It isn’t the most high profile job on the team, but Ian Poole does it and he does it well.
Taking face-offs, pressuring the ball and playing defence may not get the glory — that usually goes to the offensive stars who fill the opposition’s net — but the Langley Thunder coaching staff know they have a real gem in Poole.
“He is a quiet guy who doesn’t want a pat on the back,” said Thunder coach Rod Jensen.
“He just wants to work his butt off.”
But the 30-year-old Poole, in his fifth season with Langley, has gotten more than a pat on the back: he was awarded the Western Lacrosse Association’s unsung hero award on Aug. 8.
For Poole, the award just means he is filling his role.
“It shows that hard work pays off, it doesn’t get missed by people,” he said. “It does make you feel proud.”
After playing his minor lacrosse in North Delta, Poole played junior with New Westminster. And it was with the Junior Salmonbellies where he concentrated on the defensive aspect of the game.
“It would be nice getting five goals, but I am happy with my role,” he explained.
“(But) as long as I am contributing and working hard, I am definitely happy with the success and with my role.
“And I like my role: I get to hit people.”
For his career, Poole has 10 goals and 48 points in 61 games.
And while those numbers don’t jump out to the casual observer, it is the other things he does that get him noticed.
“He is an incredible face-off guy, probably the best I have ever seen since Geoff Snider,” Jensen said.
Poole only began taking draws on a regular basis three seasons ago, and in all three years, he led Langley, including in 2012 — his best year yet — when he led the WLA by winning 174 of the 297 face-offs he took, a .586 winning percentage.
Those numbers are even better in the post-season, as Poole has won 31 of 46 draws, .674 per cent.
“Winning those face-offs gets us so many more possessions and that can either break momentum or keep it going after a goal,” Jensen said.
He is also an excellent defender.
“A lot of times on defence, it might look like he is beat, but when the opponent throws the ball, he sticks his stick out and steals it.
“He is a great worker with great hands.”
The work ethic comes from being the youngest of four siblings, all of whom were athletic.
“I was always trying to be as good as my older siblings,” Poole said. “And my dad had a hard work ethic and I just accepted that.”
As for his success, Poole said it is a product of hard work.
“I take what I do seriously,” he said.
“I am always analyzing the game and figuring things out, how I can get better and correct things.
“I work hard and concentrate and try and push myself.”
Jensen, who has a long history coaching the game at various levels, is shocked Poole is not playing at the professional level.
“The guys is relentless; he brings too much to the table not be (in the pro game).
“He is a phenomenal defender.”