While most people are winding down late at night after a long day of work, Buffalo Bandits goaltender Matt Vinc can be found in his basement getting in a quick workout or video session to prepare for an upcoming game.
The routine has become normal for Vinc, who is a full-time physical education teacher and boys lacrosse coach at Denis Morris Catholic High School in St. Catharines, Ontario and full-time parent to a 3-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter when he is not playing on the lacrosse field.
“It’s pretty chaotic,” Vinc recently told Bandits.com. “Like today, I had a full day of teaching, just got off of the field as a high school lacrosse coach, and now I’m coming home to two young kids and going to various sports and activities.
“It is pretty challenging, but I think my free time is usually focused on family and whatever is left over, like preparing for an upcoming lacrosse game.”
The 40-year-old veteran admits his routine isn’t as rigid as it was early in his career, but that a structured week is important to him when getting ready for a Bandits game.
“I think it’s more like a pre-week ritual,” Vinc said with a laugh. “Now, I just have a typical routine. Usually, Monday nights are the same, Tuesdays. I like to keep that type of game plan for the course of the week. Watching film on a certain day or having a certain type of workout the day before practice, something like that.”
The weekly routine serves as a checklist for the eight-time NLL Goaltender of the Year, who believes performance isn’t necessarily about how a player arrives to the arena on a game day, but how one approaches the week leading up to it.
This is just one of the lessons Vinc shares with his students and athletes who dream of playing sports at the next level.
His main advice, which he hopes to instill in his own children in addition to his players, is to always be the hardest working person.
“I think if people can be the hardest working player away from the game through workouts, practices, and then when they approach the game, have the mentality to switch and play with confidence, I think that’s going to allow someone to have success in the game,” Vinc said.
No goaltender has stood between the pipes more than Vno!
Another record for the great 4️⃣8️⃣. pic.twitter.com/B97VCNRYJF
— Buffalo Bandits (@NLLBandits) March 3, 2023
Vinc has had the unique opportunity to see multiple lacrosse players leave Denis Morris and compete against him in the league. One former student, Latrell Harris, currently plays for the Toronto Rock, who the Bandits will meet up with for the third time this season on April 22.
“It’s pretty weird and challenging,” Vinc said. “But also, you’re proud. You’re a proud coach or teacher to see people be successful.
“It’s a funny thing when you can kind of see people grow in the game. Obviously, you’re proud when they actually make it because you know that they’ve reached their dream, as well.”
As he continues his 17th season in the league, Vinc has three championships under his belt and his name engraved in the record books.
While Vinc sits atop the all-time stats list for goalie minutes played, saves, and wins, he stresses that none of it would have been possible without the support from his friends and family.
“I think that’s a big reason why I’m still playing is my daughter and son enjoy coming to Banditland and having the same type of experiences that I had as a little kid, as a fan in Buffalo,” Vinc said.
“Just seeing them and being able to see them after the game. Whether it’s a win or a loss, they’re excited to be able to come to the game.”
For Vinc, having the opportunity to play for the team he grew up cheering for with his biggest supporters in the stands provides a feeling like no other.
“It gives you goosebumps,” Vinc emphasized. “It’s that extra shot of adrenaline when I’m able to run out into Banditland. Obviously, it’s an electric environment, but then when you’re able to look up and see faces that mean so much to you, cheering for you, it’s such a big part of my game.
“You’re not able to live this type of lifestyle without the support of friends and family. I’m pretty lucky and thankful to have them by my side. I always say that I’ve never made a save in the league without them. They’re a big part of my game and it means the world to look up and see them smiling.”
That feeling keeps Vinc motivated when things get tough and helps him remain competitive and successful at the highest level. Only one thing could make that feeling better: bringing a championship home to Buffalo.
“I think that’s my focus. I just want another chance to raise a trophy over my head and win a championship in Buffalo,” Vinc said. “That’s kind of been my main focus and motivating factor this year. I want to win in Buffalo. I want to win in front of my family and friends.”
For the 8th time in the last 12 seasons, Matt Vinc is your Goaltender of the Year 🐐
➖ Led the NLL in wins (14), saves (747) & save % (.807)
➖ Led the Bandits to the best overall record in the regular season at 14-4
➖ 130th regular season W (no other player has 110) pic.twitter.com/ZJiHxTGcKr
— NLL (@NLL) June 29, 2022
When his playing career inevitably comes to an end, Vinc hopes to continue coaching and stay involved in the NLL.
“I’m probably going to drive my wife crazy,” Vinc chuckled. “I’m a coach at the high school level, so hopefully that could maybe translate to something at the minor level or in the league.
“I feel like I have a lot to offer after being around so many great coaches in my career. I think that is something that would be a passion of mine to, hopefully, coach and still be a part of the game in some capacity.”