Stoney Creek’s Kiel Matisz is heading to the National Lacrosse League.
The 23-year-old six-foot-five, 220-pound forward was drafted third overall by the Minnesota Swarm in the 2012 NLL entry draft last Monday at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “It was the place I wanted to go to most and I’m really glad because they have such a great organization. I couldn’t he happier.”
Matisz has hit the indoor floor with the Major Series Lacrosse’s senior A Brooklin Redmen and Ontario Lacrosse Association’s junior A Burlington Chiefs, earning OLA top scorer, most valuable player and most outstanding graduating player acclaim along the way.
He also has played on the outdoor field with the Major League Lacrosse’s Ohio Machine and Robert Morris University Colonials.
Matisz picked up north eastern conference offensive player and conference player of the year honours with the Colonials in his last year.
He played for the Colonials for four years.
“Most people say, ‘You went to a small school. How do you feel about that? You should have gone to a bigger Division One school,’ But it was the perfect fit for me,” said Matisz, who graduated in May.
“I wanted to go to a school that was relatively close to home, the coaching staff really cared about me, the international office really cared about me and it was just an environment where you could see people care about you and cared about what you were doing. You don’t really see that at the big schools, so I don’t regret my experience and I think that helped me become who I am in a way.”
Matisz said his experience on the floor and field has helped prepare him for his run with the Minnesota Swarm.
“I think my biggest goal is to always win a team championship – those have come few and far between – so even though I’ve had a lot of individual success on all the teams that I’ve played for, I’m looking to have some team success and win that championship cup,” he said. “That’s what I really want to do now. I still obviously want to have individual goals in this league, but first priority is to win a team championship.”
Matisz first handled a lacrosse stick at the age of three.
His mother was looking to get him involved in a summer sport.
“The only thing that you could play at that age was lacrosse. My dad had a co-worker whose son was in lacrosse, so we went and watched him play,” Matisz said. “During the game, my dad just turned to me and said, ‘Hey, do you want to play?’ As a three-year-old, you’re not going to say no, so it was kind of a spur of the moment type of thing that turned out to be pretty life-changing.”
Matisz will attend training camp with the Minnesota Swarm in November and December, before officially making his debut with the team in January.
He said he’s looking forward to playing a role on the Swarm.
The team made it to the western conference finals last season.
“They’re already a pretty good team, so I’m just looking to squeeze on and contribute in any way I can,” Matisz said. “I probably know half the team already, which is just amazing – you don’t usually go into professional sports knowing half the team. I’ve been able to establish a lot of relationships already, so with that, I’m just looking forward to being with the guys.”
Matisz called the Minnesota Swarm a “great” organization.
“It’s full of a great bunch of people. It kind of reminds me a lot of my Robert Morris years, where you know the people just care about you,” he said. “The Minnesota Swarm was the first team that really started talking to me and they continued to do so through the whole process. I’m really glad and honoured to be part of the organization.”