National Lacross League player and former Newmarket Redbirds star Ryan Lee is living the dream.
After helping lead his Colorado Mammoth team to a championship, Lee has had a joyous off-season to celebrate.
But now, he is getting his chance to bring the Champion’s Cup to Newmarket, where he first began playing the game.
“It’s an exciting time, something you always dream of as a kid, to hoist that trophy,” he said, adding that Newmarket is “where it all started. To be able to bring that final goal of the career, to bring the cup back, it’s kind of exciting.”
Lee, who grew up in Sharon, is holding a celebration with the cup at The George Brew House and Eatery at 2 p.m. tomorrow, Oct. 22. Family and friends will gather to celebrate the achievement, all are welcome.
It came with some adversity. The 28-year-old forward was injured in the league's semifinals, which meant his team had to carry on without their leading scorer, led by cup MVP goaltender Dillon Ward.
“We had so many ups and downs with injuries. I just think (it's) the resilience between our team and our core group of guys,” he said of why the team had success. “We just stuck together.”
It was also a successful individual season for Lee. He was named to the NLL’s all-league second team, finishing second in league scoring during the regular season with 119 points. His point total was the fourth-highest ever recorded in league history.
“To be able to improve year after year, and get to where I am now, I’m really happy with it, and hopefully, I keep going up.”
Newmarket Redbirds vice-president Ken Hamilton recalled coaching Lee as the player made his way through the organization.
“Lee has always had an exceptional talent playing lacrosse,” Hamilton said. “He always pushed himself. He’s always been able to try to get better every year, and he tries to compete at the highest level possible.”
Having a former player have that much success brings excitement to the local sport, Hamilton said.
“It brings the excitement back into the organization, into players, into parents. It’s the ultimate in the lacrosse world.”
With most of his team returning next season, Lee said he has a positive outlook for games starting back up in December.
“To make it happen again, we’re just going to push hard this season.”