2018 NLL season: Part 1
The year was off to a great start, physically I was in great shape and when it came to Lacrosse IQ, it was the highest it's ever been. After the 2016 season I felt I had a good grasp on my weaknesses and where I should focus my training. I also made it a point to watch NLL Game film weekly to ensure I was increasing my lacrosse IQ and learning the tendencies of my opponents. As New England Black Wolves training camp commenced I felt great, performing at a high level excited to get the season underway. After the final training camp of the preseason, the coaching staff and GM mentioned they would be reaching out to the players who made the final roster and would hit the ground running. To be quite honest, over the last three professional lacrosse seasons I've played this was the least concerning performance of them all.
Tuesday, after that final training camp, I received a call from friend and New England Black Wolves GM, Rich Lisk. Rich mentioned this was the hardest call he had to make in his career. That meant a lot to me. I think the world of Rich and the entire New England Black Wolves organization. Rich explained the team wanted to go in a different direction. To say I was surprised is an understatement. I was asked not to say anything via social media, so I did not. After the team released the final roster, the fans of New England were in an uproar. Some fans wondered if there was a mistake, if I retired, or asked for a trade. I received so many DMs, emails and comments that I was a bit overwhelmed. The fans made sure to let New England know they were not happy with the decision to release me. The support was amazing, and I was truly honored and grateful. But I felt the need to say something, and wrote this open letter that I posted on my social media.
Open Letter to the Pack.
As most of you may know, I was recently released from the New England Black Wolves team. It came as a shock to my family and I, as I have trained harder than ever before and really focused on developing my lacrosse IQ. As I received the news from my friend and Black Wolves, GM Rich Lisk, I’m left wondering what I could’ve done more, how could I have earned a spot. I’m the type of person who doesn’t dwell too much on the negative, but rather I see this adversity as an opportunity to become better, extra fuel on my internal fire. Rich spent the time to explain the decisions, thought process and direction of the team. I have the upmost respect for Coach Clark, Coach Kelusky, Coach Veltman and Coach Clem. From the ownership group who gave me my first opportunity with the NLL, down to management and staff who gave me an opportunity to connect with fans; it’s been nothing but professionalism both ways. The men I went to battle with week in and week out for three years, I cannot say enough about each and every one of you. My teammates are my brothers each one impacting me in different way, earning my respect. I am honored to have worn the New England Black Wolves number 96 Jersey.
Knowing the great competitiveness this training camp brought, I knew that whoever came out on the other end would be the best available. To the New England Black Wolves GM, Rich Lisk’s credit, they were able to find world class lacrosse players and invite them to camp. With each guy having the opportunity to prove themselves, every shift. That’s the true beauty of Professional Sports, all that matters is whether you can perform better than the next guy or not. As professional athletes, we thrive in these environments, our innate competitiveness comes out in full force. We realize that we are each individually accountable for our performance and the ramifications of that performance. I am 100% accountable for not making the New England Black Wolves, not the organization, not the coaches, me: Bill O’Brien. Knowing this, fuels me to work harder, come back stronger and faster; not dwell on what could’ve been. I find comfort in being able to earn your keep. I am humbled by the talent pool in the National Lacrosse League.
Once news was released there was an overwhelming response to the new roster and the changes that were made. A large number of Black Wolves fans were upset that I was not on the new 2018 Roster. They ensured that the New England Black Wolves knew they were upset. The support and messages I received have been truly amazing and eye opening. I am honored to have met all the amazing friends who watched our games and am grateful to have impacted you in a positive way. If watching my gameplay inspired you to pick up a stick or come back to another game, I am eternally grateful. This truly is the greatest feeling for a professional athlete. Positively impacting someone through your interactions and performance. You are one of the main reasons we leave everything we have out on the Mohegan Sun Arena, Wolf Den every week. I am truly grateful for all the friends I’ve made the past three years in New England.
While the support is astonishing and I am truly grateful. I have always played for the men sitting beside me in the locker room wearing the same logo on our chest. The men who I would risk it all for and in return get the same. I cannot help but put myself in my former teammates shoes and see their perspective: Likely hoping for an excited fan base to play in front of, hoping for congratulations on earning their spots.
I hope this helps to allow for better understanding. Each of us players understand professional lacrosse is a finite career, eventually we will all be traded, released or retired. You wish the best for the men who went to battle with you and continue to have a mutual respect for them and their careers. I solely did not make the New England Black Wolves organization into what it is, each man who wore the Black Wolves Jersey created our identity. From the world class ownership group, down to the last man on the depth chart and all the staff in between. The New England Black Wolves coaching staff has spent a lot of time and energy to put together the best team possible, each man earning their spot on the roster. I would ask that you trust the Owners, Management and Coaching staff the way I have and will continue to do. If not for the teams’ sake for the other 24 players on the roster who’ve played their heart out for you and will continue to do so. As players we sacrifice a great deal. I do not want my release from the Black Wolves to diminish what the world class lacrosse players, former teammates and friends have achieved. As Glenn Clark would say ‘believe in the process’. If you are a Bill O’Brien fan it is because Owner Mike French called me to tryout and the New England Black Wolves gave me an opportunity. It was mine to earn and mine to lose, the New England Black Wolves did not determine my fate.
Lastly, I hope that you know how greatly appreciative I am for the outpouring of support. I consider the New England Black Wolves organization from owners to fans my family. As I mentioned previously, the last thing I want to do is take away from what the 2018 New England Black Wolves earned. I’m asking all New England Black Wolves fans to: ‘Trust the process’, trust your team, support the new faces and the returning veterans. Adversity molds the character of men, for better or for worse. The beauty of it all is that we can control how we respond. This isn’t the end, this is just a new beginning. I will always have a spot in my heart for the brothers I’ve made in New England, the fans who cheered for me and the leaders who gave me my shot.
Until next time,
This letter was my way of showing the future generations, fans, and old teammates that character shouldn't waver in times of adversity but rather be revealed. In my mind this was my opportunity to show the naysayers and the people who believe in me that I can overcome this...