#81 F Josh Gillam
Lacrosse players are notorious for being extremely versatile athletes. Many transition seamlessly from the box to field games and back again as the calendar progresses and a great number of the top lacrosse players come from multi-sport backgrounds in their youth.
However, few players have been able to do what Swarm forward Josh Gillam has done. A standout on the field and the ice during his college years at Dartmouth, Gillam was able to make the jump to the professional ranks in both lacrosse and hockey, splitting his services the last couple years playing in the NLL with the Swarm and playing hockey in Germany, most recently for EC Peiting of the German Oberliga in 2012-2013.
After scoring 32 points (8g, 14a) in 12 games over his first two years in Minnesota, Gillam is finally settling down at The Hive. 2014 marks the first full season the six-foot, 180-pound 25-year-old will be playing in the NLL. Gillam took some time to sit down with MNSwarm.com to talk about his eventful career, his decision to stay in Minnesota, and his innate knack for goal scoring.
Hollerud: 2014 marks your first full season with the Swarm. What went in to your decision to choose a lacrosse career here in Minnesota over balancing both hockey and lacrosse?
Gillam: I guess it came down to wanting to be more at home after playing in Germany. Now that I’m getting a little older, (not to say I’m old or anything) I just wanted to be at home and be a part of the Swarm for a full season so I made the decision to be a lacrosse player full-time.
Hollerud: What benefits, if any, are there having such an extensive hockey background in the professional lacrosse ranks? What skills have you been able to transfer from the ice to the floor?
Gillam: The main thing would be the physical and mental conditioning. Being in the game year-round there is never a break from being a team player and being around a team, so that team aspect carried throughout my whole calendar year. Also hockey and lacrosse are both played with a stick, and the stickhandling is the same idea. The longer you have to practice with the stick in your hands the better it will translate back and forth.
Hollerud: Being a hockey goalie myself, I’d kick myself if I didn’t bring up your brother Mitch, a freshman goalie at Cornell this season, who scored a goal in his first collegiate start this November (and his second of the calendar year). Did he get his scoring flair from you?
Gillam: Mitch was always goalie when we played road hockey growing up, I always wanted to work on my goal scoring so having him between the pipes was the easiest thing. He grew up loving the position so it was great to see him do that. He can shoot the puck like most of the players, so it is pretty cool to see him get it done in a game.
Hollerud: One of your strongest assets on the field throughout your career has been your scoring touch. What aspects of your game help make you such an offensive threat?
Gillam: I have to attribute a lot to the skill transfer, like we talked about before, between hockey and lacrosse, and being able to keep my hands going year round. Also my conditioning and fitness are important– I’m a big advocate of being healthy and keeping your body in as fine of shape as you can. When you aren’t thinking about being tired you can let your skills do all the work, and that has been a big part of my game.
Hollerud: Aside from assistant captain Callum Crawford, the Swarm’s offensive corps are full of young talent, including rookies Logan Schuss and Scott Jones. What is your evaluation of their first handful of games in the NLL?
Gillam: The guys are doing great, we are a really young team and I am a young guy myself. We’re just struggling right now to find a groove together and I think the last few games we’ve had some good moments where we have finally gelled together. We just haven’t put together a full 60 minutes yet, but I see it coming along. We have a handful of first and second-year players and it takes a little bit to get in a groove together, but I think Swarm fans have something great to look forward to with this group of guys.
Hollerud: Despite coming up short in Denver, you guys put up a season-high 12 goals last Saturday against the Mammoth, do you see that as a sign of good things to come in a 2014 season that has been marked by offensive struggles?
Gillam: The last few games we’ve started to show promise with our chemistry between a few guys. That 12-goal mark is always something we want to hit, and I think you are going to see a lot more goal production from our offense from here on.
Hollerud: If anything, what has been missing so far this year or needs to improve in order for the Swarm to help erase what has been a rough start so far or is it a matter of needing time to gel as a team?
Gillam: There’s never really one thing to point out when you are playing with a team; it’s not an individual sport and there is not individual blame to be put anywhere. You always go into the season hoping that things are going to click right off the bat and unfortunately that’s not always how it goes, but from here on I think it’s going to be a good rest of the season for us.
Hollerud: After starting the year with four of five on the road, a two-game stretch in St. Paul might be what the doctor ordered. Talk about what boost you get playing in front of your home crowd at The Hive.
Gillam: Over the last couple years we have been the hottest team at home. That’s a huge part of being in Minnesota, with our fans that are so great, we love to play in front of them, so I think this little stretch at home is just what we need to really get back on track as a team for our fans and our organization.
Hollerud: Name one reason why people shouldn’t rule out the Minnesota Swarm
Gillam: I think we are a ticking time bomb ready to explode. We are a young team and as soon as we catch fire it is going to be really exciting to watch.