Jordan Robertson is a Toronto boy through and through. He grew up in the Beaches area of the city, and spent his entire minor lacrosse career—from age four to 21—playing in the Toronto Beaches program, save for a brief stint with the Whitby Warriors at the end of his final Jr A season. So when the time came to choose a post-secondary school, it's probably no surprise that he stayed in his home town to attend the University of Toronto to study biochemistry. As he puts it, he's been a Beaches player “pretty much since I could tie my shoes together.”
Now, as he's in the middle of his fourth and graduating year at U of T, Robertson has reached the high-water mark in his career so far; he's been drafted by the Toronto Rock of the National Lacrosse League. There's nowhere higher to go in box lacrosse than the NLL. Shortly after his season with the Varsity Blues finishes this fall, Robertson will head to training camp to try to make his lifelong dream of playig with the Rock come true.
Robertson was a fifth-round pick, 43rd overall, in the NLL draft, so it's far from a sure thing that the lefty forward will make the squad. But he's doing everything he can to prepare himself for his shot. “The season right now is where I'm trying to push myself a little bit, after practice try and get a little more work and get my fitness up,” Robertson says. “You push yourself this season so that it makes transitioning into training camp that much easier. So you put in the hard work. I don't want to say you're using it as a training session, but you work hard during this season so that the two weeks between the CUFLA season and the Rock, it'll be an easy transition.”
When he arrives at Oakville's Toronto Rock Athletic Centre for camp, he'll be hitting the floor beside some of the players he grew up watching. “It's crazy to think about how I grew up with a Colin Doyle sweater and got his autograph when I was eight, and now I'm going to training camp and playing against the guy. It'll be incredible.”
Part of Robertson's preparation for the pro game has been simply playing lots of lacrosse. That's part of the benefit of playing both the field and indoor games. It's given him plenty of time to practice. “Especially the last few years,” Robertson says. “I've played September to November with U of T, then last year I played CLax January through March, then you go right from that to training camp for junior season. Really I've been playing all year round for the last couple of years, which has been good. You never get rusty, you never fall behind. You're always improving yourself if you've got the stick in your hands 12 months a year.”
All that time on the field and floor helped to earn the distinction of being drafted, which was an exciting moment for Robertson. “To hear your name called...I was actually sitting studying for an exam. Well, half studying and half watching the draft online live streaming. When you hear your name called you kind of get that pit in your throat. It's excitement and you know that all that hard work has finally paid off, you're going to the big show now.”
There will be time to focus on Rock camp later in the fall, though. For now, Robertson has plenty to keep him busy. He's a diligent student, having made the Dean's list each of the past two years. And then there's the matter of helping the Varsity Blues try to take a step further than they've managed in his time with the team and reach the Baggataway Cup final six, to be held at Oshawa's Civic Fields November 7-9.
He says playing lacrosse actually helps him with his studies. “Absolutely. It forces you to be organized. It forces you to get things done and not push things off because you know that you have 10 hours of practice a week and two games on the weekend. You know that you have to bear down and get your work done or else you'll have to be forced to give up something you love doing.”
He says it's been great getting to play at U of T, giving him a chance to stay on the field. “After minor, you don't have a lot of opportunities to play field lacrosse competitively. Just from the life perspective, it's a great way to have a release doing something that you love doing when you're stressed out and trying to pass tests and stuff. There's some talented players in CUFLA, too, so you do get competitive games. I've really enjoyed my time playing, that's for sure.”
The Blues are battling for playoff positioning, currently sitting a game behind the defending Baggataway Cup champion Guelph Gryphons. Robertson says his experience with the Warriors, to whom he was traded for Whitby's playoff run at the end of his junior career, has just made him hungrier to help lead his team deeper into the CUFLA post-season. “I got my first real taste of playoff lacrosse last year with Whitby. It's a whole different dynamic. The pace, everything just changes overnight once the playoffs hit.”
To that end, he thinks U of T's smaller roster size than some other CUFLA teams may actually help their chances. “I think it helps, the small dynamic of our team really makes everybody gel together that much better.We're all good buddies on the team. I just think that team dynamic is really important to our success. We all want to play for each other, we see each other every day and we're good buddies. I think that helps out for sure.”
It will play out in the coming weeks: the Baggataway push and then the Rock camp. There's lots of excitement coming for Jordan Robertson, and it's all happening right in his home town of Toronto.