Player Spotlight

Player Spotlight highlights the finer details and elements while supplying insight to the fans on what a player's thought process may be pertaining to a certain play, game or situation. It brings the intensity, passion, and inner most thoughts of the individual player that otherwise may not be felt or heard.

Dan Coates of the Colorado Mammoth is in the PLPA Player Spotlight. by TY PILSON

To be fair, it was like asking a parent to pick their favourite child.

So when Dan Coates was put on the spot and asked what gold medal means more to him - the one he just won with Team Canada at the world indoor lacrosse championships at the Onondaga Nation in September or the one he collected wearing the Red and White in Denver in 2014 at the world field lacrosse championships - he took the high road.

"Can't say I have a favourite," laughed Coates. "They're both special to me."

So where are the medals right now? How is he displaying them? One can only guess what kind of elaborate monument has been erected to house that impressive hardware.

Ya, right!

Being a good, down-to-earth Canadian lacrosse boy, it came as no surprise to hear the rather understated state of the medals.

"They're hanging on a nail right now," said Coates. "Nothing too crazy."

Coates is one of a handful of Canadian players who were part of both the indoor and outdoor national teams, whose victories cemented Canada as Numero-Uno right now in the lacrosse world when comes to both variations of the Creator's Game.

"It's been a great feeling," said Coates. "Anytime you get to represent your country it's truly an honour and to add gold is icing on the cake."

Coates had praise for his teammates on both clubs - one an underdog and the other heavily favoured - for their drive and determination to win it all for Canada.

"I heard Zack Greer say it best: 'When you surround yourself with great people, good things happen," said Coates.

The gold-medal indoor victory in Syracuse capped off what has been a busy year for Coates, one of the lucky ones who plays lacrosse year-round. After the win in Denver, he went on to win a Mann Cup with the Six Nations Chiefs and then took to the floor with the Colorado Mammoth. When the NLL season ended, it was back to Six Nations and then the world indoor championships. Amid all his successes there have been disappointments, too.

The Mammoth's season ended with a playoff loss at the hands of the Roughnecks and a more recent tough Game 7 defeat to the Peterborough Lakers in the Ontario final, which ended their drive for a third consecutive Mann Cup.

"It was tough," said Coates. "The last few years we've played Peterborough in the Ontario final and it's just a war. We were fortunate in 2013 and 2014 to win the Mann Cup and they were great runs. So to lose by one-goal to Peterborough in Game 7 and see them go out West was tough. Obviously you kind or follow it but it was hard for me to tune in when you want to be there in Victoria competing."

The fact he is able to spend all of his time with a stick in his hands playing the game he loves isn't lost on Coates, who is grateful for the opportunities he's been given.

"Trust me, I grew up with a lot of good lacrosse players and they're working the 9-to-5s right now and I've been fortunate enough since I graduated college at Canisius to do this and I never take it for granted," sad Coates. "It's been a few unbelievable years."

And despite how busy he's been, Coates had no big plans for the small off-season he'd have before the Mammoth open their camp at the end of November.

"I don't like sitting around too often," said Coates. "I get a little antsy. I'm always kind of focused on the next goal and the next thing ahead of me."

That next thing is continuing to build the Mammoth brand in Denver, he said, and ultimately hoist a Champion's Cup.

Coates said winning is obviously paramount in professional sports but the time the Colorado players spend in the community at school events, visiting hospitals and taking part in charitable endeavours is an important part of what they do as Mammoth ambassadors.

"We're obviously trying to grow our brand," said Coates, who now also works as a lacrosse coach at the Colorado Academy, a private prep school. "We have a great respect for the Denver community and we have a solid image in that city and want to keep building on that."

5 Questions with Dan Coates

Question 1. At what age did you start playing lacrosse and how did you get involved in the game?

I started playing around the age of 10. I was really big into soccer in the summer months before I picked up a lacrosse stick. A lot of my hockey buddies were playing so I thought I would give it an honest try. My grandad played and won a Minto in 1950 with the St. Catharines Athletics so I'm sure he was in my ear as well.

Question 2. Who's the toughest player for you to go up against in the NLL?
Answer Curtis Dickson keeps your hands full. A dynamic player, can take you underneath with an inside roll to dive across the crease or can get a very dangerous shot off fading away from the net. Mark Matthews is another guy we see a lot in the West. A big body, deceptively fast. He can shoot runners, over top of you and if you challenge him with a bad approach it is an easy swim move for Mark towards the goal.

Question 3. What are your pre-game superstitions?
Answer I try not to be that superstitious on game day. Sometimes I think it can be more of a distraction. Obviously you go through some small routines to get mentally ready for the game but I'm more or less making sure I'm properly hydrated and putting the right food in my body leading up to the game.

Question 4. Describe your stick setup: What type of pocket, how many shooting strings, whip on a scale of 1-10, tape job, etc.?
Answer I like a mid-high pocket. Pretty much whatever Junior or my brother will string me. I usually have 4 shooters and I tape my stick all the way from the bottom to the top.

Question 5. Who is your lacrosse idol?
Answer I didn't really have one guy I looked up to as an idol. I followed the Toronto Rock when I was younger and guys like Jim Veltman, Colin Doyle and Steve Toll were guys I enjoyed watching play. Two players that I got to see a lot of first hand were Craig Conn and Sean Greenhalgh playing for the St. Catharines Athletics. These guys were dominating the junior scene and it was a lot of fun watching them go to work every Wednesday night at BBA in St. Kitts. The Athletic teams from 2001-2003 winning and competing for Minto's made me want to pursue lacrosse. I wanted to be apart of it.

PLPA Correspondent

Ty Pilson has been covering the NLL since 2000 for the Calgary Sun, Inside Lacrosse and He was named the Tom Borrelli Award winner as the league's media person of the year in 2007. Having played the game growing up and being passionate about the sport, he is active in Calgary's lacrosse community as a coach and board member with the Axemen minor lacrosse association.

Previous Spotlights