Editor’s note: Our chat with Paul Rabil is sponsored by SISU Guard, official mouthguard of Team USA. LaxAllStars is proud to be working with SISU and US Lacrosse to cover Team USA any way possible!
If you aren’t familiar with Paul Rabil, even just slightly, you probably aren’t a big lacrosse person. If you’ve even read this far, we can safely assume you’re evenly slightly intrigued by the game. We are sure you’ve seen Rabil’s gear line, massive social media presence, highlight films, training tips, and/or his mug plastered anywhere and everywhere the MLL, US Lacrosse, and so many of his sponsors market.
He’s been known as lacrosse’s “Million Dollar Man” and has been called the greatest lacrosse player alive. His high profile career moves, like the trade from Boston to New York, are blown up to the biggest proportions. When Rabil does just about anything, the lacrosse world knows about it. Love or hate his image, you can’t argue that he’s not one of the best in the business. Through the Paul Rabil Foundation, the Paul Rabil Experience, his constantly evolving social media and online presence, and so much more, Rabil is consistently finding new and unexplored ways of growing his personal brand. In turn, all of Rabil’s ventures directly give back to his community and help elevate lacrosse as a whole.
It’s no secret he’s a business man. Heck, give one listen to his Suiting Up podcast and you’ll get a pretty clear idea that this 6’4″ 240 pound athletic specimen is constantly thinking outside the painted lines. He’s compensated well for his efforts, but that’s only thanks to his round-the-clock dedication to growing himself as a business, a human, and an athlete. By focusing on all three categories, we’ve seen a transformation over the years of Paul becoming one of the largest entities in the sport, a presence that eventually earned him the moniker as the “face of lacrosse.”
When you’ve hit that threshold, what comes next is endless amounts of internal and external pressure. For a guy that’s capitalized on his success, over and over again, you can only imagine how coming up short of the gold medal at the 2014 FIL World Lacrosse Championships must have felt. Especially since the games were on home soil and Rabil was a captain. Yet, he didn’t point fingers on why and how it happened. He went back to work. Four years later, Rabil is back on Team USA’s official roster for the 2018 World Games, this time in Netanya, Israel, and he’s got unfinished business to wrap up.
We caught up with the man, the myth, the ling legend of Paul Rabil to find out what goals are left for his playing career, how he plans to bring the gold back to the USA, and what’s different between the last championships to now!
Interview with Paul Rabil
MD: A while back we talked to Kevin Leveille about his time with Team USA. He posed this question specifically for you, “Looking ahead to the 2018 Games and based on your 2014 and 2010 experiences, what is your approach personally and what will be the key(s) to reclaiming the Gold?”
PR: Losing was quite difficult in 2014. Yet with that loss, came meaningful growth for me — both personally and professionally.
Personally, I’ve gotten back to my roots of playing the game for fun. Enjoying every moment, and feeling grateful to play at a high level. Moreover, I’ve reinvested into relationships in the locker room and on the field.
Professionally, like any championship loss, it can encourage you to rework your routine, and think more critically about ways you can improve. Coach Danowski and his staff have done an excellent job creating a new culture, built on camaraderie, balance, vulnerability, and work ethic.
The 23-man group will be ready to go in Israel, and we’re super excited.
What about the team as a whole? Is there much difference in preparation and expectations heading into Israel next summer than Denver in 2014?
Our coaching staff started the ensuing 4-year process anew. We had a training team of 46 players that competed over the last 2 years, forging strong bonds, and ultimately having the back of the final 23 players set to play.
As far as expectation go, our goal of taking home a gold medal will never change.
Do you feel a great deal of internal and/or external pressure when representing the USA on any platform?
Of course. You’re on the biggest stage in lacrosse, representing your country, with the goal of winning.
That said, stuff like pre-game nerves, jitters, bubbles — however you prefer to dub it — is preferred. It means I’m ready — both physically and mentally.
Physically, we feel “nerves” because our body temperature is heating up under the roof of competition, our muscles are beginning to fire, and all of that excitement turns into bodily sensation.
Mentally, my body’s telling me this game is important to me. And with all the aforementioned, that’s a really awesome place to be.
You’ve been a backbone of Team USA for a while now. Who do you see coming through the pipeline that could carry the torch for years to come?
There are so many amazing players in the US. I’ve always thought if we could send 4 teams to the World Games, it would be anyone’s game to win. Only likely frontrunners. We play sports because scout teams, statistics, and the game’s best analysts can’t predict the outcome. Games are won and lost a million different ways. That’s why sports are great.
As you said, I’m just in the middle of my race — carrying the Team USA baton for as long as they’ll let me (note: there are 23 batons this year) — doing the best job I can, and hopefully leaving a positive mark on people in our sport; so that the next young players that I pass the baton off to, can take it even further.
We saw you compete last year indoors for Team USA in the Heritage Cup. What was you motivation behind getting back in the box and do you have plans to stick with it again?
I’ve always admired the play, leadership and tenacity of Coach Thorpe; so when he reached out to ask if I wanted to suit up, it was an easy yes. I love the indoor game. It’s fast-paced, physical, skillful, yet very different than field lacrosse.
The owners, coaches, and players of the NLL are all world-class. I’ve always said — and will continue to say — if we can get our pro leagues’ to work together, than we’ll have more full-time professional lacrosse players, playing in both leagues, and a better product on field and floor
Thanks for your time, Paul!