CALGARY, AB — Is the proverbial ‘Sophomore Slump’ a real thing?
The second-year Riggers don’t seem to think so.
“I don’t really believe in that,” said forward Wesley Berg.
“I just don’t think about it, I just play. If you can play well the first year, you can play well the rest of the years.”
Berg already experienced a sophomore season at the senior level, as he played his second Major Series Lacrosse league season this past summer.
In his second go-round with the Oakville Rock, the right-hander led the league in goals scored with 32 and finished in the top 10 in points (50).
Maybe his theory is right.
Defenceman Tyson Bell has a similar mindset; out of sight, out of mind.
“I just try not to think of it,” Bell said. “Even last year as a rookie, I knew I had a role to play. I just go out there, play my game, and bring it all to the table.”
Ditto for Kellen LeClair.
He believes that the hard work and experience he got over the summer have helped make him a better player and will allow him to take the next step in the NLL.
“I’ve been working hard all off-season. I’m prepared, I’m confident,” admitted LeClair. “I played with the Chiefs in the summer and played with a lot of good players. I just want to earn a consistent spot in the line-up every week and help the team to the best of my ability.”
LeClair spent most of the summer playing with the Chiefs Junior A team, but when they failed to reach the Minto Cup, he was called up to the Senior A squad.
He didn’t see the floor too often, but after a loss to the Maple Ridge Burrards in Game 2 of the Mann Cup, he was given the opportunity to play.
And he didn’t relinquish his spot.
LeClair played in the final three games of the series and helped the Chiefs wrap up a Mann Cup title.
He’s hoping to carry that winning mentality and confidence forward to the 2017 Roughnecks season, where he can avoid the sophomore slump.
The final second-year player on the Riggers roster is 19-year old netminder Christian Del Bianco.
When questioned about a sophomore slump, he laughed and answered, “I don’t think there’s much to follow up.”
As a rookie, he appeared in only one game, for a total of 19 seconds, where he faced zero shots.
So it’s a fair answer.
With that said, he understands that with a more definite role on the team, the expectation from himself and the team has risen.
He is planning to work hard and bring his best effort all the time.
“I think just focusing on the process and not the outcome,” Del Bianco said. “Show up to practice every day and work as hard as you can.”