As a 6-foot-10, 245-pound defender, Tyson Roe isn’t caught off guard very often on the lacrosse floor.
He was taken by surprise, however, on Monday, when the Calgary Roughnecks selected the Cowichan Valley Lacrosse Association product with their first pick, 16th overall in the second round of the National Lacrosse League’s annual draft – the first time a former CVLA player has been drafted.
"It’s hard to believe that it happened," he said, still wrapping his head around it the next day.
Roe, who played box lacrosse with the senior A Nanaimo Timbermen this past summer and spent the last two field lacrosse seasons with Div. III Concordia University Wisconsin, knew he was on the NLL radar, but didn’t think he’d be picked so early, or by the Roughnecks.
"I’d been talking to the Vancouver Stealth the past month and a bit, but they were the only team I’d even talked to," he said. "When Calgary called my name, I was surprised."
Roe’s coach with the Timbermen, Kaleb Toth, is a former star with the Roughnecks, but recently took a job as the assistant coach with the Stealth. His only tenuous connection to the Roughnecks was that their head coach, Curt Malawsky, was coaching in Coquitlam when Roe was playing for the junior A Timbermen.
Roe clearly made an impression on Malawsky at the time, and has been noticed by the rest of the Roughnecks brass as well.
"Their GM, Mike Board, said people like me with size and added speed don’t come along very often," Roe said. "That made me feel pretty special."
After he was drafted, the Roughnecks’ provincial rivals, the Edmonton Rush, asked on Twitter, "Anyone check to see if Tyson Roe is actually just two smaller players stacked on top of each other?" Roe admits that his size is a factor – "It gets me noticed more than if I was six-two," he said. "No one is really close to me." – but points out that it’s not the only reason he attracts attention.
"Another kid [Zach Rogers], he’s from California and played for Langley, he was first in all the physical tests, but this was his first season of box, and he went 32nd, so physicality doesn’t take you all the way," Roe noted.
Roe will head to the Roughneck’s training camp at the end of November, where he will make an effort to crack the team’s 20-man roster. If not, he could end up on the three-man practice roster.
To sign up for the NLL draft, he had to give up his NCAA eligibility after two seasons at Concordia, but it wasn’t a tough decision.
"I’ve had my eyes on this kind of thing since I was 11 or 12 years old," he said, noting that he is now looking for work or volunteer experience that will help him toward a career in policing. "It was more important to me than staying in school in Wisconsin."
D.J. Saari, who played in the CVLA as a youngster and was a teammate of Roe’s brother, Jeremy, with the junior A Timbermen last season, was picked in the fifth round, 39th overall on Monday by the Vancouver Stealth. They are likely the first of many Cowichan products to be picked up.
"I’d love to lead the way for lots of Cowichan players to be drafted and play pro one day," Roe said. "Hopefully the next one is my brother, but who knows?"