality to the game that our province was built on. Bring it to the field and never take a shift off. Enjoy the process.
Sometimes you face challenges and adversity along the way. Don’t expect your journey to be easy or given to you. You have to go out and earn it! Ask Manitoba lacrosse player Brett Newton. He has been battling a serious brain injury for the past two years and is close to making his return. He is a “Toba” boy who exemplifies GRIT. So if you think you’ve had it tough, someone else has it worse.
If you have a dream to play at the next level, then set goals and make it happen. We are an up-and- coming lacrosse province. Yes, our numbers have dropped in the minor programs, but more players are playing at some of the highest levels. We can play with the best in Canada, it’s not unrealistic anymore.
We have some great people in the province who work extremely hard to provide the best lacrosse experience for players. Use them and learn from them. I did and I think I ended up okay. Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to older players or even myself. Manitoba lacrosse is a small community that I hold close to my heart. Let me know if you young kids have questions. I will do my best to answer.
Magnan and the Rochester Knighthawks will square off against the Toronto Rock this Saturday at 6:30 pm (CST), you can watch their games live on NLL TV.
For the full Knighthawks schedule, visit their website.