Schreiber back in business for the Toronto Rock
When Tom Schreiber made his season debut for the Toronto Rock during Saturday night’s 16-14 loss to the Buffalo Bandits, his coaches and teammates as well as the 8,586 fans on hand at First Ontario Centre in Hamilton were extremely excited to see him back on the field.
And so was his almost two-year-old daughter Lilly, who was watching on television at home.
“It’s cool because she’s old enough to understand that’s me,” said Schreiber, who was back in action after being placed on the injured list on November 27th with a lower-body injury and missing the first five games of the season.
“I obviously don’t get to witness it but my wife says that she’ll notice it’s me out there which is pretty incredible.”
Schreiber’s return was a sight for sore eyes for the entire Toronto Rock organization. Despite the loss, having one of their best players back from injury is important to the 5-1 Rock who have their sights set on competing for the NLL championship. While suffering their first loss of the season was a tough pill to swallow, the season is a marathon and having number 26 back on the floor is more than just a silver lining in a loss.
It wasn’t a storybook return, but it was an important return.
“You want to win, especially when the team is undefeated and you come back and you lose right away, but it felt good (to be back),” said Schreiber. “Lacrosse is my life. I love being a pro lacrosse player and when you’re unable to do it, it’s tough. To be able to come back, to be able to get back out there, make some early mistakes and kind of get back into the flow as the game went on, it felt really good.”
Schreiber had been dealing with the nagging injury since last NLL season and it continued through the summer Premier Lacrosse League season. Once this year’s Rock training camp came around, Schreiber gave it a go but came to a joint decision with the coaching staff that it was best for him to shut it down for a while, get some rest and go through rehab to be able to get back to 100 per cent.
But while sitting out was the best way to get healthy, it wasn’t easy.
“It’s tough watching the games from afar,” said the 31-year-old Schreiber. “It’s tough watching on TV for some of them. It’s tough watching from the stands in others. But, to get back out there is a great first step and I’m very excited.”
Schreiber did have a six-point night in his return, scoring two goals and dishing out four assists. There were some mistakes along the way like a misplayed loose ball of the boards that led to a Buffalo goal, but as the game progressed, “Captain America” started to get more comfortable.
“Eventually I felt like I settled in and didn’t really have to think about it,” said Schreiber, the East Meadow, Long Island native who starred for St. Anthony’s High School and Princeton University.
“I wish I had it from minute one but realistically, I’m pretty pleased with the ramp up and I feel good going forward.”
It became evident that the rest and rehab was the right way to go as the injury needed to be taken care off for the long haul.
“When you play year round, it’s just tough to find those opportunities and it’s not ideal but I think it was time,” said Schreiber. “I didn’t have any setbacks and didn’t feel uncomfortable or unstable or tentative which was great. I think now that I’ve been able to get my confidence back to where it normally is, I feel pretty good going forward.”
While it is tough for a professional athlete to adjust to not being able to play, sometimes there is a silver lining. In Schreiber’s case, starting the season on the injured list didn’t just give him a chance to rest and rehab, it also allowed him to spend more time with his family.
And from the “timing is everything category,” Tom and his wife Kathleen welcomed their second child to the world when their son Patrick was born on December 21st.
In a very special way, the time off came at the right time.
“That’s the bright side,” said Schreiber. “I certainly didn’t plan it to be that way but that’s kind of how it shook out.”
Now that Schreiber has made his long-awaited return, the focus is now on continuing to progress and help his team win games. The Rock shored up their roster a bit during the off-season so Schreiber will continue to familiarize himself with some new teammates, including Mark Matthews, Chris Boushy and Dan Lintner.
It’s a process that started during training camp but will now have to ramp up as the regular season continues with Saturday night’s game in Calgary.
“I feel really good about our roster on the floor and off the floor,” said Schreiber. “It’s a different style of offense and I think that the ball is going to continue to move around a lot as we get more and more comfortable and it’s fun.
“Mark is as accomplished as anyone in the history of the NLL with his ability to feed and his ability to get to the goal. Boushy is just a guy who is going to go out there and fight every single shift. (Lintner) never stops moving. He’s physical, he can finish, he lays out and he puts it all out there for his teammates.”
It was only one game, but it was a moment that Schreiber had been waiting on since November. Getting back on the field after missing so much time because of his injury was a huge step forward for the one of the greatest lacrosse players in the world.
And he’s just getting started.
“One game in and I’m excited about our potential,” said Schreiber. “I think we’re only going to get more and more comfortable together, so I’m excited.”
And so is the entire Toronto Rock organization as well as their fans.