If it had been almost any other year, Reid Bowering would have been named the National Lacrosse League’s Rookie of the Year last season.
Instead, in his first endeavour into the league, the already-elite defensemen found himself receiving no hardware with his name on it. Unfortunately for the rest of the league, the lack of recognition, compounded with the Vancouver Warriors not securing a playoff berth last season, has only fuelled Bowering’s desire to continue to improve.
“I can definitely use [not winning any awards] as a motivator,” Bowering said. “If I’m working out at the gym – or maybe it’s a day I don’t feel like working out – I can flip that switch in my mind and use that as motivation. And, the fact that the team didn’t make the playoffs is also a huge motivator.”
In the 2021-22 NLL campaign, there wasn’t anything that Bowering didn’t do on the floor. During his inaugural expedition through a rigorous professional box lacrosse season, Bowering set an NLL record with 26 blocked shots, set a rookie record with 34 caused turnovers, tied the rookie record with 214 loose balls picked up, and led all defensemen with 25 points.
But, it wasn’t as easy to become a dominating force in the NLL as you might think for the three-time British Columbia Junior A Lacrosse League (BCJALL) Defenseman of the Year. Even though Bowering had an extra year (due to the COVID-19 cancelled season) after being drafted to develop a rapport with his new teammates – he often worked on his skills with one of those new teammates, Mitch Jones – and dedicated all of his time to honing his box lacrosse skills; Bowering was still nervous for most of his early games in the NLL.
Bowering specifically recalled how nerve-wracking it was having to defend Dane Dobbie in the season-opener. He knew that players like Dobbie and others around the NLL were world-class, but it’s impossible to judge how difficult the task of defending superstar-calibre players is until you’re thrown into the fire.
“Every single player on an NLL floor is an absolute stud,” Bowering said. “You can’t take even half a second off because they’ll make you pay for that. You might be able to get away with some mistakes in other leagues, but, in the NLL, every time you mess up, the other team is going to score a goal.”
That first game was a good litmus test to understand the challenges he would face in the league. If you take Bowering’s stat lines from his first and last games of the year, you can see the notable improvement.
Following his first game against the Seals, Bowering finished with nine loose balls picked up and one assist. To cap off his season, Bowering and the Warriors happened to be once again battling with the Seals, and in that game, Bowering picked up 23 loose balls, blocked four shots, caused two turnovers and even scored a goal.
Despite his attacking prowess for his position, Bowering hopes to be more of a force to be reckoned with during the 2022-23 season.
“I want to improve my shooting range,” Bowering said. “I don’t want to just shoot right on top of the crease – I’ve always been an inside-finisher. I want to improve my range so the defence has to respect me a little further out on the floor in transition.”
This coming year, watch for Bowering to be a particular menace on all sides of the ball in Colorado this April when the Warriors travel to face the Mammoth. Bal Arena was a shining highlight of all the arenas Bowering battled in. If Bowering can help his team collect an important late-season win against their division rivals this coming year in one of his favourite arenas, he and the Warriors will be delighted on the road trip back home.
There’s no doubt that Bowering is preparing to make a personal statement when he’s on the floor this year. However, his driving force won’t be attaining individual accolades, which will eventually come in his professional career; it will be about putting the team above his aspirations and having them contend for an NLL Championship.
By Adam Levi