Swarm forward Ryan Benesch scores and dishes out assists so often that it can be difficult to recognize all of the other things he does for the team and community. In wake of captain Andrew Suitor’s season-ending knee injury, the Kitchener, Ontario native has stepped in as one of the Swarm’s leaders. He gives the younger players on the team advice and has been helping Shayne Jackson along during his breakout rookie season as well.
Less than a week removed from reaching more than 300 career points in a Swarm uniform, Benesch is not as interested in talking about himself. Rather, the lefty forward acknowledges the efforts of his teammates who do a lot of the dirty work that make his scoring outbursts possible. Moreover, despite his 129 career goals with Minnesota (Benesch is two shy of Sean Pollock's team record of 131) the lefty forward is looking forward to helping out another cause in this Saturday’s home game against the Washington Stealth: the Randy Shaver Cancer Research & Community Fund.
In the following Q&A session, “Beni” discusses his leadership role on a young Swarm team, the significance of surpassing 300 career points in a Swarm uniform, and the incredible feeling he gets from helping raise funds for cancer research through playing lacrosse.
Satzinger: Since Andrew Suitor went down with his knee injury, you’ve been one of the veterans on the Swarm that has shouldered more of a leadership role. What do you tell the younger guys on the team looking to improve?
Benesch: Just to come ready to play in every game and really play as if this could be their last shift. To be honest, sometimes in this league that unfortunately comes true and it’s not meant to put pressure on them, but it’s a reminder of how this league can operate and that we shouldn’t take anything for granted.
Satzinger: In last week’s game against Calgary you surpassed 300 career points in a Swarm uniform. How does it feel to become just the third player in franchise history to do so?
Benesch: It’s a pretty big honor. This organization has been great to me, they’ve given me a home and a chance to prove what I can do on the floor. I give a lot of credit to my teammates, they’re the ones who play as hard as they do and give me the ability to be successful.
Satzinger: Shayne Jackson is a rookie who is left-handed and plays the same position as you. How impressed are you with his strong play early in his career and have your mentored him at all?
Benesch: I’m pretty impressed with Shayne, but at the same time this was really something we expected from him. I was fortunate enough to see him play this summer when he was in Langley and I was in Victoria. I knew the kind of player that he was and what he could do and I’m glad he’s been able to do what everyone really expected of him.
Satzinger: This Saturday the Swarm play the Stealth, which the team has split the season series at 1-1 thus far. The first game was at Treasure Island Field and the Swarm came out on top, while the Stealth came back on their home floor and took the next game. Could you describe how great of an impact the fans have on your success?
Benesch: They bring an energy that we can feed from so that’s substantial. They play a huge role, the louder they are the better we play. We're lucky to have a great fanbase here in Minnesota, so we’re going to have to ask them to come out, cheer us on and be loud.
Satzinger: What’s something that the Swarm really needs to focus on in order to stop the Stealth?
Benesch: We’ve got to play a full 60 minutes together as a team. I would say there are games where our offense has played outstanding, but our defense and back end hasn’t been there for us. We’ve also had nights where our D was great and offense wasn’t able to get it done. We just have to learn to pull this together as a group and play a full 60 minutes.
Satzinger: This Saturday’s game is going to feature the Hive Cares Night, where a multitude of proceeds will be donated to the Randy Shaver Cancer Research & Community Fund. What does contributing to a cause like that mean to you?
Benesch: Personally, it’s an amazing feeling to know that just playing lacrosse can bring money to cancer research that could benefit the entire world if a cure is found. It’s great to know that our money is going directly to Randy Shaver and the foundation. I’ve seen the work that the money has gone into at the University of Minnesota, so the thought of maybe putting in three or four goals to raise money in order to potentially benefit someone affected by cancer is an outstanding feeling.