Rich Morgan, a 6’8” transition player for the Minnesota Swarm, began his NLL career in 2004 with the Anaheim Storm. The Port Coquitlam, British Columbia native went on to play for the Portland Lumberjax before coming to Minnesota in 2010.
Prior to lacrosse, Morgan attended Boise State and received his bachelor’s degree in social science while also playing basketball. He pursued a professional basketball career before ultimately choosing a life with two of his other loves; his wife and lacrosse.
Jessica Baltes from the Minnesota Swarm recently caught up with Rich Morgan.
Baltes: A lot of lacrosse players tend to have jobs outside of the NLL. What do you do when you aren’t playing lacrosse?
Morgan: I am a service technician for a company called Source Refrigeration & Hvac. I’m pretty much a commercial refrigeration repair man.
Baltes: Is it difficult trying to manage two jobs, a family and traveling?
Morgan: Yeah, it is. Obviously, it would be difficult if I didn’t enjoy what I do, but because I honestly love playing lacrosse that makes it a lot easier. I have a busy schedule and it’s non-stop from when I get up in the morning to when I go to sleep at night. I just pretty much keep it simple. My wife understands and she’s very cool with it. She understands that I love lacrosse and enjoy playing it. That’s why I love her. She allows me to do the things that I love, and I allow her to do things that she loves. I’m sure that without my wife making the sacrifices that she makes, I wouldn’t be able to do this. I’m thankful to have her in my life. It’s busy, so I just keep it really simple. I prioritize, set my goals, and do what needs to be done to accomplish those goals.
Baltes: You are entering your ninth season in the NLL and your third season with the Swarm. Being one of the most veteran members of the team, do you feel that you now play more of a leadership role with this fairly young team?
Morgan: I’m not really an outspoken guy, so I just try to lead by example. Every game I expect myself to play 100%. I hope that when guys see me out there working hard that it spreads throughout the team. Every guy on our team is a leader. Some of them don’t have a lot of experience, but they are professional athletes for a reason. They have gone where they have gone being leaders on their teams.
For the most part, I try to help guys out if they ask questions and give them my best answer, but I just try to go out there and do my best, whether it's at practice or games.
Baltes: In the NLL, there is very limited practice time for the players. How would you say that the new team has come together so far?
Morgan: It’s difficult not practicing much. The coaches and the ownership obviously have a plan in place that they want us to buy into. It’s very difficult when we are not with each other and having practices to go over it, but we have a good group of guys who are willing to listen and they are buying into it. It’s just going to take time. There will be highs and lows to begin with. We have definitely progressed since training camp to our first game. A lot of the stuff in our first game was just a lot of mental mistakes that are easy to clean up. It’s not like we were outworked. It was just stuff that is easy to be fixed.
Baltes: Both of your brothers, David and Peter, are former lacrosse players as well. At one point, you all played on the Portland Lumberjax at the same time. What was it like playing with your brothers?
Morgan: It was awesome. We are a pretty close family, and my brothers are like my best friends. When everyone grows up and goes their separate ways in life, you don’t always get that much time to see your family members. With us all playing on the same professional lacrosse team, it was definitely an awesome experience. Something we will always remember.
Baltes: It must have been rather intimidating for the opponents with all three of you on the same team! You are 6’8” and your brothers are 6’6” and 6’10.” I can’t help but wonder…how tall are your parents?
Morgan: My dad is 6’5” and my mom is 5’8”. Good genes. Definitely lucky to have tall parents, but at the same time my parents also instilled a good work ethic. Anyone can be tall or whatever, but it also takes hard work and a lot of dedication to do what you want to do.
Baltes: I read that you once pursued a basketball career. You played Division 1 and you also played professionally overseas in Greece for a year. What was that experience like?
Morgan: It was good. I went to Boise State for five years and played basketball. I was able to go overseas for a year and play in Greece. I met my wife during my senior year, so it was kind of a long distance relationship. I had to make the decision of whether I wanted to play professional basketball and live overseas for the rest of my life, or see where it could go with my wife. I think that I made the better decision. I’m happily married and have two beautiful kids, so I think that I made the right choice.
Any time you have a new experience in life, you learn a lot from it. It was definitely a learning experience going over there and playing with a different culture, environment, seeing different parts of the world. It was definitely a cool experience, and I enjoyed it.
Baltes: Lacrosse is often compared to both hockey and basketball. Do you find that you use a similar skill set in going from basketball to lacrosse?
Morgan: Sure. The fundamentals are the same in both sports. So like on defense and offense, there is pick and roll. Definitely a lot of things cross over from all different sports. That’s why lacrosse is a sweet sport. There are multiple facets of every single sport in it. That’s why I enjoy it. I definitely took a lot from basketball and crossed it over to lacrosse. It’s helped me in a lot of ways. Especially being a bigger guy, it helped me with my foot work and on defense understanding certain situations.
Baltes: The home opener against the Buffalo Bandits is coming up on Saturday. Since the team doesn’t get much practice time together, what do you do to prepare yourself?
Morgan: I pretty much work all day, come home, eat dinner with the family and then when the kids go to bed around 8, I go to the local gym and do the things that the strength and conditioning coaches have shown us to get better. I just try to go off of that, try to keep my endurance up, and do things that stimulate a lacrosse game. I keep my stick in my hand and keep my skills fresh. Whatever it takes to improve myself each day, make myself a better lacrosse player and make our team better.
Baltes: What are your expectations for the team going into the second game of the season?
Morgan: Just to learn from our mistakes from game one. You can’t make easy mental mistakes. You’re playing against the best lacrosse players in the world and they will take full advantage of them. Obviously, we are inexperienced. Most of the teams are experienced and have been in those situations, so they definitely pounce on any mistake that we make. We just have to be very disciplined in this game against Buffalo, especially playing a team who has John Tavares who is like the best lacrosse player in the world. He’s probably one of the smartest guys who has ever played the game, so he’ll definitely take advantage of any mistakes that we make. We just have to be really smart and disciplined, listen to what the coaches have to say and stick to our game plan.