Saturday, May 5th, 2017
If anything, years of watching The Sound of Music with my sister taught me that it’s always best to “start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.”
Nobody was expecting this.
It was the eve of the 2017 NLL Playoffs- the Colorado Mammoth were out west to take on Vancouver in a one game West Division Semi-Final. As a group, the team gathered in one of the conference rooms at the Sandman Hotel to hand out their yearly team awards. Everyone was in high spirits after some powerful speeches and pep talks as they prepared for the events 24 hours away.
Last to speak was Steve Govett, who at the time was the President, Governor and General Manager of the Mammoth, and had been since the franchise relocated to the Mile High City. Never one to hold back his thoughts and feelings, there was a surge of energy in his voice as he armed his troops for battle but there was more to his message and the magnitude would be stunning.
As someone who generally knows what is about to happen in the overall landscape of the NLL, I can say that what Govett was about to announce took everyone by surprise.
The NLL was heading back to Southern California and Govett had been empowered by Joe Tsai to lead the charge into creating a new Western powerhouse both on and off the floor. Jaws dropped, tears rolled down cheeks, long heartfelt embraces were had. You see, the majority of that Mammoth roster was drafted under Govett’s watch and they all had strong ties to the man who helped them into the NLL. More so, he was instrumental in helping the NLL cross the Rockies with sold-out arenas and one of the best fan experiences the game has ever seen.
Three Mammoth players in that Langley conference room would find themselves reunited with Govett over the next couple of years and from the jump Zack Greer, Cam Holding and Jeremy Noble knew San Diego was lucky to have him.
Greer hadn’t been part of the organization long but the team and the culture Govett had built were two key reasons he wanted to join the Mammoth. It was “incredibly powerful to hear Steve talk about his time with the Mammoth where the organization started to where it is now. It was obvious that it meant the world to him and that this new opportunity was a big one for him to be willing to take that step.”
He would sign with the Seals in year two having watched what the organization did in year one. “Obviously, I followed along closely given my brother was coaching there, the Dawsons were playing, etc. I even brought the family out to a game. I think the way Joe and Steve are approaching the sport and how they conduct business inside of it is really changing the course. It’s fun to be a small part of a bigger vision.”
Originally drafted by Edmonton back in 2010, Cam Holding had played every game of his NLL career for Govett and the Mammoth until the Seals took him in the expansion draft. At the time, he knew his GM wasn’t going in without a plan. “While disappointed to hear he was leaving the amazing franchise he built in Colorado, we all knew that he was going to continue growing the game and that leaving Denver meant he had an incredible opportunity that he couldn’t pass up.”
Jeremy Noble was acquired in a trade from the Rochester Knighthawks in 2015 and was a fan favorite in Denver from the start. The fans loved ‘the Little Duder’ as much as they loved Govett and what both had done for lacrosse in the city. “You could see the passion and vision he had when he spoke about what he was going to be building in San Diego. I couldn’t help but be excited for him and the future of the National Lacrosse League.”
Just one year later, Noble would be traded to the Seals and reunited with his former GM, “when I joined the organization, I couldn’t have been more excited. Steve does everything first class and that is exactly what he was building and running in San Diego”
But of course, the Mammoth still had a playoff game to play and as hard as Corey Small and the Stealth tried to ruin the fun, Colorado would go on to win that playoff game 14-13, advancing to the West Finals where they would be swept in two games by the Rush. So, while it wasn’t the ending that he had hoped for, Govett now had his eyes focused on a new western expansion and starting again… from the very beginning.