The Next of A.J. Shannon Interviewed by Canadian

It’s something I’ve come to learn sort of. I’m not trying to knock the Americans, but they look at field as being their game and they’re not going to let a Canadian come in there and show em’ up. There’s sort of a clique down here, politics wise, kids from Baltimore and Long Island get a lot of attention no matter what. Where you’re from always seems to play a bit of a factor.

For All-Americans I got named honorable mention, which is just a real joke. I was pretty offended by that. It’s disappointing to see stuff like that. I don’t know if it’s really a Canadian thing. I think a lot of kids get flipped off while other players get all the recognition, a lot more than I ever saw back home (Whitby). They really hype some kids up to almost god like status here. I guess it’s kinda the American way to put some guys up on pedestals.

It’s kinda tough getting overlooked at and snubbed, but it’s a team game and I played on an amazing team, and in the end we won it all. If we hadn’t won it… well… maybe I’d be a little more upset with the honorable mention. I got a ring on my finger and that’s what matters.

Has playing so much field over the years affected your box game at all, as far as making you more of a complete athlete?

I find that over the past four years I’ve become a better athlete. I have a lot more agility. Going back and playing boxla after playing field is very tough. The two games are just so different. Boxla people can’t understand why it’s so tough to score on a 6×6 net in field, but it’s damn hard! It’s not like Canadian goalies where sometimes it’s like shooting at a piece of Swiss Cheese, American keepers are really good. Put most boxla goalies in a field net and it might as well be an open net.

But then again, it’s tough going back to indoor and shooting on those small nets and having guys pound on you. The two sports just have a different mentality but I enjoy both the games. I think I like boxla a little more because of the constant excitement but field is such a great game too.

You’ve been pumped into the Brooklin Redmen Senior lineup since the age of 18 while you were still winning Mintos with the Warriors, but this summer you’ll be playing your ball for the New Jersey Pride in the MLL, why the change?

I’m here this summer basically for the money. I’m making decent enough coin by just playing 12 games this year in the outdoor league. Also, I want to experience everything lacrosse has to offer. I kinda know what the Redmen are all about having played with them all season last year.

This league (MLL), I don’t know how long it’s gonna last. They have a good TV contract and have picked up some good sponsors but the attendance is pretty brutal most of the time. The support isn’t really there. I want to experiment with my lacrosse career.

I’d love to be back home to Canada, I’m getting’ a little home sick (AJ hasn’t been home since January, having only a week off from lifting the NCAA plaque over his head to pulling the Pride’s jersey on). Getting paid to play lacrosse in the summer is pretty amazing.

What’s your opinion of this year’s Brooklin team with all the turnover going on this summer?

Well having Gavin Prout come back will definitely be huge for them. My cousin Barry (Johnson) is the GM there and he tells me that they’re rebuilding there. And there always comes a time where you have to flush out the system and start from scratch. There’s a lot of old dudes in that system but with them leaving it gives a lot of the young up-and-comers a chance to see a lot of time.

They’re creating a new generation so to speak in Brooklin, and that’s tough to do in the Senior league. A lot guys try and buy each other out, like Coquitlam buying all these guys, it’s tough for a team like Brooklin to compete with such a small budget. Brampton’s gonna be unbelievable this year too. I think the Redmen will have a learning experience this year. Hopefully in August depending on what goes on in the MLL this summer I might be able to come up and help them out come playoff time.

What was it like last year being coached by somebody like Troy Cordingley in Brooklin. How intense is this guy behind closed doors? We can only imagine the horror he must have put you guys through after that locker room door slammed shut. Did he ever make you cry or threaten to kill you if you didn’t score five goals?

He’s a pretty intense fellow. I liked Troy a lot. He still has that edge of wanting to play out there. I’ve never seen a coach more riled up then him sometimes last year. You see Troy on the bench, and oh my god, he still wants to get on the floor and fight some of these guys. He’s a coach that brings that player attitude with him, which makes him a good coach in my opinion.

You’re eligible for the NLL next season, anywhere you’d like to see yourself playing specifically?

I’m really looking forward to that. I can’t really make that call or where I’ll be playing. Obviously Toronto’s a great place to play, an amazing organization that is close to home, but I can’t see that happening. It’s pretty likely I’ll end up in the States somewhere. Hopefully it’ll be a place where I’ll be working outside of lacrosse. San Jose might not be the best bet for me, it’d be a great experience, but the commute to get there would be murder.

I think the NLL is a great league that has really established itself. I think they’re making a lot smarter moves in where they’re putting teams, which should help them in the future. It’ll be great playing pro boxla and make a little coin doing it. I can’t say I’d be looking forward to go to the New York Saints, who have looked pretty horrible not just on the field.

It’d be great playing with Gavin and Gee (Nash) but from what I’ve heard about the ownership there it sounds pretty horrible. I’ve heard a lot of other owners want him (Mike Gongas) out of there, so I don’t know if that’s the place I’d want to be headed to.

Who are some of the American kids that we should look out for in September’s Entry Draft?

There’s a few guys I see that would be good. Kids that have best stick stills obviously. Sean Hartofilis (Princeton) would do well, but I can’t really see him playing boxla. My teammate at UVA, Chris Rotelli, contemplated playing pro boxla for about a second and then said he’d never play in that league.

They think it’s a little too rough. A lot of Americans just don’t want to get banged up like that. The way most Americans view the league is a lot of big, dumb, Canadians beating the hell out of each other.

The Americans have always kinda had this attitude that after college lacrosse you’re done. Most guys don’t look at the NLL as an option, which is too bad. Michael Springer (Syracuse) could probably do pretty well, he likes to shoot a lot, but then again I don’t know if he’d be willing to go. Hopefully with more American crowds coming on board it will make guys want to play, the league has certainly established itself as a good, solid organization.