Toronto Rock Captain Jim Veltman

In this weeks session of “Ask A Pro” we sit down with the leader of the Toronto Rock in so many ways; captain Jim Veltman. His absence from the team to start the 2007 season certainly hurt the Rock, but since his return, the Rock have looked like a different team. Although he is turning 41 in just a few days, Jim is still the heart and soul of this team and hopefully for fans of the game, we will see him playing a few more years yet.

GM: Where did you play your minor lacrosse, and who would you say was your biggest influence early on?

JV: I played minor lacrosse for the Brampton Excelsiors and my coaches were my biggest influence early on. My favourite Senior A player was Bob Burke.

GM: What are your most vivid memories of your minor lacrosse days?

JV: The atmosphere and fun I had playing in tournaments.

GM: You have always been a play maker at both ends of the floor, and are a player that is out on the floor at any critical time of the game. Is that something that you consciously work on in practice?

JV: I was a goal scorer for most of my life but back then we played both ends of the floor so I was forced to learn defence as well. As I got older in the pros I consciously made an effort to play better defense so that I’d add more versatility and value to my game.

GM: It is kind of funny because when I look at your stats, I almost feel like I must be speaking to a retired player with all of your accomplishments. How do you keep going year after year and play at such a high level?

JV: I try to add something to my health each year because I know I’m battling against time.  Things like green tea, less red meat, more carbs, yoga, more fitness, etc.

GM: Of all of your Championships, which one stands out for you as the one most special?

JV: My first Mann Cup in 1992. I grew up wanting it so bad knowing it was the ultimate prize in lacrosse. So to win it for the first time was unbelievable. Actually each championship has its own story that makes it special.

GM: You also have many personal awards; which one are you most proud of?

JV: I can’t honestly say because they were never very important to me. I’ve always wondered why they are given out to individuals in a team sport. It doesn’t make sense to me. Individuals are usually embarrassed when they win them. If I was pressed to choose I guess I would say the 2005 NLL MVP because it was the first time it was not awarded to a leading point player. It finally recognized the importance of players who lead in other ways besides points.

GM: Did you ever play Field Lacrosse and what are your thoughts on the game?

JV: The first time and last time I played field lacrosse was for the 1998 Canadian team at the Worlds in Baltimore. It was a fun atmosphere but I found the game itself boring to play. Not enough action and quick decisions for my liking. I enjoy coaching it far better.

GM: For the last few seasons you’ve played Senior B lacrosse (for the Ajax-Pickering Rock) instead of Senior A in the summer. How did you find Senior B lacrosse?

JV: I really enjoyed playing Senior B because it’s played by passionate players who are trying to make it to the next level. I knew the coaching staff real well and it gave me a chance to mentor some of these players and improve their game.

GM: There seems to be a few MSL / NLL players choosing the Senior B path. Do you feel it is so that they can maintain their skills, with a little less time commitment?

JV: It was one of the reasons I chose to play Senior B. Other reasons included the proximity of Ajax-Pickering to my home, less games, playoffs end earlier, weekend games, and a little less intensity yet skilled enough to keep me sharp and in shape.

GM: Describe what playing for a Coach like Les Bartley meant to you?

JV: Les taught me a lot about lacrosse but also about how to be a better person. He was like a second father/friend to me. We shared a lot of lacrosse ideas and life ideas. I really miss him. His approach to coaching will be a standard for me one day. As a player, you never questioned his passion or motives. He gave you a role to play and expected a lot but you always new he was working just as hard if not harder at his role.

GM: How much longer do you feel you will continue to play?

JV: I will play as long as I’m having fun and my body is able.

GM: You have indicated that you’d like to Coach when you are finished your playing days. Is that still in your plans?

JV: Yes, I am planning to coach in the NLL one day.

OK so now we have a few fun questions to ask you….

GM: Your favourite place to play (not including the ACC) is…….

JV: Buffalo because it’s where I started my MILL/NLL career.

GM: If you could change one thing in your lacrosse career (a game result or otherwise) would you, and what would it be?

JV: Two. The Coquitlam 1988 Mann Cup series loss to Brookiln. The 2001 NLL Championship loss to Philadelphia. When you get so far, to lose is really tough.

GM: The best compliment you could receive if someone were to describe Jim Veltman the lacrosse player, would be to hear that he is……..

JV: That he is… a great all-round player and leader both on and off the floor.

GM: The best players you have ever played with and played against are….

JV: John Tavares. I played with him and against him for many years and he is my all-time favourite. He’s even better than people already realize.

GM: If you had your choice to interview any sports person past or present who would it be?

JV: Muhammad Ali. I’m fascinated with him.

GM: Jim thank you for doing this for us.

JV: Thank You.

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