Constant Stops and Starts Haven't Deterred Jeff Teat


Jeff Teat is used to it by now. 

The stop/start nature to his professional career is nothing new to Teat. It’s the unfortunate reality of trying to compete during a global pandemic. 

He’s played just two games for the New York Riptide in a highly anticipated rookie season in the National Lacrosse League. And that came after a delayed start with Atlas LC in the Premier Lacrosse League. 

But the one consistent for Teat through it all is Hill Academy. It’s where Teat gained valuable field lacrosse experience when enrolled there before he embarked on a collegiate career at Cornell University. 

And now the 24-year-old attackman is giving back to the Ontario private school, serving as an assistant coach as he helps develop the next crop of Canadian standouts. 

“When I came here, I didn’t have a ton of field lacrosse experience, and it kind of transformed me to the player and the kind of person I am … a lot of the values I learned through my whole life were learned either here at the Hill or at Cornell,” Teat said. “Coming back and paying it forward and teaching them the stuff I learned so they can be successful, we have many other coaches who have done the same, so it’s kind of full circle.”

A benefit of Teat’s time at the Hill is the chance to practice with many of those coaches who are fellow professionals, including Graeme Hossack, Brodie Merrill and Clarke Petterson.

“It’s rewarding coaching the kids and a bit of fun playing and training with some professionals after,” Teat said. 

More than anything, though, Teat wants to get back to advancing his burgeoning professional career. The first overall pick in the 2020 NLL Entry Draft, Teat played in just one of the Riptide’s first three games before returning in Week 7 with three goals and four assists in a 13-12 loss to Panther City Lacrosse Club.

In his debut, Teat tallied three goals and two assists in a 13-12 overtime loss to the Rochester Knighthawks.

“I feel like I’ve been around the league for a while, not actually playing, but watching with my dad and stuff like that,” Teat said, referring to his father Dan, a 14-year NLL veteran who coaches the Panther City LC offense. “So actually being able to play, being around the guys, the atmosphere and stuff like that has been great.”

Teat’s first NLL goal was also the first for the new-look Riptide, picking himself up off the floor after a cross-check by Ryland Rees and diving in front of goal to stuff the ball past goalie Evan Kirk. 

The ball was scooped up by Jake Fox, though Teat doesn’t know where it is now — he assumes Riptide equipment manager Nick May has it. He doesn’t consider it a personal milestone, but more evidence of an aggressive mentality he and the club’s other first-year players, including Larson Sundown, play with. 

“The first one was just us feeling comfortable with each other and not being passive as a rookie and just being aggressive and doing what we did,” Teat said. 

With the New York Islanders moving to their new home in Elmont, the Riptide are the main tenants at Nassau Coliseum, a venue that’s been home to not only great hockey moments, but also indoor lacrosse, from the Long Island Tomahawks to the New York Saints and the New York Titans and now the Riptide. 

“Being able to play at the Coliseum, you kind of felt it during our practice the night before and in our shootaround that the season is finally here and we get to compete against another team for the first time and in front of some great fans and some family, which is always nice,” Teat said. “I think that whole experience of coming together for the first game was definitely a little bit different than training camp or just, playing in your hometown, which is great.”

Teat went into COVID-19 protocols and missed the next two games after his debut — losses to the Philadelphia Wings and Georgia Swarm. And the Riptide’s fourth game, at Colorado on New Year’s Eve, was postponed. 

The most difficult part of the most recent delay for Teat has been not being with his new teammates, not getting to continue to jell as a new team and continue building on a chemistry born during preseason. 

“The guys on the team are awesome, super welcoming, great teammates, and I’ve had a lot of fun up to this point, even though I haven’t seen them in a while, just staying in touch with them, checking in on each other, how everyone is doing and really eager to get back to playing, to be honest,” Teat said. 

There are similarities between Teat’s first two professional experiences. He also had a delayed start with Atlas LC because of COVID-19 border travel restrictions at the time. But Teat hit the ground running, winning PLL Rookie of the Year honors after finishing fourth in the league in scoring with 16 goals and 32 points.

“Luckily for me, this team was extremely welcoming, and the guys on this team 100 percent trust in me and the other rookies without even playing with each other before,” Teat said. “That’s a big component of our rookie successes as a group, and I think that’s what makes our team very special.”

Teat was also ranked No. 6 in the PLL’s Players Top 50 in a vote by his peers, another special honor in his rookie season. 

“I think respect by your peers is worth more than applause,” Teat said. “So, I think that’s something everybody kind of wants and something that I definitely learned and kind of strived for, especially at Cornell. The big thing of ours is just being great teammates. Being respected by your teammate is the most important thing, so I think that’s just kind of a reflection of that and it’s definitely a tough list to crack.”

What can Teat do for an encore in the PLL? 

“I think the No. 1 goal is definitely winning a championship, and I’m feeling grateful to be part of the Atlas and I couldn’t have asked for a better group to start with,” Teat said. “We had a good amount of rookies, so me and all the other first-year guys felt extremely comfortable, not trying to step on anybody’s feet or anything like that. We were just able to come in and feel totally comfortable just playing our game.”

And that special bond with teammates is another important similarity between Teat’s season with Atlas LC and the Riptide. 

“It’s definitely very similar, especially because this Riptide group is a lot of new faces on the floor and off the floor,” Teat said. “We’ve done a great job of kind of coming together and trusting each other. There wasn’t really a base or a foundation before this year with this group. I think creating that base and continuing to find our identity is really important.”

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