Heading into the 2017 NLL Entry Draft in September, members of the New England Black Wolves coaching and scouting staffs had one name on all of their lists – Colton Watkinson.
A two-time All-American who won three NCAA Division II titles while at Limestone, the 6-foot-4 transition player was selected with the seventh overall pick. That pick was acquired by the Black Wolves in a draft day trade with the Georgia Swarm specifically to get Watkinson.
“Colton was someone that we really looked at from the beginning,” Black Wolves general manager Rich Lisk said at the time. “His name came up on everyone’s list. He stood out in the combine, coming in second in the testing. He is someone that can get up the floor and score and run the floor.”
Five games into his NLL career, Watkinson has started every game for the Black Wolves and is enjoying every minute of his time on the turf.
“It’s been tremendous,” he said of the experience so far. “The level of support we get from the fans and the feedback we have is unreal. Playing in the league is a dream come true. It’s a great feeling, going out and being able to play in front of lots of fans and being able to interact with them after the games.”
Even with the success he has seen so far with six points on one goal and five assists to go along with 15 loose balls and five caused turnovers, Watkinson knows that in order to be successful in this league you can’t rest on your laurels.
“It takes a lot of hard work,” he explained. “You just have to trust the process, trust what the coaches are telling you. Every game you have to go out there and play it like it’s your last because the guys you are playing against are going to treat it that way and if you take anyone lightly you’re not going to come away with a win.”
A native of Burlington, Ontario, Watkinson grew up watching Toronto Rock games at the Air Canada Centre. On Saturday, he will play his first professional game there in front of an estimated 60 family and friends.
“It’s going to be a fun homecoming and a dream come true to play at the ACC,” he said. “They’re right behind us in the East and overall in the NLL standings, so it’s going to be a good game. They’re a fun team to watch as well. They play a little bit like us – they are fast from the back end. It’s going to be a fast game.”