Recognizing, as a Saskatchewan Rush fan, liking Curtis Dickson as a lacrosse player might be seen as blasphemous by some, but I can’t help it.
Dickson, widely known in the sport as ‘Superman’ for highlight reel goals where he flies over the crease area to tuck the ball in the far side, is simply too good not to appreciate, even as he patrols the floor for the rival Calgary Roughnecks.
Dickson, love or despise him as a player, is one of the sport’s most successful players with a bevy of personal awards and team accomplishments on his resume.
In 2011, he was named the National Lacrosse League Rookie of the Year, and in the years since has won a gold and silver medal as a member of Team Canada on the field stage, two golds on Team Canada in box lacrosse, and then last spring added an NLL crown with the Roughnecks.
Dickson has also played the pro field game in both the Major Lacrosse League with Denver and New York, and in 2019 was a member of Chaos in the fledgling Premier Lacrosse League.
So when I had the chance to interview Dickson recently via telephone, as a fan of his, and of the sport, I was more than a little thrilled.
So what among his accomplishments stands out for the Port Coquitlam born Dickson who honed his lacrosse skills in the Western Lacrosse Association and BC Junior A Lacrosse Leagues, on teams such as the New Westminster Salmonbellies and the Maple Ridge Burrards?
Dickson was quick to point to the recent NLL win.
“That was pretty special, my first NLL championship,” he said, adding it came about with the Roughnecks finding their game at just the right time. “The run we went on at the end of the year was pretty special.”
Dickson said the championship came in his ninth season, at a point he was starting to wonder “if I was ever going win one.” To get the first chance to hoist the championship trophy was “a relief,” he said.
That said Dickson said it’s hard not to pick the successes with Team Canada, especially the most recent box golds at the tourney in 2019 in B.C.
“The chance to play for Team Canada in front of family and friends and for your country,” said Dickson was simply an opportunity not a lot of players have.
Playing at the World Field Championships brings a different perspective of lacrosse. Held in Israel the event brought teams together from 46 countries. While the gold medal winning Americans, Canada who ended up with Silver and the Iroquois Nation with the bronzes were the class of the event by a fair margin it showed the growing popularity of the sport on a worldwide basis, offered Dickson.
“It was so cool to see all the other nations,” he said, adding he hopes one day the skill levels of other countries rival that of the big three. “You hope for things to be a little more balanced.”
For Dickson the field game is still number two for him, having grown up with the box game, although he took his skills outside to attend college where he would be a two-time All-American lacrosse player at University of Delaware from 2007 to 2010. While at Delaware, Dickson was a key contributor to Delaware’s only Final Four team, as well as the captain of the 2010 NCAA Tournament Blue Hens team.
Dickson said the box game “is a little more demanding physically” as the tighter quarters mean it is rare to attempt a pass, or a shot without a body draped over you, or a stick slash to the arms.
In field though, stamina becomes a greater factor with the larger field.
As for moving from one to the other, Dickson said it’s a matter of adapting, noting more field-first players are starting to show up in the NLL, and he has found success doing the other, noting if he can hit the target on a four-by-four indoor net with a player hounding him, the six-by-six net of field is one he should hit.
Of course I had to ask him about the Rush and its fan base, rivalled only by a few teams including Roughneck fans.
“It’s a lot of fun going to play in that barn in Saskatchewan,” he said, adding that was especially true in 2019, as Calgary finally managed a win.
Hopefully, Dickson and the Roughnecks will be back in ‘Rushville” for the 2020-21 season.