#45 Jason Noble | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
Georgia Swarm assistant captain Jason Noble recorded an impressive 2017 season for the NLL Champions. In his fourth year with the Swarm, Noble ended the regular season with one goal and four assists, gathered 57 loose balls and caused 11 turnovers. In the postseason, he collected 17 loose balls, caused two turnovers and recorded an assist. Noble’s hard work paid off as he was named to the 2017 NLL All-Pro First Team and awarded Defensive Player of the Year. The veteran transition player, coming in at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, is known for pressing players sizeably larger than him and “plays much bigger than what his physical stature is” according to Swarm head coach Ed Comeau.
Q: Over the four seasons you’ve been with Georgia, how have you grown as a player?
Noble: I think as a player growing I’ve been a lot more comfortable over the years, and then turning I guess from just a role player into more of a leader within the team. The first year or two you always need to get accustomed to the league, to players in the league, and I guess do your time in the league as well before you can actually step up and make huge contributions.
So I think the first couple years it was learning from guys who were ahead of me, and then over the past two years I’ve been actually helping our team grow because if you look up and down our roster, every year we’ve had a core group of guys returning and also a core group of new players on the team that either we traded for or we’ve acquired in the draft. So I think over the last couple of years it’s been more of a leadership role as teaching the new guys the right way to do stuff and the way we do stuff at the Swarm.
Q: What have you learned from teammates over the years?
Noble: Definitely just growing as a teammate. I mean, every team is different. You get different types of leaders on each team, so some are more vocal, some are more by action, so everyone you come across is different. So even with me, when I first joined right away I was rooming with Jordan MacIntosh, who is now the captain. He was the assistant captain at that time, so I think it was his third year in the league at that point for my first year. He was really instrumental helping me get used to just the travel process, getting ready for games, the mentality going into games, and then just the way to do the right stuff on the floor. So someone like him is really instrumental.
And then you get guys like Jordan Hall and Mike Poulin who have been in the league for many years, and they come to our team this year and they have a different viewpoint than say what just the Swarm is. And they bring all their years of expertise. Jordan Hall is a great teammate for us and so is Mike Poulin, just the energy they bring and the passion for the game and just caring about the team is unreal. You learn a lot of stuff just watching them and observing how they interact with the team.
Q: After winning the Cup, how did it feel to have all that hard work pay off?
Noble: Yeah, it is an unreal feeling. I think every player’s dream is — once they get into the NLL — is to win a National Championship. Having that in my fourth year, some players go their whole career not winning one. So being able to actually feel that sense of accomplishment last year was unreal. This year, everyone on our team had a different mentality and the mentality that if we were going to do something, it would be this year. So having all the work pay off in the end is really rewarding. I mean, even if we didn’t win, I think all the effort we put in would still be worth it, but winning is definitely just like icing on the cake.
Q: What made this team so special?
Noble: I think we were a close-knit group, just from day one. Even last year, we had a heartbreak in the quarterfinals to New England in overtime, so I think after that year that left a bitter taste in our mouth and we knew we were right there. And then over the offseason and the draft and then we picked up a few players just in preseason, so I think with those additions, we didn’t lose much from our team. We just grew even stronger. I think everyone knew we were right there, and it was just actually executing and putting the work in which we did. And we knew if we did put the work in that great things would happen.
Q: You received the Defensive Player of the Year award. What did it take to accomplish this award?
Noble: I think with the Defensive Player of the Year it’s part individual but also part as a team. If we were a team that finished last I don’t think I would’ve got the recognition that I did at the end of the year. So having a team defense who’s able to help do so, I mean, a lot of my award is our team defense. It’s not just me out there defending the team. There’s five guys and a goalie every single shot, so having a good system in place and having teammates that you can rely on that help you elevate your game is really key. I think that’s a lot of the issue is we had a great team defense and everyone helped elevate each others’ game on the floor.
Q: Defensively, what did you guys pride yourselves in?
