Nov 28, 2017

OSU players.jpg(November 28, 2017)… The roster is not the only thing that the Rochester Knighthawks bolstered through the National Lacrosse League Entry Draft. Just four days after naming Jake Withers, Austin Shanks and Eric Fannell to the active roster, the Knighthawks named the three first-round picks to the team’s lacrosse academy staff.

“I’m really excited to add these three guys to the academy staff,” said Knighthawks Academy Director Brad Gillies. “They come from a really strong program at Ohio State and I know they’ll be a big asset for us. As our box program continues to grow, they will help with the product we can give the Rochester youth.”

The former Buckeyes, who will coach the Jr. Knighthawks teams, join the program at a key time of the year. The Jr. Knighthawks will hold tryouts for their PeeWee (5th/6th grade), Bantam (7th/8th) and Midget (9th/10th) teams on Monday, Dec. 18 at Turf Time in Pittsford and on Saturday, Dec. 23 at Connors & Ferris Field at The Blue Cross Arena.

From Withers, the kids will learn from one of the top faceoff men in Division I and Major Series Lacrosse. At Ohio State, he ranked fourth in the NCAA and first in the Big Ten in faceoff winning percentage (.647) in 2017. This summer, the Peterborough, Ontario native recorded a .779 faceoff winning percentage en route to a Mann Cup title. Rochester selected Withers second overall in this year’s draft.

“It’s always nice to be a part of a community, especially the Rochester one that has deep roots in box lacrosse,” said Withers. “It’s exciting to be able to help grow the game and develop the box game south of the border. It’s a tremendous opportunity and I am looking forward to it.”

Shanks, who was picked fifth overall, was an offensive juggernaut at OSU, finishing second in the nation with nine man-up goals in 2017. The Whitby, Ontario native also posted 15 goals and four assists during his senior campaign. In two seasons with the Buckeyes, he collected 83 goals and 40 assists in 60 games. After wrapping up the season, Shanks joined the Brooklin Redmen and recorded career highs in goals (23) and points (47). 

During his rookie season, Shanks will begin the next phase of his lacrosse career as he moves to Rochester and coaches the Jr. Knighthawks.

“I’m definitely looking forward to working with the Jr. Knighthawks to help them grow their program,” he said. “It wasn't too long ago I was in their shoes. Being where I am today and remembering all the great coaches and volunteers that helped my game, it feels good to give back in a positive way.”

Fannell will also teach the Jr. Knighthawks about the offensive side of the game. The sixth overall pick led Ohio State in assists (30) and points (66) in 2017, while finishing second in goals (36). In his past two seasons in the MSL, the St. Catharines, Ontario native scored 12 goals and added 16 assists in 15 games with the Oakville Rock. 

“I am looking forward to helping the Rochester youth learn the game of lacrosse and realize why it’s the greatest game on earth,” he said.

Fannell and his two former Ohio State teammates will begin instructing the junior teams in early December as they start preparing for a pair of tournaments. The Jr. Knighthawks will host their first ever Upstate Winter Shootout on Saturday, Feb. 3 and Sunday, Feb. 4. The teams will then compete in the USBOXLA-sanctioned Midwest Classic from Saturday, Feb. 17 through Sunday, Feb. 18 at the Resolute Athletic Complex in Columbus, Ohio. 

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