June 15, 2017 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) - Toronto Rock
Oakville, ON - Toronto Rock Owner, President and General Manager Jamie Dawick today announced Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer has signed a contract extension that will see him return to the Rock bench for the 2018 season and the foreseeable future. As per club policy, terms of the contract were not announced.
Sawyer's first season as head coach in Toronto saw the team go from missing the playoffs with a 5-13 record in 2016 to finishing 9-9 and winning a playoff round in 2017. The Rock bowed out to the eventual NLL Champion's Cup winners, the Georgia Swarm.
The 42-year old from Orangeville, ON had served with the Rock as an assistant coach on a number of occasions including 2005 to 2006 winning the Champion's Cup in 2005 and again in 2010 and then from 2012 to 2016. In 2011, Sawyer served as the head coach of the Boston Blazers.
"Matt and his coaching staff (Bruce Codd and Blaine Manning) took advantage of the opportunity that was placed in front of them last season," said Dawick. " The staff is moving the team in the right direction. I've been around Matt for a number of years now, in the summer and winter, in different roles. The season ran really smooth this year. He has a lot of experience and he brings that to all aspects of coaching this team."
Entering his second season as Rock Head Coach, Sawyer believes this team is ready to take that next, difficult step.
"I'm excited and appreciate the confidence Jamie and management have in myself and the staff to build on the success we had last year," said Sawyer. "Moving forward with this group, surrounded by a great staff and having the full support of management, it's the ideal situation. We are a young team that made some strides last year.
"We gave some young players some opportunities and moving forward those players need to be driven and competitive and not satisfied with having a good year. The players that stick in this league for a long time not only sustain their level of play but also often improve it. We feel we've found the right personnel, and the plan is to continue to do so and bring players into a good environment with a strong staff and have continued, long-term success."
Dawick and Sawyer are definitely on the same page. There is a focus on the present and the long-term sustainability that will give the team a chance to be in the hunt for a championship every year.
" It's a fine line, juggling the win now and setting yourself up to win in the future," said Dawick. "First and foremost we want to win now but we want to be in that position every year. With the roster, you need to find the right mix of youth, draft picks and veterans. We have never been scared to make a deal involving picks and players and sometimes there's more to it than just what you see on the transaction wire, there's a lot of layers to every move."
Sawyer echoed Dawick's thoughts.
"Our goal as a staff is to continue to get better," Sawyer explains. "It may be cliché, but we truly feel we are closer to success now than we were at the start of last off-season. Next year is the tough one after improving on a down year. Everything gets tougher in the second year. We were third overall, made the playoffs and won a playoff game, but the challenge is taking the next step without stumbling. We want to build a team that will compete and be in the hunt each and every year. It's about sustainable competitiveness."
Dawick said he would now look towards the opening of free agency on August 1st and the NLL Draft in September. Over that time period, Dawick and the Rock lacrosse staff will be watching a lot of summer lacrosse in preparation for the 2018 season.
2018 Season Tickets are also on sale now. Please visit torontorock.com/tickets or call 416-596-3075 to purchase or for more information.