The NLL is facing unprecedented times due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. While we have a break in the action, Bandits.com chatted with defenseman Matt Spanger to talk about Banditland, what he’s binging on Netflix and more.
Bandits.com: When did you start playing lacrosse?
Matt Spanger: I started playing when I was four or five years old, but I didn’t get very serious about it until I was 13 or 14.
Bandits.com: Why did you start playing lacrosse?
MS: Lacrosse was a big part of the community I grew up in (Toronto Beaches). I think that’s a big reason why I started playing when I was younger.
Bandits.com: What player did you look up to most growing up?
MS: Growing up in Toronto, I always looked up to Jim Veltman, the Rock’s captain. I loved that he was a jack of all trades and always worked hard (as you can see from his loose ball count).
Bandits.com: Have you always played defense?
MS: Growing up I played a little bit of both, but moving into Jr. A was when I specialized in playing defense/transition. I even played a similar role in field lacrosse, often playing as a long stick midfielder.
Bandits.com: Did you play any other sports growing up?
MS: I played a bit of everything growing up. I played hockey competitively, but also played football and basketball in high school.
Bandits.com: What was your reaction when you were traded to the Bandits?
MS: Obviously, it is a shock getting news that you have been traded, but when I heard I was coming to Buffalo, I was very excited. It’s a known fact that Banditland has the best atmosphere with an extremely loyal and encouraging fanbase. I could not wait to start with the Bandits and, so far, it has exceeded my expectations.
Bandits.com: How would you describe yourself as a player?
MS: Tough and smart on defense, but I also like to push the ball in transition and create offense.
Bandits.com: What is the culture with the Bandits and in Buffalo like?
MS: Our team is very close-knit and is much like a second family, which has made it even more difficult not seeing everyone every week. The team loves spending time together on and off the floor. The culture in Buffalo, like I had mentioned before, is unlike anywhere else. The fans create the best atmosphere to play in and are with us every step of the way. Even when playing in games across the country, we always have fans at the games and that shows how special our fanbase is.
Bandits.com: How would you describe the atmosphere in Banditland?
Bandits.com: What is your favorite memory from Banditland?
MS: Our playoff run last year was amazing. Although it did not end the way we wanted, it was some of the most fun I have ever had playing lacrosse and it was evident that our team was special. Also, seeing how the fanbase bought into our “party” was unlike anything I’ve been a part of before.
Bandits.com: What does being a Bandit mean to you?
MS: Being a part of this team the last two years has been something special. I love putting the jersey on and playing for everyone in Banditland. Being a Bandit is a proud part of my identity.
Bandits.com: What is the best part of being a Bandit?
MS: Playing in front of the best fans in the league. The fans make the games that much more special and I’m grateful for each time I get to play in front of them.
Bandits.com: What are the challenges of being away from the team?
MS: Like I mentioned before, our team is like a second family. It’s tough not seeing the guys each week but we have been keeping in contact through social media, group chats and team video chats. We all miss lacrosse and battling with each other but hopefully we can be back soon!
Bandits.com: What are you most looking forward to when it comes to reuniting with the team?
MS: Aside from actually playing lacrosse together, I am looking forward to spending time with the team and the jokes and chirps that are constantly thrown around. It’s always good fun, whether it’s in the dressing room or on road trips.
Bandits.com: Are you binging anything good right now?
MS: Since the new season of Ozark came out, I am currently re-watching the first two seasons before watching the third.
Bandits.com: Have you picked up any new hobbies during the quarantine?
MS: No new hobbies, but I have been trying to read more. I have finished a few self-improvement books and am currently working on “Scar Tissue” by Anthony Kiedis, the lead singer of Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’m open to some new suggestions!
Bandits: Have you taught yourself anything new during the period of social distancing?
MS: I wouldn’t say it’s something new, but I have been finding creative ways to get effective workouts in at home; it’s always fun and challenging.
Bandits.com: What music have you been listening to?
MS: Currently, I have a shared Spotify playlist with some friends to get through quarantine. It’s kind of a mix of genres but it is a great way to keep connected with friends. One album that I have been listening to is “After Hours” by The Weeknd.