The National Lacrosse League season is upon us! While the regular season doesn’t start for another month, the 2012 NLL Champion Rochester Knighthawks kick off the year tomorrow night for an exhibition game at the Blue Cross Arena. One of the players who won the Cup and is ready to jump-start this new season is Rochester native Joe Walters. Despite a rocky first few years adjusting to the indoor game, Walters scored 3 goals and added 13 assists in the regular season and, most importantly, scored 4 goals and had 9 assists in the playoffs en route to his first NLL title. I had the chance to interview Joe and discuss the Championship, exhibition game tomorrow night, and the upcoming season. Read away!
- CM: You’ve had a long offseason since winning the Championship in May. What did winning the Championship mean to you?
- JW: The championship meant a lot to me. My Knighthawks career thus far has been a bumpy road. It wasn’t until 2 summers ago that I made the decision that it was either sink or swim, so I committed myself to learning the box game and played in Canada for Coach Hasen and the Brampton Excelsiors. It wasn’t easy, as I was playing in the MLL for Hamilton, but I knew it was important in gaining as much experience as possible. I have never cried after winning a championship before, but after we won I was in tears. The emotions let out, knowing the path I took and how tough it was, it made it that much more meaningful, especially for the hometown team in front of the hometown fans.
- CM: Are the Knighthawks the favorite to go back-to-back and win the 2013 NLL Championship?
- JW: We return almost our entire team and add Casey Powell and a healthy Jordan Hall. It would be tough to say we aren’t the favorite. BUT, we can’t lose sight that we ended the regular season 7-9. We have a lot to improve on and repeating as champs will be tough. We have a target on our back, but we’re excited for the challenge, one game at a time.
- CM: What do the additions of Casey Powell and Paul Rabil bring to the Knighthawks?
- JW: I can only speak for Casey Powell as he has made the commitment and has been to training camp. He is obviously one of the greatest players of all time and is a addition that we are all excited about. As a righty, he will be a huge part of the offense, as he has a tremendous ability to create offense.
- CM: How big is the free exhibition game for lacrosse in the city of Rochester, bringing some fans in to watch the Knighthawks for the first time?
- JW: Having a free exhibition game is great for both the community and our team. It gives us a chance to play a game in our home arena, but our main goal is to offer a great night of lacrosse and entertainment to those who might not normally come see us play. We strongly believe that if you come see the sport of lacrosse once, you will be back.
- CM: What can we expect from you personally this season?
- JW: Personally, I just want to build on the 2012 season. After playing 2 summers with Brampton, I have more confidence in my indoor game. I never want to do too much, and I pride myself on being an unselfish player. Johnny Powless and I have formed great chemistry together, so my goal is to make him a superstar. You will see me being more aggressive, taking shots, because I need to be a threat to score. All in all, I just want to do whatever I can to help the team win and repeat as NLL champs.
There you have it Knighthawks fans! Joe Walters and your defending champion K-Hawks are ready for the season to start! Come check out the team in action tomorrow night, December 8th, at 8:00 pm at the Blue Cross Arena as they take on the Minnesota Swarm!