CALGARY, AB — Growing up in Six Nations, ON, Vaughn Harris’ dream was always to play professional lacrosse.
On Sept. 26, Harris took the first step in that journey by putting his name in the National Lacrosse League Draft.
“When I first got there, I was with my parents, it was a childhood dream just to go to a draft,” explained Harris. “Putting your name into the draft and hearing my name get called to the Calgary Roughnecks was a dream come true, just like a lot of others there.”
He sat waiting, but not for too long, as the Calgary Roughnecks selected the young man in the second round, with their 15th overall selection.
He was on cloud nine.
On the evening of the draft, Harris was able to mingle with Roughnecks general manager Mike Board and head coach Curt Malawsky.
Amongst other conversation, they asked him what position he felt most comfortable playing, offence or defence.
“I told them that it doesn’t matter, wherever they need me to fit,” Harris stated. “I’ll play a role wherever they need me to play.
“I play hard and I do what my coaches tell me to do. If they want me to play offence or defence, I’m willing to do both. I can take face-offs. Win or lose on the draw, I can push the ball or I can pull the ball back and slow it down. If I do get beat, I have the ability to play defence and try to get the ball back for a fast break.”
A very versatile player, Harris has proven his ability to play on either end of the floor while playing for the Six Nations Chiefs of the Major Series Lacrosse League. This past summer, he netted 14 goals and 14 assists in 16 games, while adding another 12 points (5g, 7a) in the playoffs.
Harris believes that his experience playing with and against the best players in the world helped his draft stock and his game.
“Playing with older players and listening to them, they helped mold me into the player that I am today,” said Harris humbly. “Playing with the older guys made me more experienced, I believe.”
After claiming the MSL Championship, Harris helped the Chiefs take down the Western Champion Maple Ridge Burrards to claim the 2016 Mann Cup. That was his second Mann Cup in two years with the club.
Going into the Mann Cup, Harris and his team hadn’t heard much about the Burrards, but they were told they were a ‘bully team’.
Burrards head coach Rob Williams is also the Roughnecks defensive coach and Harris is excited to become a bully on the Riggers back-end.
“Oh yes – 100 percent,” laughed Harris. “Whatever gets the job done.”
Prior to his time with the Chiefs, Harris spent two years at Onondaga Community College, where he suited up alongside current Roughneck Tyson Bell. Together, they helped OCC claim the 2014 NJCAA Championship.
Tyson Bell isn’t the only Roughneck with ties to Harris, however.
The second round selection twice had the chance to play with Jeff Shattler. First in 2015 with the Six Nations Chiefs and second with Team Iroquois in the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship.
His third chance will come shortly at Roughnecks training camp.
With the goal of claiming a roster spot, Harris has been putting in work leading up to the beginning of camp.
“Strength and training so far. Conditioning, a lot of conditioning, so I don’t look too slow in training camp,” Harris said through a chuckle. “I’ve been on a diet, too, so I can be in the best shape for the season.
“I’ve been training hard.”
When training camp gets underway in November, Harris will make his first-ever trip to Calgary.
And he’s pumped for the trip.
“I can’t wait,” exclaimed Harris. “I’m excited to come down and visit, see the sights, and start a new chapter in my life with the Calgary Roughnecks.”