Gary Gait may have found his biggest fame by playing field lacrosse at Syracuse University. But it's the indoor box game that is secretly his passion.
"I grew up playing box and I love it," he said. "There is something about the game that gets to you. Once you play it, you are hooked by it."
Gait and his twin, Paul, will lead the Detroit Turbos into the Baltimore Arena today at 8:05 p.m. to meet the Baltimore Thunder in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League's championship game.
This is the Gaits' first year in the MILL after four years of leading the Orangemen to three consecutive National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I championships.
They have been dominant in the MILL, leading Detroit (8-2) to the National Conference championship and the best regular-season record.
Paul Gait led the MILL in goals (47) and shots (146), and Gary led in points (68), shots on goal (121) and assists (36).
"I started playing box lacrosse as a youngster, around 12 years old," Gary said. "Field lacrosse is supposed to be a gentleman's game, but box lacrosse is for every man. There is more hitting, the defense is tougher and there is more scoring. We play a tough game in Canada, but everyone uses all-wooden sticks. I think the United States players are better because they are better athletes, have better equipment, like the plastic sticks, and are in better condition.
"The MILL is doing it right. They aren't trying to expand too quickly and are playing just the right amount of games, not trying to oversell the product."
The New York Saints were the only team to beat Detroit this season. Detroit defeated the Thunder (6-4) in both games.
"The main reason that New York beat us is that they played superior defense and they wanted the games more than we did," Gary said. "They didn't stop Paul or I; they just put the ball past our goalies and beat us to the ground balls and made less mistakes than we did."
Gary Gait said Detroit will have to "hustle all over the field, get the ground balls and play with great intensity" to beat the Thunder.
"The Thunder has a lot of great players, like the Welsh brothers [Pat and Tim], Ricky Sowell, Jeff Jackson and goalie Jeff Gombar," Gait said. "I've been playing against Gombar since we were in the junior leagues together out in British Columbia, and I know he is a very good goalie. He likes to try and trick you, and he knows how to stop the ball."
Gary said he and Paul are not playing club lacrosse this season. "They don't have a club team in Syracuse [where both are completing their degree requirements], but we hope to form a team this summer and play in a lot of tournaments. It will be made up mostly of Syracuse alumni, and we are already set to play in tournaments in Vail, Colo., Cape Cod, Mass., Glastonbury, Conn., and in Syracuse. We're going to see if we can't find a few more tournaments to play in."