October 11, 2017 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) - Toronto Rock
'I Owe Everything To The Game Of Lacrosse'
Oakville, ON - The man who carried the moniker of Toronto's reigning longest tenured pro athlete has announced his retirement from the National Lacrosse League. 33-year old Rob Marshall spent all twelve of his NLL seasons in a Toronto Rock uniform and steps away with friendships and memories that will last a lifetime and a Champion's Cup ring won with the Rock in 2011.
"There comes a time in an athlete's career when they know in the back of their mind that there is going to be an end to it," said Marshall who recently began a new career as a Child and Youth Councillor with the Upper Grand District School Board near his hometown of Arthur, ON. "I wanted to do it on my own terms and not be told when to retire. I'm sure I'll get that feeling on practice and game nights that I should be doing this or that but deep down, I know this is the right time to say good bye and focus on other aspects of life."
The veteran defender endured a difficult 2017 season that saw him play only one game as he battled through injuries.
" I came into last season with an injury and right from there I was behind everyone else," explained Marshall. "I had to keep positive and I knew I couldn't be negative. Watching some of the new players making their mark and seeing their athleticism, I wanted to help them as much as I could and teach them about being an NLL player and little nuances about the game I had learned over the years, that became my focus."
Marshall was essentially a walk-on. He was coming off a Founders Cup Canadian Junior B Championship win with the Elora Mohawks in 2005 when he received an invitation to attend Rock training camp prior to the 2006 NLL season from Terry Sanderson who at the time was the Head Coach and GM of the team. That team was also the defending NLL champion as the Rock were coming off their fifth Champion's Cup win in seven seasons.
"When I was 18-years old, I almost gave up lacrosse, I didn't see myself going anywhere with it and I didn't love the game," said Marshall. "In the later stages of my junior career, coaches like Dean George and John Lovell influenced me a lot, developed me, helped me appreciate and love the game more.
"To then be 21-years old and undrafted, I didn't know what to expect. Back then, you didn't see a lot of junior B guys going to the NLL. To get an invite to training camp from Terry Sanderson was an eye opener and it made me think it was possible to achieve my dream of playing in the NLL at some point. Going into a training camp the year after the Rock won a championship, I wasn't sure what my chances were and how many players they lost. The mentality that I had was that I had nothing to lose and I just tried to show my ability and my skills to work my way onto the team."
After landing a spot in the NLL, Marshall says his thoughts quickly turned towards winning a championship and just when and how often he would even have a chance to win the Champion's Cup.
"At first I had no expectations of what to think and I was taking it year by year," said Marshall. "We didn't win in my first year, but you think have so many more chances to win. Then six or seven years later, your career is flying by, you wonder how much longer it will last. The trade deadline rolls around, you're wondering if your name is being brought up, so being able to spend all 12 years in Toronto and to have won that championship, it's all something I am very proud of."
There really is nothing like winning and the lifelong bond that it creates amongst teammates, coaches, trainers and staff. It's a brotherhood that is always a level above anything else experienced in sports.
"I owe everything to the game of lacrosse," said an emotional Marshall. "To hoist that cup and do it in Toronto in front of my family and friends is something I'll never forget. Seeing the reactions of your best friends and teammates, Cam Woods, Kasey Beirnes, Bob Watson, Colin Doyle, Phil Sanderson, Blaine Manning and Sandy Chapman after all the time we put in, to see the excitement and the emotion after a big win, it's so awesome.
"I met my wife through my time playing with the Rock and this game brought me everything I could have only imagined. To have twelve years of teammates and friendships with the Rock is pretty awesome."
While Marshall recounted some of the fondest memories of his playing career, he was also very thankful for those around him that sacrificed their time and made a significant impact on his career both on and off the floor.
"I have to thank Jamie Dawick for being such a great owner but also a great friend," said Marshall. "All any player can ask for is a chance to win and as a member of the team since Jamie owned the Rock, I appreciated him keeping the core together and bringing in guys to win. It speaks to the person he is. He comes in as the owner and we end up great friends. I truly appreciate what he's done for the Rock and for the game of lacrosse.
"Thank you to my parents, who didn't miss a game in the twelve years I played in Toronto and made the long drive from Arthur. Thank you to my wife Betsy and my extended family. I met my wife at a post-game party in Toronto and she's been there by my side for the last 8 years. I've had some great coaches along the way like John Lovell, Dean George, Terry Sanderson and Troy Cordingley. They all had a big impact on the player I was. Having the chance to play with my idols, guys I looked up to like Kasey Beirnes, Colin Doyle, Josh Sanderson, Dan Ladouceur, Brandon Miller and Brodie and Patrick Merrill was very special to me. I also want to thank the Arthur and Elora minor lacrosse communities for their support throughout my career."
So, after 159 games played, 31 goals, 55 assists, 86 points, 759 loose balls and one Champion's Cup title, Rob Marshall, best known to hardcore Rock fans as 'The Sherriff', has turned in his badge.
"Rob's career really is a great story," said Rock Owner, President and GM Jamie Dawick. "He was a guy that came out of nowhere and ended up playing twelve years for his hometown team. He was a great player, a great teammate and a great representative of the Toronto Rock."
2017-18 Season Tickets are on sale now. Please visit torontorock.com/tickets or call 416-596-3075 to purchase or for more information.