Mark Matthews on MLL, the NLL and Covid-19
Mark Matthews celebrated his ninth Major League Lacrosse (MLL) season this year with the Philadelphia Barrage as the Pennsylvania team made its return to the league after an 11 year hiatus.
Matthews, who stands 6'5'' and 230 pounds, began playing lacrosse when he was three. The then much smaller defenseman ultimately made the choice to focus on lacrosse around ninth grade.
"Once that choice was made, I knew I wanted to make a living out of it," Matthews said "So far I have done just that."
Matthews, who played for the University of Denver, was selected fourth overall in the 2012 MLL draft by the Denver Outlaws.
"Being drafted by Denver while I was living in Denver was awesome," said Matthews. "The transition was easy because the guys made it as easy as possible. I had a great group there and just tried to play my game,
Since his inaugural season, Matthews has played for the New York Lizards, the Rochester Rattlers, the Atlanta Blaze, the Ohio Machine, and now for the Barrage. Through the change, something has remained constant for Matthews, particularly as of late.
Spencer Ford, the head coach and general manager of the Barrage, previously worked various positions for the Atlanta Blaze from 2015-2020 before the franchise ceased operations. Matthews played for Atlanta in 2016, 2017 and 2019.
"Playing for Fordo [Spencer Ford] has been the best," said Matthews. "When I came to Atlanta with him and Hunts [Dave Huntley], I immediately had a bond with Fordo. He gets his players and knows what to do to get them to play at their best. One of my favorite MLL memories was when our squad in Atlanta took a trip to Topgolf with Fordo and Hunts. It was ultimate team building and knew then I wanted to play with and for Fordo forever."
Coaches and teammates from MLL are not the only guys Matthews has played with for a long time. Between two different professional leagues, Major Series Lacrosse, and his time at Denver, Matthews recognizes many of the athletes he plays with and against.
"Playing with familiar faces makes everything a lot easier," Matthews said. "Being comfortable makes it so much fun to play and meeting the new young guys is also awesome. It's cool to score against somebody in MLL and then have them defending our goalie a couple months later in an NLL [National Lacrosse League] game."
Matthews, who was drafted first overall by the Edmonton Rush in the 2012 NLL Entry Draft, has played with the team ever since. The franchise relocated to Saskatchewan in 2016 and has remained the Saskatchewan Rush since. Matthews holds the record for single season goals with 53, assists with 62, and points with 114. All of these records were set in 2015.
The Rush stood first in the West Division at the conclusion of the 2020 NLL regular season with a 7-3 record.
"The Rush were just starting to get things on track when this pandemic happened," said Matthews in regard to the 2020 season. "I just hope we continue with the core group and get another championship."
After the outbreak of the Coronavirus, the 2020 NLL Championship was cancelled. Since then, with the exception of MLL's 20th Anniversary Season in July, Matthews has been forced to split his time between work, lacrosse, and leisure.
"COVID has been a grind," said Matthews. "Juggling work and trying to stay in shape while golfing and fishing has been tough, but I have had some fun and spent a lot of my time at the lake."
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Major League Lacrosse Stories from October 8, 2020
- Mark Matthews on MLL, the NLL and Covid-19 - Philadelphia Barrage
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