RUBISCH GOES FROM PROSPECT TO PRO
8/5/11 8:00 PM
By Craig Rybczynski – August 5, 2011
Kyle Rubisch’s career has suddenly moved from highly-touted prospect to established professional in a matter of seven months. From Brampton to Boston to Prague to Hamilton, he has proven he is one of the top young players in lacrosse today.
Rubisch grew up in the box lacrosse hotbed of Brampton, Ontario, like so many of his Hamilton Nationals teammates that hail from cities like Orangeville, St. Catharines, Vancouver, Calgary, Port Moody, New Westminster and Toronto. He developed his game in the Brampton minor lacrosse system. That’s when he was introduced to the outdoor game. He was immediately drawn to one of the blue-collar positions on the field, long-pole defense.
“The field game was introduced to us when we were young. They showed us the six-foot pole and I thought it would be cool to play with and whack people with so I gave it a shot and I've played long pole ever since,” he said. “It definitely benefits my outdoor game as it aids with quickness and endurance, but I also think that from indoor it brings a certain level of toughness to my game in outdoor.”
In September, he was drafted second overall in the National Lacrosse League Entry Draft behind only Cody Jamieson. Rubisch was selected by the Boston Blazers and led the defense, recording a rookie and team-high 143 loose balls. He earned All-Rookie Team honors in the NLL for the fourth-place Blazers.
“My first season was an amazing experience in Boston. We had our ups and downs, but I learned a lot in my first year and was able to have a successful season. Hopefully, next season we can go further and make a run.”
His standout performance in the NLL was not a surprise to indoor experts. Rubisch was a hot-shot prospect after playing for the Major Series Lacrosse Brampton Excelsiors in the 2010 Ontario Finals. In 2009, he was named the OLA Junior “A” Playoff MVP, Defensive MVP, and was a First Team OLA All-Star. He also received Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Canadian honors by the Inside Lacrosse.
But the indoor game was not the only lacrosse that he was proficient in as he excelled at the NCAA level. That led to his selection by the Hamilton Nationals first overall in the Major League Lacrosse Supplemental Draft in December. Rubisch was coming back home after playing his college ball at Division II Dowling College. In his senior season, he earned First Team All-American and All-Conference honors, as he led his team to a 12-2 record while earning upsets over nationally ranked teams along the way.
“It was definitely an honor to get selected first when there were so many talented players that could have been selected,” said the 6-3, 210-pound Rubisch. “It’s an amazing experience to play in this league, especially for a team close to home.”
Rubisch has played in nine of the team’s 10 games and has become a reliable player on a defense with a mixture of veterans and first-year pros. Joining Rubisch in their rookie seasons are Kevin Ridgway and Bill Henderson. The trio joined five-time Warrior Defensive Player of the Year Brodie Merrill, veteran Sol Bliss, Sid Smith and Steven Waldeck.
The 22 year old was one of the first additions to a team that has undergone a series of changes, especially on defense. The Nationals have benefitted from the overhaul, winning five of their last six games. Hamilton has zoomed into second place with a 6-4 record and can clinch a playoff berth and take over first place with a win over Boston Saturday.
“I am enjoying it a lot. We have a younger team that works hard every game and is getting better as the season goes. The league is competitive and all the games are exciting,” said Rubisch.
Rubisch has learned the most from Merrill, both on and off the field. He picked a good role model as Merrill is closing in on Paul Cantabene for first all-time in ground balls. He also stands as the top point-producing defenseman and leads the MLL in ground balls.
“I would say the major thing I've learned from Brodie is from watching him play. He makes everyone around him better with his skill and work ethic,” he said. “He never stops. You try to mimic his work ethic and his hustle rubs off on the rest of the team.”
Rubisch and Merrill were teammates just two months ago with Team Canada at the 2011 FIL World Indoor Lacrosse Championships. The Canadians struck gold for the third straight time and Rubisch won his first international tournament. He was also acknowledged for his play in the six-team event in Prague with his selection as one of the top two defensemen, joining Nationals teammate Sid Smith.
“It was one of the best moments in my life. When you have the chance to represent your country and then win with that group of guys it’s definitely something special,” he said. “It was definitely an honor, but our entire defensive core was so talented and hardworking that it made it very easy to play well with them.”
If his play this year is any indication of things to come, he will have more memorable moments in a long pro lacrosse career.