When you think about professional lacrosse players that are from Westchester County, there are two that are connected at the hip because they are both from Yorktown Heights. Roy Colsey played for three box lacrosse teams in the New York area, the New York Saints from 1997 to 2001, the New Jersey Storm in 2003, and the New York Titans in 2007. John Ranagan is also from Yorktown Heights and he is about to follow in the footsteps of Colsey by calling the Nassau Coliseum home.
Ranagan, a five-year veteran defenseman, is back home to play for the New York Riptide in their inaugural NLL season as indoor lacrosse returns to the Coliseum. He went to see Colsey and the Saints play at “The Barn” years ago and now it’s going to be his playground.
“It’s awesome,” said Ranagan who has 41 points, 278 loose balls and 55 forced turnovers in 83 career NLL games. “Roy Colsey is a legend in my hometown. To play so close to home…I have a ton of family in Queens, (on) Long Island, and Westchester. To have it kind of come full circle from going to those games as a kid just kind of someday you’ll play to be a leader on a new team in New York is honestly surreal.”
The 28-year old Ranagan was selected by the Riptide from the Georgia Swarm in the second round of the NLL Expansion draft. Last season, Ranagan played thirteen games and notched a goal and four assists to go along with 25 loose balls ten forced turnovers. The former Johns Hopkins star is 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, bringing a big body to the Riptide’s defensive group.
But what stands out about Ranagan, more so than any stats, is the type of leadership that he brings to the Riptide.
“He’s just an unbelievable teammate on and off the floor,” said Riptide General Manager and Head Coach Regy Thorpe. “He’s a guy that’s really going to help lead our organization here not only for this year but for years to come.”
Ranagan, who brings the experience of being a part of Georgia’s 2017 NLL Championship team, was recognized for his leadership efforts this past season by winning the NLL’s “Teammate of the Year” award. It’s a unique award that you don’t see in other professional leagues and it speaks volumes to why the Riptide wanted him.
It meant a lot for Ranagan to be recognized as a great teammate.
“I’ve been playing sports for pretty much all my life and to win an award like that was probably the coolest award I’ve ever won,” said Ranagan. “That’s kind of the main reason I continue to play is that I just want to be a great teammate. I love being around a locker room. I love being able to help guys and try and get a team to reach their potential. It was definitely an awesome award to win and it’s just a credit to the great teammates that I’ve had.”
Ranagan’s leadership on an expansion team is going to be vital as the veterans and rookies must develop chemistry very quickly in order to be competitive right away. Part of being a great teammate is being able to bring everyone on the team together and to believe that everything they do individually has to be for the best interests of the team.
“I think the main thing is just the goal is to win,” said Ranagan. “As a good teammate, you have to put your teammates first and foremost and just kind of make sure that everybody is on the same path and if you can help in any way whether it’s vocal leadership or just making sure you’re working hard every shift to set a good example.”
A big reason why the Riptide selected Ranagan in the expansion draft is the familiarity that he has with the coaching staff as well as some of the other veterans on the team. Ranagan played for Thorpe as well as Riptide assistant coach Joe Smith with the U.S. indoor team. The staff also recognized the intangibles that he brings to a brand-new team.
“(John) won an NLL Championship,” said Thorpe. “He knows what it takes to win and knows what it takes to perform on and off the field. His energy has been awesome. He’s a big strong kid and his leadership with (Tyler) Digby and (Dan) MacRae has really been a huge help over these training camps to get us pointed in the right direction.”
And so far, the Riptide appear to be headed in the right direction.
They have a record of 2-1 in pre-season play, an indication that the team has gelled since the start of training camp. Ranagan has played in two of the exhibition games and has two goals and one assist for three points. He has been a big part of the leadership group on and off the field and he’s happy with how the team looks so far as the players have bought into the mantra of the entire team.
“It’s gone really well,” said Ranagan, who played this past outdoor season for Chrome Lacrosse Club in the PLL. “We have a great coaching staff in place. We’re able to get that team chemistry going a lot sooner than maybe we all anticipated. It’s been a lot of fun. You’re going to give 110 percent every time out there. You’re going to work hard getting to those dirty areas and just play a blue-collar style of lacrosse.”
While the veterans have been doing their thing on and off the field, Ranagan has been very impressed with the rookies on the team including first round picks Tyson Gibson and Tyson Bomberry along with third round selection Travis Longboat. On an expansion team, a lot is expected from young players so Ranagan is happy with what he sees so far.
“(Gibson) is a tremendous talent out the front door,” said Ranagan. “I think he’s going to have a long career in this league. Tyson Bomberry walks in and he feels like he’s a six-year vet. A guy Travis Longboat has been one of the hardest guys to defend. He’s small and he’s always moving.”
It’s not easy for an expansion team to be successful on the field right away. History suggests that it can take a few years for a new team to mesh, add the right players, and become a winner. History will also tell you that the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights recent went to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural year of 2017-18. So, I posed the question to Ranagan since he knows a thing or two about winning a championship.
Can the Riptide be a competitive team in their inaugural season?
“There’s a lot of belief in our locker room in the guys we have,” said Ranagan. “I think we have the right group of guys. We’re going to be a team that’s going to work hard together. That’s our goal. At the end of the day, you’re a professional athlete and you’re paid to win games and that’s the mindset we’re going into this season.”
The words of a proven leader and a great teammate.
There are plenty of quality leaders and veterans on the New York Riptide and together with the rookies, it makes for a fascinating collection of talent on an expansion team. With a guy like John Ranagan, reigning NLL “Teammate of the Year”, as one of those leaders, whose to say that the Riptide can’t be this year’s version of the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Riptide will certainly roll the dice with a player and leader like John Ranagan.