We absolutely love it when people spread the good word that is LaxAllStars, and what we are about, so tweets like the one above are always appreciated, and truly brighten our already blinding days. However, it isn’t often that we get tweets and mentions from a Pro Wrestler and Spike TV personality, so we decided to look into it a little more. We soon found out that Taz was actually quite the lacrosse fan, so it only made sense that we would want to interview the guy!
LAS: We don’t usually (or ever) get mentioned in tweets from pro wrestlers who love lacrosse. Would you mind telling us a little about yourself and your connection to the game?
Taz: I tweeted about you guys because I’m a Lax Dad/Lax Fan, and I just wanted to help spread the word about the great game of lacrosse!
I have been in the Pro Wrestling industry for 24 years. The most notable companies I’ve spent my career with were the ECW, WWE and currently TNA. I was a wrestler for most of my career, but while in the WWE I morphed into a Color Commentator due to injuries. For the past 3 years I have worked for TNA Wrestling on Spike TV as a Color Commentator. As a kid, I was a product of the NYC school system and when I was in High School in the mid-80’s we never had lacrosse at any of the NYC schools. Therefore, I never had the opportunity of playing the game and ended up playing football in H.S. & College (CW Post).
The connection to LAX came through my son. He’s been playing lacrosse for the past few years and loves the game, so as soon as he picked up a stick for the first time, I embraced the game as well! We live on Long Island, so as you know we have a rich tradition for the game here and the club my son plays for (Long Island Express) basically works year round, so it’s perfect for him.
(Editor’s Note: In case you haven’t heard of the Long Island Express, that is the same organization that Billy Bitter (UNC/Denver Outlaws), Tom Schreiber (Princeton), Ryan Young (Maryland), and Mike Chanenchuk (just transferred to Maryland) all played for; The Tenacious Turtles, who just won the Dick’s Sporting Goods Tournament of Champions, also operate under the LI Express umbrella. Also, when Taz was in HS in NYC, we are only aware of two high schools that actually had lacrosse: Midwood and Jamaica.)
Had lacrosse been available to you as a kid, do you think you would have played? If so, what position?
Taz: Oh, absolutely I would’ve played! And I would’ve played Defense. I feel like my disposition fits the mindset of a D’man. I see a lot of the fire and motor I had as a wrestler in my son. As a matter of fact, MLL Star Defensmen Nicky Polanco is a very close friend of mine, and as I stated earlier my kid plays Defense, so him getting advice from a player (and person) like Nick has really helped accelerate his learning curve. Needless to say, I would’ve had Nicky train me to become a very nasty D’man!
Close friends with Nicky Polanco? Talk about jealous. I hear he dabbles in wrestling as well. Who would win if you and Polanco got in the ring together?
Taz: Nick trains in more of an MMA style grappling and he is a workhorse! I’m several years older than Nicky and I’m retired from in ring competition, not to mention I’m also beat up! So, now that all of my excuses are out of the way, I would say Nick would have a slight edge! BUT, if I was in my prime, #41 would’t last long with yours truly! That would be like me playing attack vs. Nicky, and I attempt to go to the cage… he would eat me up!!
Speaking of playing the game, do you ever play? Any chance we might see you playing in some pick-up games in the future?
Taz: Speaking on behalf of my knees, neck, bicep tears, shattered elbows and torn triceps….NO! An emphatic NO! I’m banged up, bro!!
Would you mind telling us a little about your son? Growing up in a hot bed, playing for the LI Express, and getting tips of the trade from Polanco… it sounds like he is becoming quite the lacrosse player!
Taz: My son, Tyler, is in Middle School, and he is doing very well both academically and athletically. He has a strong work ethic and his Express team plays at a high level; most of the other clubs they play are great teams. You only get better by being around BETTER people! On Long Island we have so much young talent, it just makes all these kids excel.
