Ross has recorded 14 points (6g, 8a) in his last three games. Photo Credit: Alex Carroll
Forward Kevin Ross began his NLL career in 2008 after being selected by the Chicago Shamrox in the first round (12th overall) of the 2007 NLL Entry Draft. Prior to joining the league, the London, Ontario native spent four years at Canisius College where he led his team in scoring every year, racking up 126 goals and 185 points in 54 career games.
In 2009, Ross joined the Minnesota Swarm. Through 13 games this season, the 6’1” lefty forward has tallied a career-high 44 points (21g, 23a).
Jessica Baltes from the Minnesota Swarm recently caught up with Ross.
Baltes: When did you start playing lacrosse and how did you get into it?
Ross: I started playing lacrosse around my third birthday. My mom took me to a daycare and the lady there was big into lacrosse. She always saw me playing hockey and playing different sports around the daycare, so she suggested that my mom take me down to the local lacrosse rink. She did, and I’ve been playing ever since.
Baltes: You were selected in the first round of the 2007 NLL Entry Draft. You started your career with the Chicago Shamrox in 2008 and have been with the Swarm since 2009. I noticed that you have played your entire professional career with Callum Crawford. How have both of your games evolved since you started out?
Ross: Callum came in a little bit before me. Once I started playing with him, we had pretty similar roles at Chicago. We were kind of just depth players and provided some more options on our respective sides of the floor.
We took different routes here to Minnesota. He started taking over his role as more of a playmaker and a go-to-guy on offense, whereas I was kind of a bigger body and a goal scorer in my role. We have both come full circle now, and I think that we are both at the peak of our careers.
Baltes: A lot of NLL players have jobs outside of lacrosse. What do you do when you aren't playing for the Swarm?
Ross: I used to work in real estate, but now I am actually a MBA student.
Baltes: Do you have the opportunity to get much practice in during the week or how do you keep sharp for the games?
Ross: I am a volunteer coach for a college team, so I’m always around lacrosse even when I’m not with the Swarm. I’m around lacrosse every day.
I’m in the gym and running two, three, hopefully four days a week depending on how the work schedule allows me to do that.
Baltes: In 2009 and 2011, you won the Mann Cup with the MSL's Brampton Excelsiors. Will you be back playing there this summer?
Ross: That is yet to be decided. It’s going to depend on my schooling. Right now, that is sort of my number one priority. If it allows me to get back there, I’d love to. Both of the Mann Cups that we won were out in Western Canada, so I’d love to get the chance to compete for one back home and to have my family and friends come to see. Playing for Brampton is awesome and if it works out, I’d love to be back.
Baltes: What has been the highlight of the 2012 season for you personally or team wise? Is there a particular game, play, goal, etc. that sticks out?
Ross: I think that there are two highlights for us as a team so far. The first being the first two wins that we had against Edmonton and Rochester, that home and home weekend that we had a few weeks ago. We beat Edmonton in overtime and then came out and beat Rochester on Sunday. I think that really solidified us as one of the better teams in the league and not just a rebuilding team.
The other highlight would be this past weekend playing against Philadelphia who is one of the powerhouses in the league. We really took it to them and played a complete game even without our leading scorer Ryan Benesch. Even without him we were able to come together, pick up enough goals and our defense was spectacular. So, those two really stick out for me this year.
Baltes: You have already posted a career-highs in points (44) and goals (21)...and the season isn't even over yet. What do you think has led to that?
Ross: We made a lot of moves in the offseason and everyone had to adjust their roles. Maybe in past years I was more of a guy to get other guys open and help the offense that way. Now, I have the ball a little bit more. Being relied on to score goals and being on the power play, I have to make plays when I have the opportunity. It was just sort of an opportunity that I was presented with this year with the new personnel that we have gone with. I just took the opportunity and ran with it. So far, so good.
Baltes: How would you describe the role that you play on the team? Being the most veteran guy on the left side, and with Ryan Benesch out the past few games, do you find that role has changed?
Ross: Yeah, especially with Benny out it has changed a little bit more. I’ve found that with Benny being gone I’ve had the ball in my stick a lot more. I just try to, not fill his shoes, but do the best that I can to minimize the impact of him not being around.
Other than that, I think that my role is to play with Ryan a lot, to play with the guys on the left side and try to get them open, and also to carry the ball when Ryan is not on the floor. Maybe I’m a bit more of a playmaker this season than I was in past seasons with the Swarm.
Baltes: A lot of your shots tend to come from around the crease. You have a lot of diving shots and shots from the back of the net for instance. Is that one of your favorite types of shots?
Ross: I tried that shot in practice just before our second game of the year and it worked. I talked to our goalie, and he said, ‘Yeah, because the goalies are committed from post to post to try and cover any quick shots from the crease. They aren’t really thinking that you are going to dive around the net.’ It may look like a bit of a trick shot, but it’s been something that I have been pretty successful with this season and want to keep going to.
In terms of most of my goals coming from the crease, I think that’s probably because I am a bigger body on offense. I can use my size to get to the net a little bit better than a smaller player.
Baltes: Going into the game this weekend against Washington, the season series stands tied at 1-1. Does the fact that you guys have already played this team twice give you more confidence going into it? What will be the keys to defeating them?
Ross: Having the chance to win a season series against a team in your division is great. So if we win this game, if we win this series against Washington that is great going into the playoffs seeing how things shake out.
On the other side of that, Washington has ended my season the last two years in Minnesota. They have knocked us out of the playoffs. You always have a special place for them in your head when you are getting up for a game like this. You definitely want to be able to get some redemption for what they’ve done to us the past two years.
Baltes: This Saturday is College Night at the Hive. You went to Canisius College. Where is that located? What did you study while you were there?
Ross: It is in Buffalo, NY. I played on the lacrosse team there, and I studied International Business.
Baltes: Do you have any particular memories that stick out from your lacrosse days there?
Ross: Definitely the first game. It was February and it was freezing cold. You have the nerves going, but it’s great to know that you are playing a Division I sport with friends and family there watching you. That was pretty cool.
My first goal sticks out for sure. That’s a pretty cool feeling being a freshman and having the older guys getting all pumped up for you when you score your first goal.
And then probably my last home game of my senior year. My family and friends were there and all of my extended family came down to watch the game. We won, and I had a pretty good game. I scored a few goals. Those were probably the highlights for me.