How did you get introduced to lacrosse?
I pretty much was born with a lacrosse stick in my hands. Ever since I was about 3 years old I have been having a catch with my father, Joe, who was an All-American goalie at Penn State. I have been very lucky to have someone who pushed me and taught me the value of hard work.
What age were you when you started playing?
Somewhat similar to above, I have been playing almost my entire life, but I first started in a youth league around 1st or 2nd grade, within the town system. Having such a strong lacrosse presence in Garden City where I grew up, I was able to meet lifelong friends who I will always share such a special bond with.
Growing up, were you a multi-sport athlete or focused strictly on lacrosse?
When I was in elementary school, I played just about every sport I could get my hands on. Whether it was lacrosse, football, baseball, basketball, and street hockey with my friends, you name it, I wanted to play it. Once I got to middle school, I played lacrosse, football, and basketball. In high school, I played football in the fall, and lacrosse in the winter and spring. I certainly spent more time playing lacrosse, but I certainly urge kids to not focus on just lacrosse, because it is certainly possible to burn out and get tired of it. Not only that, but I believe all the sports I have played have each taught me valuable lessons that I apply to lacrosse. For instance, football gave me a certain toughness and an edge that I play with on the lacrosse field, and basketball allowed me to improve my footwork and learn how to play off ball and get open for my teammates.
Growing up who was your biggest inspiration?
Certainly, I always wanted to be better than my dad and he has been someone great to look up to. However, as far as more positional inspiration and someone I spent countless hours watching highlights on was Mikey Powell. I would always try to mimic his stick tricks and some of the moves he did in games, and certainly failed many times doing so. However, he was so exciting to watch and really made me fall in love with lacrosse.
What does the first 90 minutes of your day look like?
For right now, I am certainly living a fun and exciting lifestyle. I am lucky enough to be around lacrosse 24/7. I will wake up, eat breakfast, shower, and get moving. Whether it be doing lessons, or going out on my own and shooting, I get to be around lacrosse all the time, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
What’s your career outside of the sport?
As of right now, I am in the process of figuring out which direction I would like to go with my career. Luckily enough, there are a few different routes and I can go. I could stick with the full-time lacrosse gig which is certainly a grind, I could go the coaching direction, or I could end up in sales or marketing for hopefully a great company!
Can you tell us about Needs For Speed?
Needs For Speed is a non-profit organization designed to keep children with special needs in great physical shape. We have designed workouts that the athletes can do, that will have them working and getting a sweat going, but more importantly having fun while doing it. Myself and James Sullivan (Harvard Lacrosse Senior) are the Co-Presidents and have been very fortunate to give back and keep us involved in something we both have a passion for. We have seem unbelievable support from so many, and it is so great to see people wanting to volunteer and help us out as we continue to grow. Give us a follow on Instagram @NeedsForSpeed_ to learn more and find out how to get involved!
What’s your current stick setup?
Right now, I have been lucky enough to work with STX and use their equipment thus far in the MLL. I am currently using a Stallion 700 with STX Regular Memory mesh. I use one nylon at the top and two shooters below. For a handle I am currently using an STX Surgeon Sci-Ti.
How do you tape your sticks?
I have three locations where I put tape on my handle. One spot at the top near the head, for when I cradle. Another location is where I put my hands when I shoot and pass, so I am able to find that quickly when I need to make a fast decision and has a little more grip for when I shoot. The third spot is at the bottom of the shaft, where I almost always my bottom hand whether it be for cradling, passing, shooting, groundballs, etc.
What would we find in your gear bag?
Currently you would find a whole bunch of STX equipment, which I have used in college and really enjoy. For gloves, I am using the Cell V’s, and helmet is now a Cascade S. You will find a ton of tape, lighter, screwdriver, and a few backup sticks that are the exact same as my starter for that week.
Can you describe the feeling of suiting up for your very first professional game with the Ohio Machine?