Noble: I think it was just our work ethic and hustle. I mean every single shift we went out there, stuck to our system, we didn’t have too many highs or lows, we knew that teams go on runs and we couldn’t I guess get away from our system, we had to stay composed. So I think being consistent, especially through the last half of the season and going into playoffs, was key for us. We had a few new additions on defense, some young guys. We talked about from day one the learning period needs to be quick, we need to be able to pick up the system and be able to play with each other midway through the year and carry that through the rest of the year. We did a good job of sticking to our system, relying on our teammates, and also pushing the ball in transition and being threats.
I think on our team, we don’t have stay-at-home defenders all on the floor. In the defensive end, we have guys that can go up, play offense, guys that can push the ball and also guys who like to stay back and be our rock solid guys in the backend. We had a good combination of players in the defensive end to really help utilize that to help our defense.
Photo Credit: Zach Fletcher
Q: How would you describe your game?
Noble: I like to think of myself as more of a pest out there so always on their gloves, always battling, and not really going away. I’m not the biggest guy on the floor so I have to make up for that somehow. It’s always sort of being there, using my speed to my advantage, and just being a good team player. Even if I’m not in the play, helping lead out on the floor so I can just be a presence in the back end even if I’m not physically covering the ball, always being that help for our teammates as well.
Q: Have you been taking time to soak it all in and enjoy the off season?
Noble: Yeah, I mean you always have to enjoy winning after putting I guess about six months in every single weekend almost, you still have to take some time off and enjoy it but you also have to realize that most of us keep playing lacrosse in the summer and in the summer leagues.
Over the past couple weeks, Jordan MacIntosh had a bachelor party in Mexico, so a couple of us from the team went on that. And then our teammate, Ethan O’Connor, just got married in Florida last weekend, so I know there were five of us there that went to that. It’s still sort of fun every time we do meet up with teammates. We enjoy talking about that, and it’s still sort of a reunion for us in a short time frame where we like to be around each other. I mean after that first weekend after winning, I know like our group chat was just exploding, wishing we were playing again with each other, but I mean we did what we had to do so we’re just still enjoying it.
Q: Has playing this summer helped you prep for the 2018 season or is it a different process?
Noble: Yeah it definitely has. I mean you always like to have a stick in your hand, so I guess with playing summer, it’s basically right after the NLL season, we get right into it, and it starts to die down I guess in August and September for most guys. So there’s always that two month period after August and September where you’re not playing lacrosse as much, but you’re also having to put the work in. You’re going to the gym, having a stick in your hands in your own time to get ready. Because I mean you can’t just not do anything for three months and show up at training camp and hoping to be better than you were last year. Every week you’re trying to get better to help the team.
You’re always putting the work in to hopefully earn your spot on the team next year because there’s no guarantee that you will be on the team. So everyone’s sort of fighting every single day, and I think that two months leading up to it, the focus is more on staying healthy, getting in the best shape possible, going into camp so that when you do start the season you’re not worrying about your conditioning or stick skills, for example.
Q: What is one thing you are most looking forward to about next season with the Swarm?
Noble: I think it’s just being back with the guys. One thing we talked about this year is we enjoy going away every weekend to wherever we’re playing and just being with our team. There’s no weekends where it was, "Oh, I have to go play lacrosse this weekend." It was real excitement, and I think we really enjoyed being around each other. So I think that first weekend of training camp this year for 2018 will be good to just see everyone’s faces again that you may not see just because you live all over the country. So I think that’s what I’m looking forward to for this season.
Q: What would a young Jason Noble say about where you are today?
Noble: I honestly did not think this would happen at all. Growing up in grade school and then high school, I sort of had a feeling in high school I wanted to play. But I mean having a dream and actually making it happen is two totally different things. When I was younger, I obviously dreamed of doing this, but I knew that you had to put the work in. I guess I just put my head down, worked as hard as I could and looking back at it today, I’m glad I did and glad I didn’t give up on anything or just say, "Oh, it’s hard and I’m just going to stop." I’m grateful for everything that’s happened, and I don’t think I’d change a thing.
Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
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