By Steven Gross | 5/23/12 12:00 AM
Chesapeake Bayhawks Midfielder Michael Kimmel was named the MLL Offensive Player of the Week for Week 4 after scoring six goals including a two-pointer and recording one assist. Kimmel, who is in his third season with the league, helped the Bayhawks improve to 3-1 with a 19-7 win over the Hamilton Nationals on Friday. MLL’s Steve Gross had an opportunity to speak with Kimmel to gain insight into his award-winning performance.
Congratulations on the MLL Offensive Player of the Week Award. Can you tell us your reaction when you heard you won the league award?
Thank you. I was excited. It’s fun to be winning awards. It is a good time for our team, and we are just putting up a lot of goals and doing well so far.
Can you walk us through last week’s game, specifically your award-winning performance?
We played pretty poorly against Rochester the week before. We have some new faces on our team with John Grant Jr. and Nicky Polanco and we wanted to get off to a good start [in Hamilton]. We figured that if we were going to take the trip all the way up to Canada and a lot of guys were taking off work and spending time away from their families, we wanted to go out there and enjoy each other and have a good game. John Grant Jr. got us started and drew a lot of attention. We built off that momentum and our defense played great with Kip Turner, who started to get a grove in the net for us, and Nicky Polanco. It all started with the defense, kind of setting the tone and stopping their first couple of possessions. Like I said, John Grant Jr. received all of their attention and it opened things up for a lot of our middies.
In the fourth quarter you scored three goals including a two-point goal for the Bayhawks. Can you describe what happened that led you to explode in the 4th?
I think it had to do with Brodie Merrill who guarded Kyle Dixon. They were also bumping up a few poles to guard Ben Hunt, as well, who is another big threat. I think my outside shots came off when guys were trying to switch match-ups and the guys did a good job setting up picks for me. I think Steve Brooks set a pick for me one time and the [Hamilton] defenders did not communicate well enough to get through the 2 on 1 and keep the match up with Steve Brooks. A couple times I got freed up and flew under the radar.
With the 11 a.m. start in Friday’s game against the Nationals, what did you do differently to prepare? Was it difficult to adjust to the early start time?
No, the night game against Rochester didn’t really go our way. We thought the morning start time would be a little better. The good thing was that Nicky Polanco asked the waiter at the hotel if he could get us some oatmeal so I had oatmeal for the first time before a game. Maybe I will try to do it for the next one.
Last year, you also won Offensive Player of the Week against the Nationals. Can you explain how you’ve been able to excel when facing this team, especially since they boast defensive legends like Brodie Merrill?
Brodie isn’t typically guarding me, which is nice. Both times we faced them was at the beginning of the season when they’re coming off the indoor season and their guys weren’t running at full speed, especially their short sticks who are used to playing in tight areas with indoor. There is an adjustment period for the indoor players when they switch to the field game. I think that is the reason for the success that I have had.
You have already tied your personal points record this season with 13 in just 4 games. Can you tell us if you’ve been doing anything differently, whether it’s an off-the-field workout or your general understanding of the game?
I’ve been playing a lot of squash on the side, which has been my new thing. I’m trying to be active with that. That’s really the main way that I have been able to get in better shape this year. It’s running around on the squash court and chasing the ball around. I’m just trying to have fun in the game this season and stay confident. The main thing is confidence. Hopefully with the guys surrounding me I will have the opportunity to finish on the back end.
Squash does sound really interesting. Would you recommend this to other lacrosse players as a way to take your game to the next level?
Yeah, I think it helps with your footwork and especially when you’re just learning the game. I am not really good but I get run a lot. I am playing against guys who are 65 years old that just run me around the whole time. It is a fun sport and it definitely gets your heart rate up.
Your team’s record is 3-1 heading into the bye week. What are your expectations for the Bayhawks moving forward?
We get a week off with the Memorial Day Weekend and then we go out to Denver to play them. I think the focus will be getting used to playing with all these new guys. We will be getting Michael Evans back and with Nicky Polanco it will be a pretty mean defense. Obviously with John Grant Jr. and Drew Westervelt, who are new to the team this year, I think you will see some good things from us if we can be unselfish and get used to each other.
Next weekend you guys face the Denver Outlaws who are also 3-1. Whatdo you and the Bayhawks need to do to keep up the momentum and pull ahead of the Outlaws in the standings?
Jesse Schwartzman is an old roommate of mine. It will be fun to play against him. He is definitely one of those goalies who can get hot so we are going to try to take some good shots on him in the beginning of the game. We will see if we can get a couple goals on him and go from there. But if we give him some easy saves, he is one of the best [goalies] in the game. I think the biggest thing in that game is staying smart and being on Jesse. Hopefully our defense can do what they have been doing and play aggressive and stay under control and hopefully we can stay out of the penalty box.
There has been a lot of talk about the MLL All-Star Game that will take place in Florida this year. Last year you had a record All-Star performance: You tied the record for 2-point goals with three, and you set an All-Star record by posting nine points. You obviously set the bar pretty high – what can you tell us about last year’s performance and what we can expect from you this year?
(Laughs) Well I have to get picked to play in the game first but last year was a lot of fun. There was not a ton of defense played in that game because everyone is out there enjoying different faces. No one wants to be that guy hurting anyone in an All-Star Game. If I get picked this year I will be honored and it would be a fun trip to go out to Florida and play. I cannot really tell you what to expect but I know it will be a fun trip.
Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?
I tie my shoes a lot; over and over. That is my one superstition.
Do you have a reason for that?
I think it is just an OCD thing that I cannot control. My shoes just don’t feel comfortable.
What is your favorite part of lacrosse?
Being around and meeting new people. Guys you normally wouldn’t be around and just making friendships.
Favorite TV show?
HBO Boxing: 24/7
The song “Naive Melody” by the Talking Heads is my favorite song.
If you could have dinner with any celebrity, who would it be?
Either Kevin Durant from the Oklahoma City Thunder or Will Ferrell.
MLL will host its marquee event in Palm Beach County, FL this year on Saturday, June 30! To buy your tickets now, click here. To learn more about the 2012 MLL All-Star Game presented by Moe's Southwest Grill, click here. The 2012 MLL All-Star Game will feature the best lacrosse players in the world, all on one field and will be aired live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.