When I first started playing with Ohio a few weeks ago, I was certainly nervous, because it is like you are a freshman again. You have that feeling of not wanting to disappoint or let down the older guys who have been in the organization for many years, because you know they have put a ton of work in to be where they are. When I got to put on a new jersey that didn’t say Duke on the chest, I honestly felt a little uncomfortable. You aren’t around these guys 24/7 like you are in college, but I have been very lucky to get drafted by a great organization and a team with great character. I felt welcome right away, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the way they have treated me ever since I became apart of the Ohio Machine.
Why did you choose Duke? Were there other offers in the mix?
Whenever I am asked why I chose Duke, I am always stumped because I look at it like why would you not choose Duke if you had the opportunity. A great education, beautiful weather, the tradition of Duke Lacrosse in the past decade, and most importantly, the best coaching staff in college lacrosse. Led by the legend John Danowski, every member of the staff from top to bottom is incredible, and once I had visited Duke and was offered to play for such a great program, there was no other school I wanted to go to. There were a few offers in the mix, but not many. UPenn and Georgetown were the other few programs that really were interested, but there was only one program for me, and it was the best decision I have ever made.
What’s your favorite Coach Danowski quote?
My favorite quote out of Coach D’s has to be one that really made me proud, because he is a man that only speaks the truth, he will not say something he does not mean which is very honorable. He told the senior class that I was apart of that we had left the Duke program in better shape than when we had entered. This was certainly important to me because you never want to leave something worse than you had found it, you always want to find a way to make it better, or at least keep it the same. The senior class this past year had left their mark on the Duke program and one that coach believes will be talked about for quite some time.
Who do you think will make a big impact for Duke next year?
I do not like naming names in this type of question because I am a firm believer in the fact that every single person on the team will have an impact on the team. There are always guys who will get the spotlight, but it is the guys in practice who do not get noticed, that allow those individuals to get their names in the paper. Obviously, Duke will be returning a ton of talent on both sides of the ball, but as it goes, talent alone does not win championships. I do not know for sure what or who or will make a big impact, but I believe that the leadership in the upcoming senior class will need to be outstanding, and I can certainly see that with a few natural born leaders in their class. I am very excited to watch every game next year and see this team develop and return to championship weekend.
What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction?
The accomplishment that has given me the most satisfaction has to be breaking through to the championship game my senior year and bringing Duke back to where we belong. It made me most proud because of all the hard work we had done as a senior class and although not many in the senior class saw significant playing time or the spotlight, everyone inside the program knew how important it was to us. Although we fell short of winning a national championship, we made it to the last day, had practiced together for as long as possible, and spent an extra 3 and a half weeks together that guys will never forget. One of my individual accomplishments that has actually made myself proud was breaking the all time career goals record, because not one person would’ve believed you if they were to tell you before my career started that I would be the all time goal leader in Division 1 history, including myself. I always had individual goals that I had in mind whether it be 1st team All-American, ACC Offensive Player of the Year, or whatever, but one thing I could’ve never imagined was holding that NCAA record.
How do you handle stress and pressure?
Whenever I had felt stress or pressure, I always found it helpful to talk to my teammates or coaches. Whether it was them making me laugh, or just constantly reminding me that it’s just a game, teammates and coaches are a great outlet in those moments.
Why did you choose #14?
The number 14 has great meaning to me and I am very lucky to continue to wear it in the MLL. In the spring of my sophomore year, a good friend and teammate of mine in high school, Eddie Blatz, unexpectedly passed. He wore number 14 in high school where we were both captains of the lacrosse team and played wide receiver together in football. A few friends in high school that were playing college lacrosse thought it would be a great idea to switch to number 14 to honor Eddie and play for him each day, because personally, he was a huge reason for my success today. I also would like to thank Reed Shaffer, a teammate of mine who was wearing number 14 and gladly let me wear it for my junior and senior year.
What does your weekly workout regimen consist of?
