Swarm forward Corbyn Tao was one of the franchise’s standout rookies last season posting 39 points (18g, 21a) in his first year as an NLL player. Tao also collected 63 loose balls and even made sizable contributions in the team’s two playoff games last May, scoring four points (3g, 1a) in that span.
However, the Coquitlam, British Columbia, native is not focusing on personal successes heading into the Swarm’s 2013 home opener Saturday, Jan. 26 on Treasure Island Field at Xcel Energy Center. In fact, Tao is looking to set up his teammates for more success this year and feed off of one another on the offensive end.
The Swarm added considerable firepower to their front line this offseason, selecting T Kiel Matisz and F Shayne Jackson third and fourth overall in the 2012 NLL Entry Draft.
In the following question and answer session, Tao discusses what parts of his game he is looking to improve to make it easier to play with so many other talented players, what it’s like living in “Neverland”, the Native American history of lacrosse, and he even reveals who the cleanliest (and messiest!) players on the team are.
Satzinger: I’ve heard that you volunteer at the Prairie Island Indian Community Lacrosse Program. What specifically do you do there?
Tao: I spend my time at Prairie Island coaching kids and teaching them some basic box lacrosse skills. The Swarm as a whole also does a great deal of focusing on more than just the sport in youth development. A goal of mine is to try to do that everywhere I go, play with the kids and give back.
Satzinger: Aside from volunteering and playing for the Swarm, what do you do in your spare time?
Tao: I’m always hanging out with my teammates. We obviously play a lot of lacrosse together and also like to relax from time to time.
Satzinger: I’ve noticed on Twitter that you sometimes post pictures of what you and your teammates are doing at your apartment building, called “Neverland”. What’s something funny or interesting about “Neverland” that you can share with Swarm fans?
Tao: It is what it is, that’s why we call it Neverland. We all have fun there and like to be with each other. As teammates we do a ton of stuff together and it’s a great environment to do all of the things we enjoy doing as a team.
Satzinger: As a second-year player, what’s something in your lacrosse game you’re looking to build on now that you’re acclimated to the NLL?
Tao: Personally I’m an off-ball player, so I want to try to command the ball more so that I can in turn free up my teammates more. At the end of last year I decided that I wanted to be more fit going into this season to make a run at a Champions Cup with the Swarm and that’s definitely something that I’ve accomplished.
Satzinger: Looking on your mnswarm.com bio page, your pet peeve listed is “messiness”. Who’s the messiest player on the team?
Tao: (Laughing) I know walking over to Joel Henry’s apartment that Shayne Jackson’s room is pretty messy. Other than that, Jordan MacIntosh and Andrew Suitor have a lot of cleanliness going on.
Satzinger: You’re one of several Robert Morris University alumni on the Swarm this season, along with Andrew Watt, Jeff Gilbert, Pat Smith and rookie Kiel Matisz. How does it feel to be reunited with some old teammates that share common ties with you?
Tao: It definitely feels good and it’s nice to play with them again. You know, it’s nice to develop more together after playing college lacrosse and now being in the NLL. It’s a great thing to build on and it’s just really great to have some of my old teammates still with me.
Satzinger: As a member of the Nishga tribe, what does the Native American history of lacrosse mean to you?
Tao: What really stands out to me is the heritage and pure love of the game that is a bit rare these days. With some cheating happening in sports now it’s great to see people competing at a high level simply for their enjoyment and appreciation of lacrosse.