Paul Rakoczy is in a nostalgic mood as he prepares for his last season on the team. As his team gears up for the Baggataway Cup National Championship in November, the defenceman and co-captain is looking to the past for inspiration.
“It’s bittersweet, for sure,’” Rakoczy said. “I love this lacrosse team. It’s something special.”
In his four years with the Redmen, Rakoczy helped the team win their first-ever CUFLA Championship in 2012 and reach two other finals. As this year’s squad takes aim at a pennant, his knowledge and experience will prove invaluable in boosting his teammates confidence.
“We’ve got 10 guys that were on that 2012 team,” Rakoczy explained. “[They] know what it takes to win, and I think that’s huge when it comes to showing some of the younger guys how to get there.”
The past two years, however, have seen the team twice come up short in the finals. In 2013, McGill was stunned at home 14-11 by the Guelph Gryphons. A year later, the Redmen—undefeated in the regular season—lost again to the Gryphons 15-12, despite scoring seven unanswered goals in a frantic final eight minutes.
These losses, while painful, are important to Rakoczy and the team as they plan the 2015 season.
“We know that we can score a lot of goals very quickly,” Rakoczy said. “In the coming games, we know we need to come out faster and harder earlier in the game as opposed to letting other teams get ahead.”
The team is currently undefeated, and has outscored opponents 85-31 through its first five games. On defence, Rakoczy and his teammates have not skipped a beat after leading the league in goals against average last season.
Rakoczy has seen both sides of a championship in his playing career: Glorious victory and crushing defeat. But beyond the final score, Rakoczy is passionate about the communities he’s a part of in Montreal. He chose McGill for it’s superior education, impressive campus, and the proximity to his home in Burlington, Ontario despite receiving multiple offers from NCAA Division 1 lacrosse schools in the U.S.
“Most Division 1 schools in the states could beat us,” Rakoczy, an Earth and Planetary Sciences major, acknowledged. “But McGill offers a nice balance for lacrosse where it doesn’t become a full-time job.”
Rakoczy has cherished his McGill education, highlighting his experiences doing fieldwork for his department in far-flung locations such as Arizona, California, and Peru. He finds his workload pretty manageable, though balancing his work with the team often leads to “late nights.”
Being a part of a National Championship team is definitely a perk of attending McGill compared to other schools, and after winning it all in 2012, there’s nothing that motivates Rakoczy more than the thought of sharing the taste of success with his teammates this season. Rakoczy is keeping his options open for after graduation, although he has no interest in going pro.
“I actually kind of want to open a brewery,” Rakoczy conceded with a laugh.
Career paths aside, when Rakoczy reflects on his four years at McGill, there’s no doubt he’ll have left behind an impressive legacy.
McGill Tribune (MT): Most used emoji?
Paul Rakoczy (PR): Sunglasses smiley.
(MT): Favorite ‘lax bro’ lingo?
(PR): ‘Savage’ is thrown around a lot on the team these days.
(MT): Latest Netflix-binge watch?
(PR): I just finished Narcos two days ago. Fan-tastic.
(MT): Favorite team to play an away game against?
(PR): Probably Bishops, because their crowd hates us.
(MT): Fundraiser Samosa or Dispatch toast?
(PR): Samosa, for sure.
(MT): Finish this sentence: Donald Trump’s hair looks most like ______?
(PR): A dust bunny.