Perseverance is a noun, defined as steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. Black Wolves forward Pat Saunders embodies the word.
Drafted in the sixth round, 76th overall, in the 2008 NLL Entry Draft by the Chicago Shamrox, Saunders spent time in Minnesota, Rochester and Toronto before solidifying his place in the NLL as a member of the Philadelphia Wings in 2014 out of free agent camp. The lefty forward has been a mainstay in the lineup since.
In 2016, Saunders posted in third consecutive year of single-season career highs for goals (44), assists (32), points (76), loose balls (76) and power play goals (16). He also had seven hat tricks during the season, another career-best.
Now entering his fourth full season with the Black Wolves, Saunders is looking forward to building on the momentum from last season’s East Division Finals appearance, starting with the beginning of training camp this weekend.
“Last year we hadn’t really all played together as a team (before the season), so this year we can finally say we’ve had a full year and offseason with the full team,” he said. “We fell short to Buffalo and I think we all know what it is going to take to get to the next step. We’ve had some key pickups throughout the offseason so it’s going to be good to get back with the guys and get back on that winning way.”
Since he was last in New England, Saunders spent time playing with the Kahnawake Mohawks in the Quebec Senior Lacrosse League, where he took home First Team honors while finishing second in the President’s Cup. Off the turf, he started his own company last fall and completed his first build for a custom home with his brother this summer.
An isolated concrete form (ICF) home, which is the best energy-efficient house you can build, the bungalow has a country feel with stone on the outside and unique finishings on the inside. This may be the first for the company but will not be the last.
“Building a few a year would be nice,” he said. “Obviously as a business owner you want to keep steady and not take on too much work so you can get it all done. So it’s kind of maintaining what you can control and get done in a year.”
Saunders is taking the same approach on the field.
Heading into this season, he is planning out his newest stick design, something that has become a hobby for him. He dyes and strings his own sticks each season and has done so for a number of teammates as well. The process, from planning, cutting and dying the vinyl and stringing the head, takes anywhere from five to six hours.
“I’m from a small town, there isn’t a lot to do around here so lacrosse gave me something to do,” Saunders explained. “I started fooling around with my sticks at a young age and taught myself and now some of the guys ask me to do their sticks too. It’s personal to me and I like that I can take what I want and put it on my own stick.”
A veteran on a team that has seen a number of new faces added in the past two offseasons, Saunders prefers to have his play on the turf, and his perseverance in getting there, speak for itself.
“I’m the type of player who works hard and does the things that I do well,” he said. “If you work hard, the guy beside you is going to see that you’ve put in the extra effort. It’s to show the young guys what it takes to be in this league because it took me a while to get into it and you really have to cherish every opportunity you get to play.”
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