Story by Zach Babo
In a league focused on high scoring, flashy play, and prolific offensive numbers, defense is often overlooked. Tom Garvey is a rising stud on Denver’s defense who has remained largely under the radar.
After winning the national championship, the Hopkins grad got minimal playing time his rookie season in Baltimore. This year Garvey has carved himself a new home in the Rockies, starting at close for the Outlaws alongside Brandon Testa, and the solid veteran, Lee Zink.
Garvey’s high lacrosse IQ, sound fundamental play, and quick feet have earned him a spot and the praise of his teammates and coaches. “He is grounded in great fundamentals, obviously working with Petro at Hopkins. I’ve been impressed with his play,” said Denver’s defensive coordinator George McGeeney.
“He’s got excellent footwork, a very quick stick, and I think if you can combine those two together in this league you can become a dominant defenseman…. He is a great team defensive guy, very smart, but I’d like to see him become a shut down guy. I think he’s got all the tools to do it.”
Though he usually plays on the wing guarding the opposing teams second best attackman (Zink, being the proven veteran, marks the best, or most experienced attackman), McGeeney has enough confidence in Garvey’s foot-speed that he occasionally bumps a shortstick down to the crease or wing, and lets Garvey run up top against an opponents best middie.
“For me, that’s a true compliment, because if you are going to go up top with those guys, you got to have the ability to move your feet pretty quickly to adjust,” McGeeney said. “Clearly, I feel very confident putting him on the wing against any attackman in the league.”
McGeeney enjoys working with Garvey for how coachable the young player is too. Garvey’s humility and aptitude have accelerated his transition to starting. “Whether we’re making minor adjustments on things he can do during a game, or talking about things that can enhance his skills, he’s very open to it; he’s a very humble guy,” McGeeney said. “He’s a bright kid and he picks up on the things the other defensemen do.”
Zink is one of those defensemen Garvey is learning from. Already a proven starter in the league, Zink has been pleasantly surprised by Garvey’s play thus far. “He’s a great position guy,” Zink said. “His stick placement is usually pretty perfect anytime anybody dodges against him…. He’s definitely a smart defender. He understands that game; that’s definitely important.”
Zink only sees upside for Garvey’s future. The more games he gets under his belt against top offensive players, the more he will improve and assert himself in the league. “The more you play, the more you get comfortable in this league, the more confidence comes to you, and that’s one thing any young guy has got to learn,” Zink said. “The best way for a defender to get his name out there is stopping the big names.”
As Garvey has gotten more comfortable with his new team on the field, he has done so off the Field too. “Our locker room combines a lot of unique personalities which makes for constant entertainment,” Garvey said. “I’m probably one of the quieter guys on the team.”
“I feel more comfortable in this role because I don’t have to think about making a mistake and ending up on the bench,” Garvey said. “My confidence is up this year, and as the season progresses I hope to become more aggressive without exposing our defense.”
It seems the venture West has paid dividends for both the Outlaws and Garvey. “You can tell he’s definitely more confident out on the field,” Zink said. “With expansion...it gives him a chance to play, and he’s shattered the bar.”