Scott Ranger had to decide between continuing his lacrosse career in the NLL or stepping back to focus on his family.
The choice was obvious.
The 31-year-old veteran, who spent eight seasons suiting up for the Calgary Roughnecks, retired from the game he loves after ten productive years in professional lacrosse.
“I’ve got two young kids now and my oldest is going to be four pretty soon,” Ranger said. “She’s starting to figure out daddy leaves all weekend and it’s just too hard to leave them every weekend.
“It’s fun to see the boys but I’m a family guy too and my kids are number one.”
To say Ranger’s career in Calgary was productive is an understatement. In fact, he was the model of consistency and was a staple on the right side of the floor in his eight-year tenure with the Roughnecks.
The Nanaimo, BC product amassed 176 goals, and 417 points in 127 games during in his NLL career. All but nine games were with the Roughnecks. He is 6th in all-time franchise points behind only Kaleb Toth, Tracey Kelusky, Lewis Ratcliff, Jeff Shattler and Dane Dobbie.
That is elite company, to be sure.
He scored at least 19 goals in each of his eight seasons in Calgary with the exception of last season when he played in just nine games due to work commitments.
In addition to his offensive prowess, Ranger quickly became a leader in the locker room and was a big part of the Roughnecks success over the years.
“Scott spent eight of his 10 seasons in the NLL wearing a Roughneck uniform,” Calgary general manager Mike Board said. “His contributions offensively on the floor and in the dressing room as a leader are not easily replaced.”
Board is well aware of the challenges players face being employed in the NLL.
“The NLL is a unique league and sometimes it’s very tough to play because of work and family commitments,” the Riggers GM said. “Such is the case with Scott who now has a teaching career and a terrific young family keeping him very busy on Vancouver Island.
There is no doubt that given different circumstances Ranger could have — and would have — made this work. Very few players can make the NLL work as a full-time gig, most players need to supplement their income and often seek out full-time careers outside of lacrosse.
“You don’t make enough money to make it a full-time job,” Ranger said. “You make enough to do the job but it’s hard when you have a family that’s established in a city outside of where you’re playing, you have to travel every weekend.
“It doesn’t get any easier as you get older. We came to a decision that it’s time.”
Ranger, who teaches mostly Physical Education and Math from kindergarten to grade twelve, struggled with the travel and trying juggle his schedule and family was difficult. The travel was also compounded by several injuries and being a diabetic, which got more difficult as time went on.
“I’ve had a couple of pretty significant injuries in the last couple of years with a broken jaw, a knee injury and a shoulder injury and being diabetic,” he said. “The travel is what kills you the most. Leaving the family and the travel with being a diabetic is definitely the hardest thing.”
Despite all of the on-floor success Ranger experienced, the lacrosse accolades aren’t what he will miss the most.
“The dressing room is what I am really going to miss,” Ranger admitted. “All the boys and getting to hang out each weekend … the close friendships you make over the years.
“You spend a lot of time with those guys when you’re a guy that flies home [every weekend].”
The locker room won’t be the only thing he will miss, though.
“I’m going to miss the fans. When they call your name out and the fans get up and make some noise for you — it’s an unreal feeling,” Ranger said. “It’s going to be hard to watch my buddies play but I know they’re in good hands and I’m happy for everybody that is going to continue to play.”
Of Ranger’s fondest memories, winning the Champion’s Cup in 2009 is right at the top of the list but he also points to Calgary as the place where he really got his career going.
“Definitely [winning] the cup [in 2009] and just having the opportunity to play,” Ranger recalled. “I was in San Jose and I didn’t get to play all that much and [Chris Hall] gave me the opportunity to play — that was the big thing for me.
“I hoped I contributed enough to stay there each year, and I did enough to have that. Between the Cup and just having the opportunity to play in Calgary. Those were the two big ones.”
Current Roughnecks coach Curt Malawasky had a big influence on both the start of his career — as a teammate — and later on as his coach.
“Curt Malawsky was always a mentor and a good friend of mine and I looked up to him with great respect as a lacrosse player and as a human being,” Ranger said. “When I was in San Jose, he was there and he taught me a lot in the short time I was there with him and that’s something I’ll never be able to repay.
“I was very fortunate to play with Curt and play for him. He’s probably one of the smartest lacrosse guys I’ve ever met and definitely he’s had the most influence on me in terms of lacrosse.”
For now, Ranger is stepping away as a player but he would like to be involved in the game of lacrosse in one capacity or another in the future.
“This sport has given me a lot and I’d like to give back,” he said. “Hopefully I can be part of the Roughnecks in whatever aspect I can be.
“After I’m done playing lacrosse altogether hopefully I can give back. I’ve got a young daughter and a young son that hopefully one day will play lacrosse and I’ll give back to them too.”