Josh Hawkins has enjoyed a successful career in outdoor lacrosse, first at the prep and college levels and now in Major League Lacrosse.
But after a short stint with the Vancouver Stealth in 2014, he had put returning to box lacrosse professionally out of his mind. Until this summer, when a conversation with Boston Cannons’ teammate and New England Black Wolves’ veteran Kevin Buchanan changed his thinking.
“He mentioned something this summer about if I had thought about playing box again and that’s pretty much what sparked it,” Hawkins said, explaining his decision to return to the indoor game. “Also working for LSN (Lacrosse Sports Network) and following the teams and players last season and talking to people around the league, it sparked my interest and I said ‘I really want to be out there. I want to try this.’ After that conversation with Bucky, he talked to Rich Lisk and the coaching staff and got things started that way. We talked from pretty much the end of the summer until now and it worked out.”
Hawkins, who played football, lacrosse and basketball in high school, is looking forward to the heavy contact of the box lacrosse game.
“In the outdoor game, especially in college, I used my physicality to win my matchups,” he said. “That kind of changed the rules in the college game, and after my senior year, getting into the MLL that was another thing that I used to my advantage. The refs hate me. I’m always in the box. It’s something that I use as a player. I’m excited for the physicality. It’s definitely a grown man’s game and I’m excited for that. I remember my first off-ball pick playing in the NLL. It was Dane Dobbie of Calgary and he just crushed me from behind. It really woke me up to, ‘Hey this is totally a different game, but something I want to try and get better at.’”
Coming off of the best season of his young MLL career in 2016 when he had 14 points on 11 goals and three assists along with 51 ground balls and 14 caused turnovers, Hawkins believes he can contribute to the Black Wolves in a variety of ways.
“We have a great coaching staff,” Hawkins said. “That entire group, the careers they had, is absurd. I think being athletic and having a clean slate is something they can work with and mold…I’m a guy who is a one-timer. Show me something once and I can execute it the next time. I think I bring those things to the table and help anyway the team needs.”
Hawkins played collegiately at Loyola University in Maryland where he was a four-year starter, a two-time USILA All-American and a member of the 2012 NCAA Championship team. A native of Amherst, Mass., he is not only excited to be joining the Black Wolves but about what the team brings to the region.
“I think it’s awesome (having a professional box franchise in New England),” he said. “When the Boston Blazers were around, everyone loved it, but it just didn’t work out. I think we were well overdue in New England to have a team…Box lacrosse is growing in the area, especially with Connecticut having such a great outdoor scene at the youth level. I think that it’s something that everyone in America in the lacrosse community is starting to figure out, that you have to play box. It will make everyone better, especially for the outdoor game.”