Most siblings who play in the same professional sports league will be lucky if they play on the same team once, exceptionally lucky if they play together twice.
Consider Paul and Dan über lucky.
With Paul’s trade to San Diego on March 6th, this marks the fourth – yes, fourth – time these brothers have played together in the NLL over a 12-year span.
“It truly is exciting,” said Dan, the elder brother by four years. “18 years in this league and I’m in my last couple years here. I couldn’t be more thankful for this opportunity.”
Paul echoed nearly the same words. “It’s always exciting. We’re pretty close. It never will get old.”
Paul and Dan, or the Dawson brothers as they are known back home in Oakville, Ontario, first played together with the Boston Blazers in the franchise’s inaugural season in 2009. Then there was the brief stint with the Wings in 2012, and then with the Knighthawks in Rochester where they both were integral parts of championship teams in 2013 and 2014.
While Paul continued to play with Rochester, Dan was traded to Saskatchewan before signing as a free-agent with the expansion Seals (7-4) last offseason, who, barring a devastating late season collapse are all but guaranteed a playoff spot.
Growing up, the Dawson brothers did mostly everything together that you would think sports-crazed brothers would do. There were basketball and hockey games in the driveway. Football games in the backyard. Wrestling in the living room. Paul – as the younger brother most of the time does – served as the crash test dummy for wrestling.
“We played the odd video game – I can’t say we didn’t – but we were outside the majority of the time. We both loved all sports,” said Dan.
Oddly, the two never played lacrosse growing up. That is, until Dan, 11 years old at the time, saw one of his friends with a lacrosse stick. Dan started playing and Paul followed. Eventually, lacrosse became the sport, with Paul in goal and Dan as the shooter (Paul started his NLL career as a goalie).
“God bless our parents because they weren’t over-bearing,” said Paul. “They just let us play. It never got too serious but they loved watching.”
Because of the four-year age gap, the two never played on the same team growing up and played opposite each other one year in senior A box lacrosse, Dan with the Brampton Excelsiors and Paul with the Burlington Chiefs.
The only two people who are more excited than the brothers playing together is their parents, Joe and Julie, and Joe’s second wife, Monique.
Flying across the country to see them play could be a burden at times, especially when both were on the west coast, Dan with Arizona and Portland, and Paul with San Jose.
“It wasn’t uncommon for my Dad (Joe) to fly to San Jose on Friday night, catch my brothers game and then fly to Phoenix on Saturday to catch my game, all while working in the Toronto police department,” said Dan.
Of course, the travel was easier for the parents when their sons played in Philadelphia, Boston and Rochester. But where they are playing is irrelevant to Joe. As long as they are on the same team, he gets to watch both of his boys play together, just as they did when they were growing up.
“I don’t mind where they play,” said Joe, who retired from the force last year. “I’m happy they are back together. In fact, I like them playing in San Diego because the coaching staff is all gentlemen that they played with. They understand what Paul and Dan can do even though the boys are in their 30’s.”
The brothers live five minutes apart from each other in the same area they grew up in. They both practice together, either in a gym the two built in Dan’s garage or at Fieldhouse Athletics in Burlington.
“We shoot together, I look after his kids, walk his dog,” said Dan. “This is the first year where it’s been like, you’re a stranger and life gets in the way (because of Dan playing in San Diego).”
Now, they’re back on the same team. Again. And on a first-place team that looks as good as any team to make a run in the NLL playoffs.