As a part of our weekly blog series, we got in touch with professional lacrosse player, Craig Bunker. Bunker, who is a mid-fielder for the Boston Cannons, was All-American at Colby College. During his time at Colby, he ranked fourth in the country in face-off percentage and had 123 groundballs to go along with one goal. He finished his college career with a .659 face-off percentage, 412 groundballs, seven goals, and eight assists in 61 games. Below, you can find our Q&A with him.
Question: When did you begin playing lacrosse? What influenced you to pick up the sport?
Answer: I first played lacrosse in 4th grade because my neighbor had mentioned he had signed up. I was always a football player, so I remember thinking it would be an easy transition for me, especially the physical side of the game.
Q: What did it feel like to be the only player in Colby history to win first team All-American?
A: The AA distinction was an incredible honor and something I am very proud of. At Colby, I had immense support from my teammates and coaches who pushed me to be the best lacrosse player I could be. I truly believe that my teammates and coaches at Colby, along with my parents, are the sole reason I earned the AA honor three times, and in particular, First Team honors as a senior.
Q: What do you do in the off-season, how do you prepare for the next season at hand?
A: My off-season training starts in the weight room. Growing up, my dad changed careers and became a strength and conditioning coach. I was fortunate to work there in the summer, and with my fathers guidance, I was able to develop the technique, work ethic, and diet to make gains in the weight room. With that said, I work hard to take care of my body through weight training as well as speed training. Living in a city, the speed training is harder, but still necessary. When I lived in Boston, I would connect with other top college or MLL face off guys to take live reps. I work technique on my own multiple times a week, but nothing really compares to live reps against great competition.
Q: What’s your favorite move?
A: My favorite move is the clamp. I don't have a fancy style by any means, and I look to use my explosiveness, with my hands and feet, to win the clamp.
Q: Do you have any pre-game superstitions?
A: If I had a great game the prior week, I sometimes try to emulate the activities I did or even wear the same clothes. It's actually stupid when I think about it, but if I believe it will help my performance and the teams chance of winning, then I'll do it.
Q: What’s your pregame ritual?
A: Before games, I try to imagine different scenarios that I may encounter at the X. I even imagine myself executing perfect technique. I'm a believer that the mental side of athletic performance is just as important as the physical side, so I try to clear my mind and imagine success on the field.
Q: What type of music do you listen to before a game? What’s your favorite pump-up song?
A: I don't listen to music any more before games because of the hectic nature of game day, so I typically listen to what ever is playing on the team speakers. I do appreciate motivation speeches, particularly from Ray Lewis.
Q: After a big win, how do you and your teammates celebrate?
A: We celebrate wins by being together. In the MLL, we don't have a lot of time together as a team. However, when each teammate truly cares about each guy in the locker room and success on the field was achieved through hard work, all you want to do is enjoy that moment with your brothers.
Q: Looking back on your entire career, what has been your number one moment on the field?
A: In highschool, my team beat our rival North Andover--that was a big moment! It was the first time that our program beat them. However, it's important to note that their stud athelte and my current teammate, Jim Connolly, had already graduated.In college, my number one moment would be beating both Bates and Bowdoin during senior year to claim the CBB championship. It's essentially bragging rights for the three NESCAC schools located in Maine. In the MLL, I played for Rochester my first season. During opening weekend, the Cannons beat us handily 15-3. Five weeks later, the Cannons came to Rochester, and we beat them in a torrential down pour in OT. I also scored my first MLL goal during that game!
Q: Lastly, what advice would you give to younger kids who are just starting to get on the field?
A: Fall in love with the game. The truly successful athletes in high school, college, and the MLL are incredibly passionate about the sport. Some may call them lax rats, but I see it as true dedication. If you can eat, sleep, and breathe lacrosse, and put the work in to be successful, then your career is limitless. With that said, play other sports, every MLL player was very good at multiple sports in high school. Also, bust your butt in the classroom because at the end of the day, lacrosse doesn't pay all of the bill, but your mind will.
Stay tuned for next week's "Featured Athlete"!