The NLL is facing unprecedented times due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. While we have a break in the action, Bandits.com chatted with forward Garrett Billings to talk about why he decided to sign with the Bandits, why he can’t wait to get back to Banditland and more.
Bandits.com: When did you start playing lacrosse?
Garrett Billings: I started playing when I was 5 years old in Langley, British Columbia.
Bandits.com: Why did you start playing lacrosse?
Billings: I have three brothers who played lacrosse; I think it was a given that I would play as well.
Bandits.com: Who has been your greatest influence in the game?
Billings: Growing up competing with two older brothers is the best advantage a young athlete can have. My brothers helped me a lot.
Bandits.com: What player did you look up to most growing up?
Billings: I was a big Colin Doyle fan.
Bandits.com: What was the first team you played on?
Billings: Langley Warriors minor lacrosse.
Bandits.com: Have you always been a forward?
Billings: No, but I haven’t played much defense since I was about 15 years old.
Bandits.com: Did any of your childhood teammates go on to play professional lacrosse?
Billings: My good friend Brad Richardson played a couple years for the Colorado Mammoth and Vancouver Stealth.
Bandits.com: Did you play any other sports growing up?
Billings: I played hockey all winter and lacrosse in the summer. It was awesome!
Bandits.com: If you weren’t playing professional lacrosse, what other sport would you want to play professionally?
Billings: Either hockey or golf.
Bandits.com: Did you watch the NLL at all growing up?
Billings: The Toronto Rock were the only NLL team that was on TV in Canada at the time. It was eye-opening to see lacrosse draw huge crowds.
Bandits.com: What memories do you have as a young fan?
Billings: The Vancouver Ravens came onto the scene when I was about 16. We went to all the games and it was a treat to watch the world’s best lacrosse players play live.
Bandits.com: Why did you decide to attend the University of Virginia?
Billings: I was extremely lucky to be recruited by the University of Virginia. It would have been the biggest mistake of my life to squander that opportunity.
Bandits.com: How did your time at the University of Virginia prepare you for the NLL?
Billings: I was forced to improve my ability to carry the ball playing at UVA. If you can’t handle the pressure of a long pole chasing you around the field then you will turn the ball over a lot. I was much more prepared for the NLL because of that.
Bandits.com: How would you describe the type of player you are?
Billings: Earlier in my career I was an outside shooter/point guard type player. With so much talent on the Bandits, my role is to help in any way I can.
Bandits.com: What made you decide to sign with the Bandits?
Billings: There were a few reasons I wanted to play for the Bandits. The team is so talented at both ends of the floor, I knew we could be very dangerous. I’ve lost to Matt Vinc enough times to know that he can steal games and he gives any team he’s on a shot at a championship. I have a great relationship with GM Steve Dietrich and scout Rob Buchan, so that made the decision easy.
Bandits.com: What is it like playing for John Tavares?
Billings: He’s very level-headed and keeps things black and white.
Bandits.com: How would you describe the culture with the Bandits and in Buffalo?
Billings: Aside from a couple of us older guys, the locker room is a bunch of young guys in the prime of their careers having a blast doing their thing. It’s fun to be a part of.
Bandits.com: What kind of teammate are you?
Billings: I try to stay calm and positive.
Bandits.com: What is the best part of being a Bandit?
Billings: The fans.
Bandits.com: How would you describe Bandits fans?
Billings: Their energy is contagious. It’s electric when we get on a goal-scoring run. I know from playing against Buffalo that it’s very hard to stop the momentum created from that atmosphere.
Bandits.com: What does being a Bandit mean to you?
Billings: I love the history of the Bandits. It would be unreal to add another championship to that history.
Bandits.com: What’s the best memory of your NLL career so far?
Billings: Winning the championship in 2011 with the Toronto Rock.
Bandits.com: What are you watching or reading right now?
Billings: I read and listen to the news way too much.
Bandits.com: What’s your go-to quarantine snack?
Billings: I drink coffee to fight the boredom.
Bandits.com: Have you been cooking a lot?
Billings: My wife has us hand-making pasta a couple times a week.
Bandits.com: Have you taught yourself any new skills during the quarantine?
Billings: No, but we taught our kids how to ride a bike.
Bandits.com: What are the challenges of being away from the game right now?
Billings: The unknown is the worst part of it. It’s hard to prepare for a season or playoffs that are so up in the air.
Bandits.com: What are you most looking forward to when it comes to reuniting with the team?
Billings: We had a lot of injuries right before the break that really decimated our team. If we can return fully healthy, it’d be exciting to see what we could accomplish.