In his first year in the National Lacrosse League San Diego Seals star Austin Staats led all NLL rookies in goals and points. Not bad considering he missed the last month of the season after tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament.
With numbers like that it comes as no surprise that Staats was named the NLL Rookie of the Year on Friday. But the 20-year-old phenom wanted to take home a different kind of hardware.
“It’s a pleasure but it’s not what I wanted,” said Staats. “I wanted a championship.”
With him they just might have won it. Staats was the Seals leading goal scorer when he got hurt and, even though the roster was stocked with veterans, they simply were not the same team afterwards. San Diego was on a five-game winning streak before Staats went down … then the Seals lost five of their last six games (including the playoffs) without him.
Not being able to help his team out is what has Staats attacking his rehab.“I have something to prove,” said Staats, who has been through this before. Four years ago, Austin tore that very same ACL. When that happens it’s hard to get back to full strength. There will be people doubting whether or not he can regain his form as one of the best players in the league.
He’s already using that as fuel.
“(People will think) Oh it’s his 2nd time doing it? I don’t think he can be as dominant as he was in that little 14-game glimpse we saw,” said Staats. “I want to come back and just destroy everything … try to get the MVP and a championship for the City of San Diego.”
He expects to be back within the first month of the 2019-20 regular season. So mark your calendars for somewhere in late November or early December because that’s when Austin Staats plans on laying waste to the rest of the National Lacrosse League.