Derek Malawsky of the Portland Lumberjax

Derek Malawsky
In our next session of “Ask The Pro’s we head west again to speak with one of Coquitlam, British Columbia’s native sons, Derek Malawsky. Derek is in his 10th season playing Professional lacrosse and was picked up by Portland in the Dispersal draft from Arizona.

Derek has been a top scorer in both the Junior and Senior ranks of the Western Lacrosse Association. He’s won 2 Mann Cups and continues to excel offensively in the National Lacrosse League, (currently 3rd in team scoring for Portland).

Derek is also helping me currently own first place in my division of my NLL Fantasy Pool (yes I know how to pick ’em).  Another addition in the growing list of good guys in the game today, Derek Malawsky.


GM: When did you start playing lacrosse and where?

DM: I first started when I was 6 years old, in Coquitlam. British Columbia

GM: Describe who you feel were your biggest influences in your early lacrosse days?

DM: Biggest influence – My uncle Al, who influenced my brother to start playing; my brother then needed someone to throw the ball around with and so there you have it, we became lacrosse brothers.

GM: Give us a few lacrosse players you idolized as a youngster?

DM: I would go watch all the Sr. Adanacs games

Jim Veltman –w/ Coquitlam Adanacs

Paul and Gary Gait

GM: In 1994 you were the top scorer in the Western Lacrosse Junior A ranks. Describe that accomplishment and who some of your team mates were from that year.

DM: I played with a great group of lax players during my three years of Jr. ball – 1994 was my last year of Jr. and we had a great young crop of players come in and really worked well as an Offensive unit- Chris Konnopolis, Fyaz Bardai to name a few.

GM: You repeated that same accomplishment in 2000, this time in the Senior A series with Okanagan.

DM: In Kelowna, I was a go to guy and saw the ball a lot. At that point of my Sr. lacrosse career; I was really starting to come into my own and was very excited and inspired to make Lacrosse grow in the Interior of B.C.

GM: In British Columbia you’ve played on a few senior teams (New Westminster, Port Coquitlam, North Shore, and Okanagan, Victoria). Why so many moves?

DM: It sounds like a few teams but the reason for that was; as for the Port Coquitlam Team, it was a Senior B club and it was a one game stint; my good buddy Tosh played there and he wanted me to come out and play a game with him.

New Westminster was where I started my Senior lacrosse career; I played in 3 seasons, and then was involved in a trade to the North Shore Indians. I played a season there and the team was moved to the Interior of B.C., Okanagan (Kelowna) Thunder. We had a tough time financially keeping the team in the Interior. I was then approached by Lloyd Robbie, Victoria Shamrocks G.M. at the time and he asked if I would like to play in Victoria. I obliged, made my home on the Island and captured my dream of winning the Mann Cup!!!

GM: You’ve had the fortune of winning two Mann cup Championships with Victoria in 2003 and 2005. Describe the feeling of capturing that Championship. Was one sweeter than the other?

DM: One word – Jubilation, actually two – Relief. I went through 2 Minto’s and 2 Mann’s before I got my ring. You always dream of winning a championship but a lot of great players have gone their whole career without drinking from the holy grail. The first one was priceless, the sacrifice it takes from each player to achieve that common goal and finally get it – brothers forever!!

The second one just solidified that the first one wasn’t just luck! No, but really, you get to appreciate all the little things that you missed during the first experience; like the fans reactions, the players around you, and the emotions they are feeling. You live in the moment a little clearer and take away a lot. Each one has its own unique memory.

GM: In the National Lacrosse League you’ve played with Buffalo, Rochester, San Jose, Arizona, and now Portland. Excluding Portland, can you give us a few comments about your time in each city?

DM: Buffalo– The most exciting and entertaining brand of Lax I’ve played to date. We were a “Run and Gun” team through and through. The way Lacrosse should be played.

Rochester– We had a very talented team, some of the best fans to play for. What an advantage it is to play in such an environment as Roch cha cha!!

San Jose-We had a lot of the tools but under achieved. The potential was there to do some damage but we came up short. Hopefully SJ can put it together and grow the sport in the Bay area.

Arizona – Great Group of lacrosse players and people on that team. It would have been sweet to win one with such a great group. We were so close to a very good thing for many years to come. It’s a shame that we had to part ways!!

GM: Speaking of “Run and Gun”; there are reports that Philadelphia this season is running a hybrid 5 up 5 back system. What are your thoughts on the Offence / Defense game versus the old up and back system?

DM: That reminds me of back in the day when you needed to play all positions on the floor. A lot more opportunities can come from your own end as we are seeing today in transition type players. It really opens up the game a lot more and gives it a lot of flow.

It (5 up/5 back) seems to be working in Philly as they are currently undefeated. With the game of Lacrosse it is forever evolving and it continues to grow into an even more exciting game to watch.

GM: You’ve excelled offensively in on every team you’ve played for. Why do you feel you’ve been able to perform at that level for so long?

DM: I have taken great pride in how I prepare myself for each and every game I take the floor in. There are a combination of things that I have worked on throughout my Pro Career. It starts with a healthy diet, a training routine conducive to lacrosse specific movements, mental preparation, and lots of extra practice. I have also had the fortune to play alongside some talented individuals and have learned to absorb a lot of their skills in order to make me a better player today.

GM: Judging by the average age in the league today, you might be considered by some to be a wily veteran. How many more years do you see yourself playing?

DM: Yes I knew there would come a day when I would be called that (wily Veteran). But to me age is not a factor; the players around me keep me young and push me to succeed. When I first got asked that question at 30 years old, (how long do you see yourself playing Lax for), I said if I take care of my body and do the right things I could play until I am 40. Let’s see if that holds true????

GM: Do you have plans to get behind the bench or be involved in some other way when you’re playing days are over?

DM: I always want to give back to the sport that gave me so much in return. I have had thoughts of being an Offensive coach. There are some great coaches out there today and I will continue to learn the game through them and my experiences and maybe come time to hang ‘em up, I will see where I’m at then.

Fun Questions

GM: The one thing many people may not know about Derek Malawsky is…..

DM: I love to cook, with my Fiancée-Audra and drink Wine followed by a solid cigar!!

GM: Give us your favorite activity away from the lacrosse arena.

DM: Golf –relaxing and being outdoors.

GM: If you could play any other sport at this high a level it would be…..

DM: Golf again- the Body would love me for it!!

GM: Give us your ultimate interview (alive or deceased), and what would you ask them?

DM: Wayne Gretzky. Tell me what made you so great from the beginning.

GM: Being honest now, your favorite meal prior to a game (if it was your choice)?

DM: Right now it’s Chicken with pesto pasta; mixed greens with a vinaigrette.

GM: Derek, I thank you for doing this for us.

DM: Thank you.


1 Comment

  1. Its great to see a player of this calibre say he beleives that the “run and gun” is the way the game should be played .

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