Many young athletes grow up with dreams of playing for their favourite team and in the case of Toronto Rock first round draft pick Ethan O’Connor, that dream became reality.
O’Connor was eight year’s old when the Rock played their inaugural season at Maple Leaf Gardens, just four years earlier, his parents had signed him up to play minor lacrosse for the Mavericks in his hometown of Milton, Ontario.
“I don’t even really remember when I first started playing,” Says Ethan, who played minor lacrosse in Milton all the way up to Midget. “It was just something we did, even my sisters played.”
“Growing up in Milton, we always played “C” ball, I scored a lot of goals and we always competed, but as I got older I wanted to push myself and I wanted to compete at a higher level.”
Looking for more of a test, O’Connor approached Stuart Brown, who at the time was coaching the Oakville Buzz Jr. B team. Brown encouraged Ethan to try out for Jr. B as a Midget-aged player. Sure enough, O’Connor made the Buzz as one of the final players chosen, a testament to his work ethic.
“That experience just pushed me, it taught me more than I would have learned playing my final year in Midget. My lacrosse career just kind of took off from there.”
O’Connor was traded from Oakville and would split the 2010 season with the Burlington Chiefs Jr. A and the Halton Hills Jr. B Bulldogs, playing over 30 regular season games, 17 playoff games and winning a Founders Cup, the Canadian Jr. B Championship.
“It was the biggest moment of my lacrosse career,” says O’Connor. “GM Mike Hancock and Head Coach Blaine McCauley are two people that had a big influence on m development, pushing me and encouraging me to lead the team and really pushing me to work harder every game.”
His skills are not just limited to box lacrosse either, O’Connor spent two years at Prep School before embarking on fours years of NCAA Division I field lacrosse at Hobart College.
“Looking back on it, it went by quick. It was a different brand of lacrosse, but I learned a lot and it was a great experience!”
O’Connor enjoyed a very successful first season of Major Series Lacrosse where he was named the rookie of the year while playing for the Brampton Excelsiors. A highly touted defensive prospect entering the 2013 NLL Draft, O’Connor attended the NLL Combine in Oakville in September. He attended the draft the following day with his family and heard his name called as the 9th overall pick by the Toronto Rock in the first round.
“It truly was a dream come true. I couldn’t have asked to be part of a better organization and it’s the team I grew up watching.”
O’Connor entered training camp looking to make an impact and he did just that, impressing GM Terry Sanderson and new Head Coach John Lovell, earning a spot on the 20-man roster heading into the 2014 season.
“I want to be able to contribute,” says Ethan. I’m not done learning and I’m not done growing as a lacrosse player.”
Sixteen years after he attended his first Rock game as an eight year old, O’Connor will pull on his number 37 Rock jersey and enter the floor as a player.
“I’m really excited, I’ve always been in the stands. I’m looking forward to being on the floor and looking up into the stands.”