I will tell you how I feel about all youth athletes though; the most CONSISTENT thing about ANY youth athlete is that they are INCONSISTENT! That includes my son, he is still learning and working on getting better and better. But, he also plays the game very fast and his lacrosse IQ is strong. He has also been lucky thus far to be exposed to great coaching for the past several years. Tyler was introduced to the game of lacrosse by Mike Chanenchuk Sr., and he was the first person to put a lacrosse stick in my son’s hands. Currently, Ty is doing a lot defensive training with Coach John Lynott and other Express coaches so it’s going great and the kid is having a blast!
With you being heavily involved in wrestling, did your son pick up that gene too, or is he strictly lacrosse?
Taz: Yup, Ty was heavily involved with Youth MMA and Wrestling, and from about the time he was five years old he was on a mat grappling. In my home gym I have a mat so I have been rolling around with him since he was around two or three. But lately, he has kind of leaned more towards football and lacrosse, so the past few years he hasn’t wrestled. The Middle School wrestling coach really wanted him to wrestle for the school but he wanted to focus on speed training and lax training during the off season. Once he gets to High School I would rather him not wrestle, but my wife and I leave that stuff up to him.
Athletes today are looking for all sorts of new and challenging workouts to supplement their traditional ones during the off-season. What makes wrestling such an attractive outlet to use for lacrosse players at any position?
Taz: Cardio, cardio, and more cardio! Nothing better than any type of grappling or wrestling to get better endurance. Also, it will keep any excess pounds off you due to the fact you will be burning a ton of calories. It’s the physicality of wrestling that can translate to lacrosse. Let’s say there is a scrum for a groundball or especially on the all-important face off! I believe there are many face off guys who are good amateur wrestlers.
Funny things is though, our World Champion in TNA is Bobby Roode. Bobby is from the Toronto area and played LAX in high school and was teammates with John Grant Jr. and also played with Tracy Kelusky of the Buffalo Bandits in the NLL.
Being in the Pro Wrestling industry for 24 years has probably taught you a thing or two about getting noticed and making it big at the next level. Given your background in media, do you see lacrosse becoming a major sport in America in the near future?
Taz: Yes I do! The game is growing in rapid fashion on the youth level! There is definitely more growth on big time networks in regards to NCAA Lacrosse. It’s just a matter of time until the fastest game on two feet is mainstream. The sport is spreading nationwide also, areas like Coronado (CA), Denver, Texas, Florida, Georgia are all building the growth of lacrosse. But to me, the hotbeds of the sport remain the Northeast… from MD to PA to CT to Upstate NY and especially (in my opinion) Long Island.
Now that you’ve hung up your Championship belt, you run the Team Taz Finishing Camp, which is all about passing on your knowledge to fellow wrestlers trying to reach the next level (‘growing the game’ at its finest). Why is giving back to the industry in this way such an important part of any sport?
Taz: That’s how any sport or business grows and succeeds! Pass on knowledge and experience to those younger than us. Just like when I was coming up as a wrestler, I was fortunate enough to have people wiser than me from my business HELP me! Men like Kevin Sullivan & Paul Heyman were very influential in my career early on. Same with GOOD coaching for Middle School or High School laxers!
Any chance you could give us a prediction for the winners of the 2012 MLL Championship game or NCAA Championship game?
Taz: Sure, but lots of players moved around during this MLL off season. Hard to tell how any team looks right now but I think Charlotte is gonna be legit right away, Cannons, Outlaws and my Lizards (even though half the team is GONE! Jeez!).
For the NCAA, it’s going to be a DOGFIGHT! There are so many great programs and to top it off I know many players currently playing for some of these programs. Players from U of Maryland, Princeton, and Hopkins that help train with my son (and his team) that I don’t want to make mad! But I feel the 4 teams in the end will be, in no particular order: Duke, Cornell, Virginia, and Syracuse with Maryland as an honorable mention.
And last but certainly not least, what’s your favorite part about the Lacrosse All Stars website?
Taz: Overall, just the insight and passion for lacrosse that your website displays! My kid informed me about your site and twitter page a while ago. We also love all the gear someone can checkout on there also!