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Dec 26, 2016

(December 26, 2016)… In just three days, the Rochester Knighthawks will open their 2017 season against the Toronto Rock. Knighthawks players Brad Gillies, Dan Lomas and Dan Dawson, however, started their Opening Night preparations a couple of days early.

On Monday morning, the trio of Knighthawks hit the turf at Brighton Sports Zone for a three-hour session. The professional lacrosse players were joined by 50 kids from around the Rochester area at the first day of the Knighthawks Winter Lacrosse Camp.

The campers received world-class instruction from two-time National Lacrosse League champion and former league MVP Dan Dawson, second-year pro and RIT standout Brad Gillies, and former college All-American and Knighthawks rookie Dan Lomas. Gillies, who organized the camp, was excited to have Dawson out at Brighton Sports Zone for the second straight season.

“Anytime you can get Dawson out here to these camps is awesome,” he said. “He is one of the best in the business with the kids. It shows right away (how much he cares) by the way he teaches these kids. It was great to have Dan (Lomas) down here and he did a great job as well. It was a well-structured day.”

The players, ranging in ages from 6 to 16, were split up by age and ran through three stations. They worked with the pros on perfecting their ground ball work, shooting, dodging, passing and catching. Dawson laid out the plan for the two-game camp by emphasizing three important points: respect the game, respect your yourself and your teammates, and have fun.

“The game has been very good to me and anytime I have the opportunity to work with young lacrosse players, I am all for it,” said Dawson, who is entering his 16th season in the NLL. “For us as an organization, we need to do more of this. You can see these kids are thirsty for knowledge and the sport is definitely growing. We have to do our part to make sure they get the right instruction and coaching to help facilitate the growth of the sport.”

Dawson, who is in his fifth season with Rochester, understands the roots of the game and the important role the Knighthawks play in the local lacrosse community.

“It’s our job to help grow the sports at the youth level and give these guys an opportunity to aspire to be a Knighthawk,” said Dawson. “There’s been a lot of Rochester guys who have put on this uniform and I want to make sure that holds true for years to come.”

For Lomas, who was a second-round pick in September, the camp provided an introduction to some of the team’s younger fans.

“It was awesome. It was good to see the young kids and the passion they have for the game,” he said. “To see Dan pass along the knowledge he has from all the years he has spent playing the game was pretty special.”

Dawson, Gillies and Lomas are back at Brighton Sports Zone on Tuesday from 9:00 a.m. to noon for the second and final day of the Knighthawks Winter Camp. Two days later, the kids will watch their idols as the Knighthawks return to Connors & Ferris Field at The Blue Cross Arena to kick off their 23rd NLL season.

“It really gets you in the lacrosse mindset,” said Gillies. “Being able to come out here was a great start to the week.”

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