One could not script an ending any better for one of the Georgia Swarm’s longest tenured players. After nine years in the National Lacrosse League, defenseman Mitch Belisle today announced his retirement. The 32-year-old spent the last five years of his career proudly wearing blue and yellow and became a fan-favorite with his energetic and aggressive defense on the floor.
Nicknamed Mr. Luxurious, Belisle was one of the steadying veteran presences on the defensive end for the 2017 season. His abilities and leadership helped the young Swarm defense become one of the strongest units in the NLL, while his skills and smarts propelled the Swarm to its and his first-ever Champion’s Cup.
“Ultimately, I think I’ve been lucky to have a great career, play on some great teams, and had amazing experiences,” Belisle said. “I really feel with winning a championship with this team, it would be hard to envision it getting any better than that. I’m excited to spend more time with my family, and with a young son, be able to spend more time with him this winter. But I’m going out healthy and on my own terms after winning the Champion’s Cup, which was a major goal of mine.”
“We will miss Mitch’s leadership and professionalism along with his tremendous work ethic,” Swarm Owner and General Manager John Arlotta said. “He was a great player for the Swarm over his 82 regular season games and eight postseason appearances, and of course this year he helped lead us to a Champion’s Cup. These are all fantastic accomplishments, but what I will remember most about Mitch is the standard he set for what great character means both on and off the field. For me, this is just as important as any of his statistics over the last seven years and his Championship performance in 2017. We will miss him, and we wish him the best of everything during his retirement from the NLL.”
Belisle’s final NLL season saw him finish with three points (2G, 1A), the game-winning goal against the Calgary Roughnecks on March 17, 34 loose balls, and five turnovers in 16 regular season games. In four postseason games, Belisle scooped up 10 loose balls and helped stifle opposing defenses as Georgia swept the Rock and Rush. Achieving his goal of winning a Champion’s Cup was made all the more special to Belisle because of the men who took the floor with him.
“It was the most fun group I’ve been a part of in a really long time,” Belisle said. “Guys just cared about each other and cared about the team and put the team first, and that’s what made us great. That’s what I’ll miss the most by far, this group of guys and the atmosphere, that special chemistry.
The Swarm selected Belisle in the second round (No. 13 overall) of the dispersal draft of the Boston Blazers on Sept. 9, 2011. The Severna Park, Md., native spent the last five years of his career as a mainstay in blue and yellow on the defensive end, enjoying the fan and team support.
“We were treated like first class professionals, and I think that’s what ultimately allowed the team to go out and be able to recruit such a great group of guys,” Belisle said. “The character piece is such an important piece to the Arlottas, and I think it’s part of what made that team so special this past year.”
In 82 regular season games with the Swarm, Belisle recorded 26 points (6G, 20A), collected 279 loose balls, and caused 52 turnovers. He played in eight postseason games for the team and collected 29 loose balls while causing two turnovers.
In his sophomore NLL season, Belisle joined the Boston Blazers for their inaugural season and spent three years with the team. In 48 games, he finished with 18 points (7G, 11A), 275 loose balls (a career-high 104 in 2009), and 14 caused turnovers in 2011. Boston played in three postseason games during Belisle’s tenure, and he recorded three assists, 21 loose balls, and one caused turnover.
Belisle’s NLL career began when he was selected No. 13 overall in the first round of the 2007 Draft by the New York Titans. The Cornell University alum played 12 games in 2008. He finished with two goals – one a shorty – and two assists with 48 loose balls. In two postseason games, Belisle posted two assists and scooped up nine loose balls.
Swarm team captain Jordan MacIntosh recalled how fortunate he has been to play with Belisle. MacIntosh joined the Swarm as a rookie at the same time that Belisle joined the team seven years ago, and the two became good friends, helping lead the Swarm to its first-ever Champion’s Cup and pushing the Arlotta philosophy of “Character wins championships.”
“From a friendship point of view, I’m going to miss him a lot. From a defensive point of view, I’m going to miss his leadership on the floor,” MacIntosh said. “He’s a very vocal guy, he’s great with our younger guys, and I think that’s going to be the biggest piece we miss with him, and it’s going to be hard to replace. We’re going to miss him and wish him all the best in retirement.”
“Mitch provided excellent leadership on and off the floor,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “He led by example and showed the young players how hard you have to work to play and then stay in the league. We congratulate Mitch on his long and successful career.”
“I want to thank the Swarm organization, the Swarm fans, both in Minnesota and in Georgia, and all the teammates I’ve played with between the Swarm, the Boston Blazers and the New York Titans,” Belisle said. “I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have the experiences I’ve had. I’m going to miss the adventures the NLL brought every weekend in the winter.”
Belisle retires having played in 142 regular season games. The defenseman finished his NLL career with 48 points (15G, 33A), 602 loose balls, and 66 caused turnovers. In 13 career postseason games, Belisle has one Champion’s Cup, five assists, 59 loose balls, and three caused turnovers.
Single-Game Tickets and Season Tickets for the upcoming Swarm season are On Sale Now! With the purchase of four (4) Season Tickets, fans will receive a replica Swarm Championship Ring. Season Ticket Packages include 10 games and a handful of VIP benefits. Call 844-4-GASWARM to purchase your tickets and help the Swarm “Defend the Cup!”