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09/25/2013 - 11:28am

By Craig Rybczynski & Travis Larner -- Getting drafted is a culmination of years of sacrifice and long hours in the gym and on the floor. For 55 players – four of which were selected by the two-time defending champion Rochester Knighthawks – the real work now begins to crack the roster of a National Lacrosse League team.

The Knighthawks’ draftees, invitees and walk-ons will get their first chance to impress Owner and General Manager Curt Styres and the lacrosse staff on Friday, October 18th at the team’s annual Free Agent Camp. Styres, who is a former winner of the NLL’s GM and Executive of the Year, was encouraged by the quartet of players the team picked at the 2013 NLL Entry Draft on September 16th.

“Our team is so good and so competitive. I think the guys will welcome the competition. Nobody wants anything given to them. Everyone is willing to do what it takes to get to that next step,” said Styres. “The 2014 team will be better than the 2013 team. We’re one year stronger, one year wiser, one year smarter and three years closer together.”

The Knighthawks have enjoyed the greatest span of success in the team’s 20-year history, winning the 2012 and 2013 Champion’s Cups. On draft night, Mark White, Zac Reid, Taylor Northway and Brandon Styres joined the Knighthawks organization. It was a happy occasion for the Styres family, as Curt Styres became the first NLL General Manager/Owner to select his son in the draft.

“I am very fortunate. I don’t know how many owners or GMs get to draft their sons,” he said. “It is a huge honor to be in that position.”

Brandon, who is a Six Nations’ product, has been fortunate enough to spend time with the back-to-back NLL Champions and has been training with three-time NLL Goalie of the Year Matt Vinc.

“I will give it all I have and make the most of this opportunity,” said Styres. “I was already getting some pointers from Matt Vinc and have been out practicing with him. I have been training hard (to get ready for training camp).”

Styres will have the shortest commute to the ILA on October 18th, whereas Northway will travel the furthest. The 18-year-old British Columbia native will cover 2,500 miles en route to the Free Agent Camp. Northway was selected with the 37th overall pick by the Knighthawks.

“I’ve never been on the East Coast, so I don’t have any idea what’s going to happen, or what it looks like even,” said the Delta Islanders and Coquitlam Adanacs transition man. “It’s all going to be brand new, but I honestly can’t wait. I’m so excited for the opportunity.” 

Rochester used its first selection to take transition player Mark White in the third round (27th overall). White (5-11, 187 pounds) joins the Knighthawks after a stellar field career at the University of Southern Maine, and an impressive season with Brampton of Major Series Lacrosse in 2013.

“It’s a tough roster to crack. They just won it for the second straight year,” said White. “I look forward to working my hardest to try to help them make it three-in-a-row.”

White has had the opportunity to play for Knighthawks Head Coach Mike Hasen before, suiting up for the 2012 Excelsiors. He has also found a mentor and workout partner in fellow Oakville, Ontario native Dan Dawson. 

“He will do whatever it takes to get on this roster. He will push everyone to get better,” said Hasen. “He is quick and goes into the dirty areas to get the loose balls, and pushes the ball up the floor very well.”

With the 46th overall pick, the Knighthawks selected Mercyhurst University midfielder Zac Reid of St. Catharines, Ontario. Last season with the Lakers, he was an Honorable Mention All-American choice and First Team All-ECAC. The 6-1, 195-pounder had a breakout season in 2013, scoring 29 goals and adding 14 assists. He joins two former Lakers on the Knighthawks’ roster in Tyler Burton and Matt Hummel. 

“I had to chance to play with both of them at school and both are great players. I am looking forward to spending more time with them on the floor,” said Reid. “It’s an unbelievable organization with great leaders on the team. I am just looking to see what I can do to help out the team.”

The next group of Knighthawk hopefuls will attend Free Agent Camp, which begin on Friday, October 18th from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. Check-in is from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the Arrow Express Sports Office at the ILA. A morning workout from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. will follow on Saturday, October 19th. All interested candidates attending the tryouts must submit all necessary information and be fully registered by the end of the day on Monday, October 15th in order to participate.

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To be eligible for the Free Agent Camp, players are required to submit a lacrosse resume, applicable references and a current photo. All athletes are also responsible for funding any and all expenses associated with the tryout and the team can provide contacts for any necessary accommodations.

Athletes must provide their own equipment and are strongly encouraged to attend both practices. Attendees should be prepared to complete a fitness testing and workout regime, including body fat and Body Mass Index measurements. Upon arrival, players are required to sign an NLL Participation Waiver and advise team officials of any past injuries or pre-existing medical conditions. Those who require the assistance of medication or medical devices are advised to bring them to the tryouts. Lastly, all athletes must have proper and authorized government-issued documentation to satisfy custom requirements for travel purposes.

For further information or in the event of any questions, please contact Rochester Knighthawks Vice President of Operations Tracy Johnson at Arrow Express Sports at (905) 768-2225 or via email at

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