They say big guys move slow but don’t tell that to Tyson Roe.
The hulking defender and newest member of the Calgary Roughnecks points to his speed and his ability to run the floor as his most lethal and perhaps most unpredictable assets.
“I’m very fast. I like to run the ball up the floor,” Roe said after the Roughnecks made him their 16th overall selection at the 2014 NLL Draft. “I like to use my speed to my advantage.
“I think that’s probably the reason why I went higher than most people thought I would.”
At 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds, Roe is the biggest player drafted in Roughnecks history. Calgary general manager, Mike Board, thinks Roe could be a good fit with the Roughnecks.
“Tyson is big, athletic and strong,” Board said. “He works hard all over the floor and is very committed to continuing to improve his game.”
Roe’s size and speed was also noticed by the coaching staff at Concordia University Wisconsin. He spent two years playing midfield in their field program where he tallied 20 goals in his freshman year and another nine is his sophomore year.
“In my second year there I was midfield and I asked my coach if I could play defence and he wouldn’t let me because I was good at just running in a straight line and no one would really be able to stop me,” Roe chuckled. “He just had me do that and I guess he was fine with me just playing offence.
“I’ve never played defence in field lacrosse before.”
Roe also suited up with the Nanaimo Timberman of the Western Lacrosse Association this summer, his first full season of Senior ‘A’ ball, and was used primarily on defence. The Timberman relied heavily on Roe to run the ball up the floor, a role the Duncan, B.C. native enjoyed.
“With Nanaimo it’s kind of offence-defence only. The [defence] are the guys who run the ball up the floor every time and I’m one of those players,” Roe said proudly. “I don’t score a lot obviously because I’m in the [defensive] end most of the time but I do run the ball up.”
Just a few weeks away from his 22nd birthday, Roe was relieved and a bit surprised to hear his name called by the Roughnecks at Toronto Rock Athletic Centre on Monday.
“I came in, was super nervous and I had no idea where I was going to go,” Roe said. “I was just waiting for my name to be called and am happy to be with a great organization like Calgary.”
Fortunately for Roe, he has a couple of ties to the Roughnecks.
“Our Goalie for our Junior A Nanaimo team, he got drafted by Calgary last year — Pete Dubinski — I’m excited to hopefully be playing with him again,” he said. “My coach for Nanaimo, Kaleb Toth had huge success there so hopefully I can be a big part of it too.”
Roe, two inches shy of seven feet, also grew up playing basketball and hockey but gave both sports up at the end of high school to pursue his first love — lacrosse — which he was introduced to by his father at the age of five.
“My dad just kind of came to me one day and said ‘hey, you want to play Lacrosse?’ I asked him what that was and he said ‘you got a stick, you got a ball and you can hit people’,” Roe recalled. “He took me to my first tryout and I fell in love [with the game] ever since.”
There’s no question the Roughnecks can use Roe’s size. The league continues to get bigger and stronger and with offensive players like Edmonton Rush’s 6-foot-5 Mark Matthews, you can bet Roe’s intimidating presence will come in handy.
Riggers bench boss Curt Malawsky likes what he brings to the table.
“At 6-10, 250-pounds, that’s something you can’t teach,” Malawsky said. “Tyson is a very good athlete for a big man and will eat up a lot of space in the middle of the defensive zone.”
Calgary is anchored by some key defenders, but it’s not inconceivable to think Roe could make a push for a roster spot this December.
“To be honest I don’t know what they have for [defensive] guys right now,” he admitted. “I don’t know their current situation but it’s definitely been on my mind to make the team this year.”
He’s also willing to do whatever it takes and play any role that is asked of him.
“Going in I just want to fit in wherever they want me to and hopefully I can be part of the system.”