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.
It's that shot, though.
Deadly accurate from the perimeter, it's a shot that's made Corey Small a big name in the world of lacrosse, and it didn't happen by accident. It took hours and years of practice, with teams and by himself. And that doesn't happen without a passion for the game.
And when you're a kid in St. Catharines, lacrosse isn't hard to come by. The bug got to Small and he's emerged as one of the most reliable and consistent shooters in the game, these days for the Vancouver Stealth after breaking in as a 2009 first-round draft choice of the then-Edmonton Rush.
This past winter with the Stealth, Small's game reached a new level when he scored a career-best 46 goals and cleared 100 points (111) for the first time in his 7-year career.
Small took a break during his summer lacrosse with the Victoria Shamrocks to fill us in with some thoughts on his journey to the professional ranks, along with how he's doing what he's doing and some advice for the young sticks out there.
|Growing up in St. Catharines, what are your earliest memories of lacrosse and how you got started?|
My earliest memories of lacrosse were going to watch my oldest cousin play. I think that's how I got started for the most part. I remember at the time I was playing baseball in the summer as well and my parents were constantly going back and forth between the baseball field and the lacrosse floor. Eventually summer became all about lacrosse.
|While playing Junior A, who were the NLL players you looked up to tried to emulate?|
There were 2 players I idolized and they were John Tavares and Colin Doyle.
|When did it first occur to you that you had the skill and talent for a future in professional lacrosse?|
Playing professional lacrosse was a goal I had since a young age when I saw my first Bandits game. I think I started to realize it was possibility to play in the NLL after I had a couple solid years of Junior lacrosse. I started getting called up to play Senior ball. I was 17 and by no way a stand out, but I could definitely hold my own.
|You grew up playing in Ontario, but have spent your adult lacrosse life in Edmonton, Langley and Victoria. From your perspective, what's the most obvious difference between East and West lacrosse, if any?|
As far as talent it's pretty similar, but I would say the biggest difference, especially between the WLA and MSL, is that the East is more of a finesse style of play whereas the West is definitely a more physical game.
|Are you the superstitious type? Any pre-game rituals?|
|Nothing crazy. Just a pre-game nap and a coffee on the way to the rink.
|You've built a reputation with your outside shot being so accurate. What kind of specific work was part of your approach to get your shot to where it is today?|
I think it all started from a young age. I used to practice shooting for hours everyday. I would turn it into a game to see how many times I could hit the same corner in a row without missing. I also would make a rule for myself that I couldn't go back inside or stop shooting until I hit each corner of the net consecutively without missing. If I missed one I had to start over. I still do this stuff today after morning shoot around to get prepped for the game.
Also, when I was younger watching Sean Greenhalgh play for the Jr Athletics and John Tavares for the Bandits, I just wanted to shoot the ball like those guys.
|You had your best NLL season last year in terms of points. What enabled you with the Stealth to put up such big numbers?|
I think the biggest difference this season was our coaches moving me to the top of the power play. Naturally from that position you get more points and more opportunities to shoot the ball.
Let's wrap this up with some quick shots:
|Favorite road NLL barn to play in?|
|Langley Event Centre
|Toughest road NLL barn?|
|Toughest/meanest defender(s) you've played against?|
| Billy D. Smith
|Which goalie is toughest to beat?|
|Pancakes or French toast?|
|Super Bowl champ in 2018?|
|Not a huge football guy.....but since I'm on the West Coast....Seahawks
|Name a surfstop movie, one you've seen many times but still watch whenever you find it while channel surfing?|
| Shawshank Redemption
|And finally, what advice do you give young lacrosse players who dream of playing pro ball?|
|PRACTICE. Not just with your team either. The time you put in on your own is what's going to separate yourself from everyone else. Perfect example: When I first got to high school in St. Catharines there was a story of a guy that started playing lacrosse at 16 and he would bring his stick everywhere. Walking to hallway, to class, literally everywhere. Constantly practicing. That guy ended up being Mark Steenhuis. Needless to say, I started to bring my stick everywhere too.
Bob Chavez has been covering the NLL since 1995 and has been a writer/editor for ILIndoor.com since its inception in 2008. He lives in the Finger Lakes region of New York with his wife and 2 children.