When asked to name the strongest facet of his game, Cameron Flint chose not to focus on his offensive skill, nor his responsible play in the defensive end. Instead he mentioned both of these, citing his well-balanced repertoire that put him in position to be selected fourth overall by the Minnesota Swarm in the 2013 NLL Entry Draft.
“I pride myself on being a two-way player,” Flint explains. “I am confident in my ability to play solid defense, transition the ball up the floor, and make things happen on offense when it gets there.”
The journey to professional lacrosse for Flint– a 5-foot-11, 190-pound transition player from Georgetown, Ontario– was one paved with sweat, determination and raw athletic ability. This athleticism was not only refined as he rose through the lacrosse ranks but also developed on the ice rink as a youth hockey player.
Flint’s versatile athletic background culminated in the right-hander grabbing the attention of coach Joe Sullivan and the rest of his staff prior to the draft. In fact the Swarm, initially slated with the fifth-overall pick, were so impressed that they dealt that pick along with defenseman Nik Bilic to the Edmonton Rush in order to secure the fourth pick and the opportunity to select Flint.
“Players that can be that versatile at this level is very tough to find these days,” Sullivan says of his sense of urgency to get Flint into a Minnesota jersey. “Making sure we got Cam locked up was of the utmost importance. Although we only moved up one position, we wanted to show him how committed we were.”
One thing that did not hurt Flint’s draft stock was his impressive college career at Denver University, especially the role he played in establishing the Pioneers as a NCAA powerhouse under Bill Tierney, one of the most respected coaches in the game. After receiving USILA All-American Honorable Mention nods in 2011 and 2012, Flint was named to the First-Team in 2013. He was selected to the 2013 All-ECAC Team, after earning Second-Team distinctions each of his first three seasons. Finishing his career with 103 goals and 138 points in 65 games played, Flint sits in the top ten all-time in Denver lacrosse history in both goals (10th) and total points (6th).
Even more than all of the wins and points he racked up during his career, Flint values the role his Denver coaches and teammates played in building his tenacious work ethic and blue-collar attitude towards the game.
“Coach Tierney always stressed that we were going to be one of the hardest working teams in the country,” Flint says. “Just being able to sweat it out with your teammates, and work through all of the hard times is something I’d love to carry over to the NLL.”
While his college accolades were certainly eye-catching to the Swarm staff, what truly set Flint apart from other players was his freakish athletic ability. Swarm owner John Arlotta called Flint “one of the most athletic players [he’s] ever seen,” while praising his versatility. Sullivan was able to elaborate on what this versatility meant for the Swarm on the field. “He can score, he can defend, he’s got great speed, good size, and he’s a smart young man. He’s got everything that we’re looking for.”
Flint referred to his quick first step, his speed in transition and his affinity for physical play as the cornerstones of his athleticism. It is this multi-faceted aspect of Flint’s game that makes him a valuable addition to an already-deep pool of transition players on his roster, including team captain Andrew Suitor and Jordan MacIntosh, winners of the 2012 and 2013 NLL Transition Player of the Year awards respectively. Being able to play with a couple of the top players in the league is an exciting opportunity for the rookie.
“Suitor and MacIntosh are both phenomenal players and I can learn a lot from them,” Flint explains. “I am looking forward to reading and watching what they do and then emulating it in my game.”
One part of Flint’s game he does not want people to overlook, especially heading into the NLL season is his physicality. Flint stressed his desire to be a force to be reckoned with on the floor: “I’m definitely trying to bulk up a little bit so I can withstand some checks and push people around.”
Flint’s inclination for the rough stuff was cultivated on the ice during a 12-year hockey career during his youth. Flint played AAA travel hockey in Toronto where in 2005 he was drafted by the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League, a Canadian Major Junior league that churns out future NHL stars year after year.
According to Flint, several of the skills he learned on the ice carried over to the lacrosse field and helped shape the first-round draft pick he is today. Basic stick skills, hand-eye coordination, vision and the ability to read a play all translated extremely well from hockey to lacrosse. But perhaps hockey’s greatest impact on Flint was teaching him to embrace the gritty side of his game.
“Being physical is one of the things Canadian hockey players are all about,” Flint says. “I used to be a power forward so I liked to throw my body around, which is one thing I took into lacrosse.”
With training camp set to begin this Friday in Oakville, Ontario, Flint is excited to have his physical, well-rounded game supplement the talented 2013 draft class that is set to make an impact on the Swarm this season, including forward Logan Schuss (1st overall), defenseman Jason Noble (2nd overall) and forward Scott Jones (7th overall).
“All of us have the same mindset, we all know how to be successful and that’s something we want to carry over from our college careers to the NLL,” Flint explains. “We need to work hard and learn the ropes from the older guys but at the same time bring our own skill sets that the coaches drafted us for and use them to help out right away.”
Even though he stresses the need for each player to bring their own unique skill set to the table this season, Flint believes the secret to the Swarm’s success can be found within his own game: striking a balance between skill and physicality.
“I want to see the hardest working team that can show both grit and finesse; that can get up and down the floor but also play tough. If we stay along that path then I think we can bring home the Champions Cup.”