Swarm forward Jesse King recently sat down with GeorgiaSwarm.com to discuss life on the sidelines this season as he continue to rehab an ACL injury that he sustained this past summer. During his rookie season in 2016, King ranked third on the team with 77 points (22G, 55A), collected 83 loose balls, and caused nine turnovers in 17 games. He finished as the runner-up to fellow teammate Randy Staats in the NLL's Rookie of the Year voting, and was named an All-Rookie Team member. King, who recently signed a multi-year deal with Epoch Lacrosse, also speaks about growing up in a lacrosse family and the future of the sport.
Q: On February 16th, you signed a multi-year deal with Epoch Lacrosse. How has this enhanced your drive to get back to the game?
JK: The biggest thing for me was the fact that Epoch was willing to take a chance on me while I am injured. Even without the sponsorship deal from Epoch, the injury has made me have the drive to come back as soon as I can. They have given me an opportunity that I am thankful for that.
Q: With having a title like “top lefty forward in the 2015 NLL Draft”, what do you have to do to keep up with the progressing skill of the game?
JK: A lot of it for me is watching the game and watching how the Swarm play. As of right now, I do not get to travel with the team to away games, but I am watching anytime they play. When I am free, I try to have my stick in my hand. Keeping the stick in my hand is important. With being injured, I have picked up my stick more since my injury than when I was playing games. I have grown with my stick skills and my focus for coming back.
Q: What roles do you play for the team in the Swarm locker room?
JK: Right now, in the locker room, I am the music guy. I currently have the playlist for the games. It is a big thing for me because it gives me a part on the team. Other than that, I am not a big hype guy for the guys on the team. Watching the games in the stands has changed me as I cannot help but make some noise when our guys are doing well.
Q: With your brother being a lacrosse player, what was the competition like between you two growing up?
JK: Well my brother is five years younger than me. For me it was always trying to show that I was the one in charge. Now he is taller than me and finding himself as a player. I have seen him go from wearing the same number as me to now finding his own number. He looks up to me and I have a massive amount of respect and look up to him as well.
Q: With it being early in your pro career, how have you helped the rookies become accustomed to the life of a professional athlete?
JK: I think that the rookies are fortunate that they do not live out west. When I was a rookie, I would travel about 10 hours to the arena on home game weekends. Most of the guys now have about a 3-hour flight to Atlanta. My role is to keep them positive and make them feel welcome with the Georgia Swarm.
Q: How has moving to Atlanta made your relationship with the team better?
JK: I think it is great living with Randy, Shayne, and Liam here in Atlanta. I was Randy’s roommate last season so we got to know each other fairly well over time. I get to be around these guys every day and I think that it is very important. It is still tough when I drop them off at the airport for the trips to other cities and I go back home and clean the house.
Q: What is a personal goal for you this season?
JK: I would like to be prepared and come back even better than before. Having this full season off makes you forget what it is like to be in shape for the season. People with this type of injury think that they will hop right back to where they were but that isn’t the case. I want to come back fully healed and healthy. I want to see the guys be successful and that is something that I have been seeing. I love to see the guys happy and smiling when they come back from a win and hate when they are down after a loss.
Q: How has the Atlanta area responded to the growth of lacrosse?
JK: I think it is going well. We try to get out to camps at local schools. A few of us are coaching over at Pace Academy and some other guys are at other schools in the area. We are there every day of the week. The area is responding great to the growth with programs popping up everywhere.
Q: What is it like coaching the future of the sport at Pace Academy? What things do you try to instill in the younger guys for their future?
JK: We help kids at public and private schools throughout the area. We coach from Varsity down to the Middle school levels at Pace Academy. We teach these kids something that they may have never learned if it wasn’t for us. It is not what I expected before doing this. But, it is cool to see it pay off for the kids who gain scholarships for college through our coaching.
Q: What was your biggest collegiate accomplishment at Ohio State Univeristy?
JK: My biggest collegiate accomplishment would have to be when we brought the first ever NCAA home-bid to Ohio Stadium against Towson. We had a heck of a team that year and everyone on that team was proud of it.
Q: What do you see in this Swarm team compared to other teams in your Career?
JK: The drive is what I noticed to be different in this team than past teams. We have a group chat and guys constantly post about how they are keeping in shape. We have a group of guys who are willing to make sacrifices for the team. That is something that is interesting. We are also a young team with strong goalkeeping. We are a levelheaded team and that will take us far into the playoffs.
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