(Photo Courtesy of Calgary Roughnecks)
Travis Getz’s first game as a Calgary Roughneck was one that was filled with excitement and nerves. He knows his role as a rookie offensive player is one of support to the already established scorers on the team.
“That was my job, to just buzz around and be a little energizer bunny,” Getz said in an interview.
The loss of the reigning regular season and NLL Finals MVP Dane Dobbie for six games following his suspension was one that took a toll on Calgary due to how his scoring totals are always a surplus, “We want Dane playing but [players] have to be able to step in and fill those shoes and we did make some trades like bringing in Dereck Downs and even Kinger [Jesse King] went down last game,” said Getz
Therefore there are spots to fill on the left side for the roughneck, and Getz knows good practices equals playing time. “Another week of pracys [practices] coming up and I gotta be good…it’s pretty cut-throat!” exclaimed Getz. Playing in the NLL, there is little room for error, especially for young players trying to prove themselves.
Growing up playing lacrosse one thing was clear to Getz was that his life is lacrosse. He was in a unique situation with his dad (Ron Getz) being a referee in the NLL. It was cool. As Getz’s says, “I got to see first hand what the players pre game preparation was like as I got to the rink [The Saddledome] early with my dad.” He has been a fan of the Roughnecks ever since they have been in Calgary and says, “It kind of motivated me in a sense and it developed into a strong passion that I carried into my club teams.” Team camaraderie was important to Getz as it is for many athletes.
He explains, “You keep playing because you get great friends when you’re playing and I was fortunate enough to grow up with a great group of guys and fell in love with the game that way and just kept playing.”
Recently, Alberta is becoming more recognized for player development, but it’s a tough go for Alberta programs that are typically viewed as lagging behind British Columbia and Ontario. And that is something that Getz acknowledges. “Being an Alberta guy coming into the NLL there isn’t much respect for you, and that respect only diminishes when you go up the levels, so instead of going in there [pro lacrosse] and having that respect already given to you, that respect is really earned as an Alberta guy.”
He believes that things are looking promising for players from Alberta. “I think there is a good group of [Alberta] guys trying to pave a way for a future generation in the game and hopefully those kids have something to look up to and know that we’ve [pro lacrosse players from Alberta] have been in their shoes before and there’s a hometown kid playing and I can be like that guy.”
Getz says his dad has been significant influence in his lacrosse career. “Ronnie has been my biggest supporter and influence in my lacrosse career, for sure. He’s done more than he knows. You know first hand he’s been at every practice – both Jordan’s [ Getz’s brother] and mine. He coached two teams every summer while working,” said Getz, who also recognizes all the things his dad has done for him in lacrosse outside of being a coach. “He continues to be a huge supporter for me… just in the belief factor that you can be there and trying to pump your tires up like that, so it’s pretty special having a dad like I did.”
As a player who racked up plenty of points for his teams in the community programs, he has to adjust to the expectations for the NLL. “I’m not gonna be the guy scoring two to three goals a game, I have to be alright with putting an assist up on the board and us getting a win, just by cutting the middle hard a creating spaces for guys, drawing a few penalties, and picking up minutes that the superstars cant play. That’s kind of what my role is right now and I’m perfectly alright with that.”
In recognizing that Getz is a talented player that comes in a small package he’s had to adjust his game moving up to the pro level as it is a massive difference. He shared how he has had to change his game to help him compete at the NLL level, “I think being smaller you just have to work harder than everybody, it’s kind of cliché to say. At the pro level, you just have to be that much faster, when you’re cutting the middle you have to try and avoid a guy so he won’t bump you off your line…At the pro level, defenders are a lot smarter it’s harder to stay elusive and away from those guys.”
When asked about the draft process and how he knew what teams were interested, Getz said he has no idea who would take him, even though two of his current Roughnecks teammates, Dane Dobbie and Andrew McBride, coached him in junior. “I had no idea. I went out east this summer and kind of bummed around a bit, and just really bounced around and tried to find my spot out there. I saw some writing on me and they had me ranked at the end of the second round or something, but that doesn’t really mean much.”
Draft night came around and Getz had to wait longer than anyone else, getting selected last overall by his hometown Calgary Roughnecks, “After playing junior a lot of people had me written off and trying to continue proving people wrong and going last overall and playing a game in the NLL this year that I think it’s pretty special and I’m not done yet,” Getz said.
The biggest transition from Junior to Senior lacrosse for Getz is the mental side of the game. “Just the intelligence…that’s the biggest thing as you’re going through the levels.”
Getz believes that due to the recent expansion that the NLL has and is currently undergoing, there is a bigger gap between star players and role players that is starting to occur. And this gap can mainly be seen in the increase of players that teams will put out there to either do the dirty work in the middle of the floor or simply keep things flowing while the star players take a breather.
“I think the NLL has been blessed with just absolute superstars being such a small league for so long, and now through expansion now there’s some spot filler that have to go in and play minutes and find roles, and that’s been a really special thing for the NLL to have to be transitioning into a role where there’s different types of players that are playing every night,” Getz said.
Playing for his hometown Calgary Roughnecks, Getz feels pretty special. “It’s pretty cool, I mean I’ve pretty much been to every single game since they brought the team here. In that first preseason game, running through that tunnel I got a little choked up. It was pretty special just sliding that sweater on and going out there and playing in the Saddledome..There’s not many places like Calgary.”
For younger players who dream of making the NLL like Getz did, he offers this advice, “Set your goals early and don’t give up…Don’t stop playing. Don’t write yourself off. Don’t quit until somebody tells you. And even when somebody tells you it’s done and you still got more in the tank..you’re not done until you quit.”