I am really just starting to get back in the routine of a weekly workout regimen because my last couple weeks have been crazy, but I am certainly not a heavy lifter like some other guys, especially defenseman. I will probably be in the gym 2 or 3 days a week, working on my core, upper and lower body strength. However, I am on the field at least 6 times per week, which I believe is more important, because you can be as strong as you want, but if you don’t have elite stick skills, you will not be an elite player.
What is a workout every guy should be doing (but which few are)?
A workout that every guy should be doing but not many are, is certainly footwork drills. Cleans, squatting, bench press are all very important, but you must have solid footwork to be a good lacrosse player, being able to change direction quickly.
Favorite pregame/ postgame meal?
Pregame, I don’t like to eat much but I will have a yogurt and a protein bar or something along those lines. However, after a game, a chicken parmesan hero is something I certainly enjoy.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give to an attackman looking to have success on the field?
The best piece of advice I could give to someone who wants to be an elite attackman is to really the love the game and not to play because someone wants you to play. All the elite attackman have a certain passion that is genuine, and has made them want to be great. Be the hardest worker on your team, and have that attitude that there is always an area of your game you can improve.
What are your favorite shooting drills?
My favorite shooting drills include practicing my 8-10 yard shots from places on the field where I realistically take shots in games. I pride myself on being a great shooter, and am always aiming to hit opportunities at a 50% clip. Of course at the end of a hard work session, I will take shots from difficult angles that could happen, but a majority of the time I am working on shots that are most common.
Compare yourself to any athlete from a different sport? Why are you similar?
If I had to compare myself to any athlete outside of lacrosse, I would probably choose Russell Westbrook. I see Russ as a player on the court who is insanely competitive and is always pushing to be the best. He has that fire inside of him that is something that can not be taught, but allows him to be one of the best players in the NBA.
What motivates you to get up every day and get better?
I have been motivated by just being honest with myself and knowing that I can improve in a ton of different aspects of my game. I know that I am not the best attackman in the world, so until that happens, I will continue to work. If I do become the best attackman in the world, then I will set a new goal.
What was the toughest moment in your life? How did it shape you?
I have had plenty of tough moments that have shaped me and made me stronger, but one that really sticks out when I found out I needed to take a post graduate year to get into Duke. Initially in that moment, I was angry and started looking at different schools. When I took some time to calm down, I realized that playing attack at Duke was a dream that I couldn’t pass up. Although it was challenging and it would have been a lot easier to go somewhere else, I could not have been happier that I pursued my dream, because Duke Lacrosse has made me who I am today. Not only as a lacrosse player, but that program has made me who I am today as a person.
Who’s the biggest character on the Ohio Machine roster?
There are plenty, but it’s hard to say anyone else when you have Scotty Rodgers on your team. Scotty has been an incredible teammate since the moment I got drafted, and although I have met him before, I am glad I have been able to become closer with him. There is never a dull moment with that guy, and what he has done for the game is something also to be admired by.
What’s your top 10 songs in your pregame playlist?
Top 10 songs: God’s Plan by Drake, What Would I Change It To by Avicii, Let You Down by NF, Look Alive by Drake, Grove St. Party by Waka Flocka, A Milli by Lil Wayne, Strobe by Deadmau5, Spit Your Game by Biggie, Cinderella Man by Eminem, and Dreams and Nightmares by Meek Mill.
Where do you see the MLL in ten years?
I don’t know exactly where I see it, but I do hope to see the MLL in a place where the players are able to be full time professionals. The game of lacrosse is growing so rapidly, so hopefully the league continues to grow and it is considered a major sport one day.
Do you plan on playing in the NLL too?
If a team gives me an opportunity to play, I certainly plan on it. I really think my game fits well for the NLL and I believe I could have success. The NLL has some great American players, and hopefully I can make an impact in that league as well.
What’s one thing most people would be surprised to know about Justin Guterding?
Most people would be surprised to know that I have never eaten a salad in my life.