A rookie’s life in the NLL isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be.
Despite the tremendous weight lifted off of a player’s shoulders after hearing their name called on draft day, the fight to prove that they deserve to be on the floor with the greatest lacrosse players in the world persists.
For defenseman Jackson Suboch, he knew opportunities to suit up with those elite athletes were far from given; they needed to be earned. Suboch understood this because, from the time he began playing lacrosse, he fought tooth and nail just to make the roster.
In Suboch’s first foray into the game when he was seven years old, he was nearly cut from the U- 9 Mimico team. He needed to do everything in his power to prove his worth. His hard work ultimately paid off, as he was one of the last players to join the squad. It was then that Suboch understood how hard he would have to work to get to where he wanted to go.
After more than a decade of displaying his lacrosse talents, whether during his time in the Mimico system, the Hill Academy, or even being co-captain at UMass, Suboch earned the privilege of being named the 16th overall draft pick in the 2021 NLL Entry Draft by the
Yet, despite his strength, size and athleticism – Suboch stands in at 6’5” and weighs around 200 pounds – finding a space to fit into the Wings’ defense that was loaded with veteran talent, including the likes of Alex Crepinsek, Ian Llord, Ryan Wagner and John Ranagan was going to come with its challenges. That’s not to mention the bevy of up-and-comers on the backend and Suboch’s lone defensive rookie this past season.
“The guys that were on the floor, those were great guys, and all you wanted to do was support them,” Suboch said. “Who doesn’t want to play? At the same time, as a rookie, you have to understand that there is a pecking order in this league, and you’re playing against the best guys in the world. [Rookies] need time to develop, watch, and listen to the coaches and what they’re preaching.”
Suboch took his own advice and became a sponge around the guys. Through living with and learning from Blaze Riorden and picking the brains of all-stars such as Cory Vitarelli, Suboch was deeply engaged in his pursuit to be the best all-around NLL player he could be. Not only was one of his primary goals to help his teammates in any way he could, he never took any advice for granted.
It may not have been his ideal situation, but as long as he was playing in the NLL, Suboch was going to give as much of himself to the team as he could because he understood his place on the pecking order.
“I know that I have to work hard to get everything I want to get,” Suboch said. “I do everything in my power not to disappoint my teammates. I always try and put my best foot forward for them.”
By season’s end, Suboch had earned nine chances during the regular season and even a playoff game to showcase his skills. In that postseason affair, Suboch aided the Wings’ defense by causing one of the team’s six caused turnovers.
Over the summer, Suboch would be thrown yet another curveball as he was let go by the Wings. However, as his journey in Philadelphia ended, his journey with the expansion Las Vegas Desert Dogs was about to begin. Over the summer in the NLL Expansion Draft, Suboch was taken 9th overall by the upstart team in the league’s Western Conference.
“It was an awesome opportunity to play for Philadelphia, and I am very thankful for that chance,” Suboch said. “Being given this new opportunity in Las Vegas is incredible. It’s very exciting, and I know that everyone is super excited to get things going in a few weeks.”
This season, Suboch will get another chance to prove his worth, except this time, he will not be a rookie. He will be coming to training camp as a sophomore determined not to have a slump and with a mind that is rife will invaluable knowledge and experiences that his rookie year in Philadelphia gifted him.
By Adam Levi