Johnny Powless has already captured some hardware from his rookie pro season with the Rochester Knighthawks.
The 19-year-old Mohawk Turtle, who lives in Canada in the Six Nations community of Ohsweken, was chosen as the most sportsmanlike player in the nine-team National Lacrosse League (NLL).
“It’s a great honor to win that award,” said Powless.
But the accolade has also resulted in Powless receiving his share of good-natured ribbing, even from his own teammates.
“On Twitter they’re chirping at me, calling me things like a big goon,” Powless said.
In reality, however, Powless is far from that. Even in the rough-and-tumble NLL he did not receive a single major penalty in his rookie season. He was assessed just 10 penalty minutes in 16 games.
Powless contributed with his hands in other ways, finishing fourth in Knighthawks’ scoring with 50 points, including 26 goals.
Not too shabby for somebody who is actually still in high school. Powless did graduate from Hagersville Secondary School last June but returned this year to take some additional classes.
Powless, who also participated in the NLL’s all-star game in Buffalo in February, is now focussing on the Knighthawks’ playoffs.
Rochester kicked off its post-season this past Friday by edging the visiting Philadelphia Wings 14-13 in an East Division semi-final contest. Powless scored once and added an assist in this game.
The Knighthawks are now gearing up for their East final versus the defending league champion Toronto Rock. This match is set for today in Toronto.
Powless is confident his team can win this game and the NLL title the following weekend.
“You’ve got to think positively,” he said. “I believe we can win it all.”
Though he is also from Ohsweken, Powless is not related to a pair of other former lacrosse greats from the community – the late Ross Powless or his son Gaylord Powless, who is also deceased. These two are considered among the best Canadian lacrosse players ever.
Powless’ father Joe did play a bit of pro though. He was a member of the Buffalo Renegades, who participated in the Canadian National Lacrosse League, which folded in 1991 after just one season.
As for Powless, he’ll have plenty of other games to play this year, after the Knighthawks conclude their campaign.
Despite being a pro, he still has three years of eligibility remaining with the Six Nations Arrows, a Junior A squad that competes in the Ontario Lacrosse Association (OLA).
Powless spent his past two springs and summers toiling with the Arrows. He racked up a whopping 180 points, including 111 goals, in just 43 games.
Powless also was selected as the OLA’s most sportsmanlike player during his 2011 campaign with the Arrows.
Since he is already playing professionally in the NLL, Powless is not eligible to accept any scholarship offers and compete in the NCAA ranks.
But he does plan to continue his schooling. This September he will begin his studies in the fitness and wellness program at Mohawk College’s campus located in Brantford, Ontario.