Arguably the best part of the whole set-up is free digs in his old room at Guido and Shannon Cattoni’s house out in Heritage Pointe.
“You mean bunking with my parents?’’ laughed Holden Cattoni. “Who knows? They might start charging me rent now …
“No, no, they would never do that.
“If we got paid like the NHL players do, I’m sure they would.”
The can’t-miss script was there, only needing to be signed off on.
A Calgary kid. A ballboy down at the Saddledome during those turn-of-the-century, formative days of the Roughnecks and the NLL in Calgary. Among the elite prospects there for the picking at the 2016 National Lacrosse League draft.
Well, on the floor at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (TRAC) in Oakville, Ontario on Monday night, the ‘Necks did not disappoint, parlaying the fifth overall pick to add local, in the way of the Cattoni.
“What can I say?’’ said Cattoni “ It’s a huge thrill, to be able to play for the Roughnecks, the team I grew up watching, cheering for, idolizing.
“I can’t wait for camp to begin but there’s a lot off work to be done before then.
“I honestly think I bring a lot of speed and skill. I’ve always been someone who’s been around the net, with a knack for scoring goals.
“Someone who can help take some of the pressure off the more established players.
“That’s something I think I bring to the table and talking with Mr. Board and Coach (Curt) Malawsky and that’s what they expect.
“I need to get that mindset that they’re not going to keep me out of the lineup and I’ve got to push to be better.”
The tie that took Cattoni into the world of the Roughnecks initially was a long-standing hockey friendship with Ray Banister, son of then-Roughnecks’ owner Brad.
“I would’ve been around 10 years old. Just a lad. And now, here I am, 22 and drafted by the Roughnecks. I’m pretty sure Brad was the one who suggested I give it a try.
“I was really close with Tracey Kelusky and Kaleb Toth, too.
“It’s what kids love to do, right? Get close to your heroes, the guys you love to watch, you emulate. That’s how it started out with me. And those guys … two of the greatest Roughnecks of them all time.
“I live with Tracey in the summer time now, playing for Peterborough.
“Two of the greatest Roughnecks of all time and I’m fortunate enough to call them both friends.”
Roughnecks’ GM Mike Board, a respected newspaperman from a bygone era, served up the easy story. Bless him.
“He’s big, fast, can score and he can play with men,’’ said Board of Cattoni. “He’s going to be a good player in this league.
“Obviously we liked him a lot. Everyone did.
“He’s gone the college route, played in Peterborough with a bunch of stars … Shawn Evans, John Grant … so he learned from those guys. He spent a lot of time with John Grant and Tracey Kelusky, obviously, who’s been a great mentor to him.
“We talked a lot with Tracey about him, he knows Holden as well as anyone and had a lot of good things to say about him.”
The form chart, at least in the early stages Monday, played out according to plan.
“I think overall the draft went the way a lot of people thought it would go,’’ chimed in Cattoni. “Obviously there could be trades, you might get passed over, you have no idea what’s going to happen until your name is called.
“I did expect to go to the Roughnecks but I wasn’t absolutely sure what was going to happen ahead of me.
“But I couldn’t be happier.”
No different than any other red-blooded Canadian kid growing up, Cattoni was a hockey nut, playing until he reached bantam triple A level.
“I honestly just started playing lacrosse in order to keep in shape for hockey. But as I got older I saw the opportunities that lacrosse offered.
“It got my collegiate schooling paid for to play lacrosse, which was a great experience. Obviously some of my best friends, best memories, are down at school.
“The sport has given me a lot.”
The lacrosse-hockey combination has a rich history of course. Wayne Gretzky took up the sport as a moppet. Joe Niewuendyk and Gary Roberts, too. Among others.
“They’re similar sports. They’re played in the same arena, for starters. You take the patience from lacrosse and implement it in hockey, you take the hands the awareness part of hockey and put it in lacrosse.
“They both feed off each other, supplement each other, well. Especially if you play similar roles in both, which I did.”
As Cattoni mentioned, lacrosse prowess netted him a full scholarship at prestigious John’s Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he majored in Public Health Studies with a minor in Health Policy Management.
With their second selection Monday, 15th overall, the ‘Necks selected Vaughn Harris of First Nations, Ontario.
“I’m so excited,’’ says Harris. “I just wanted to get picked by a team so I could show them my abilities on the lacrosse floor. This is what I’ve worked for my whole life, for this opportunity.”
“Just a solid, solid guy,’’ critiqued Board. “Can play up front, in offence, on defence, can take draws. A real versatile guy. We were a little surprise he was still available at 15.
“Overall, we’re very happy. Filled out our needs. We wanted to build our left side, help out our D, fill in some other spots.
“So I think we covered all our bases.”
When ‘Necks’ camp opens, however, most eyes will doubtless be glued on the local product.
Being the hometown kid trying to make good doesn’t faze Cattoni.
“Honestly, I think my parents understand that pressure, feel what it’s like, but it doesn’t bother me in the least,’’ he reasoned.
“I’m obvious to whatever other people say. I’m just focussed on what I need to do, how I can be better.
“I block out the external noise.”
The noise over in Heritage Pointe could probably be heard for blocks around 5:20 p.m. local time on Monday.
The story that wrote itself came true.
So, go on.
“It couldn’t have worked out any better,” murmured Cattoni. “I just moved back home from school, just graduated.
“So thanks to the Roughnecks. This is the one place I’ve always wanted to play. The one team I’ve always wanted to play for.
“I got what I wanted.”
So did they.