Most players make a steady progression leading up to making their National Lacrosse League debut. Most begin by playing junior or college ball, eventually get drafted and then compete for a spot on the team’s opening day roster out of training camp.
And for most, that takes time.
That wasn’t the case at all for newcomer Joe Post, a Canandaigua native who happened to be at the right place at the right time and available when needed most.
Post signed his contract with the Knighthawks last Monday (March 6), joined the team in Brampton for his first official practice on Tuesday (March 7) and made his professional debut on Sunday (March 12) in Georgia, helping Rochester to a 19-18 win over the Swarm.
All in less than a week’s time.
“It was a really quick turnaround from the time I got the call from Dan to playing my first game on Sunday,” said Post. “But there was also a lot of excitement. It’s been a while since I played a lacrosse game, and I was just really excited for the opportunity.”
The acclimation process was aided by how welcoming the players were to Post, particularly Ryland Rees and Dan Coates, who immediately took Post under their wing.
“Ryland and Dan have both been super helpful in making me feel at home and answering any questions I have,” said Post. “Ryland has been going through video with me, showing me what to do and where to be on the floor. They both have been great teammates and great leaders.”
The urgency on the part of Knighthawks general manager Dan Carey to bring Post into the mix was necessitated not so much by want, but by need. Rochester lost two of its key players to injuries the week prior in a loss against the Toronto Rock, including Tyler Halls, who Carey and head coach Mike Hasen have used as their primary face-off specialist for much of the season.
“He’s a local guy and someone we’ve had our eye on for a while now,” said Carey. With a few guys going down with injuries, especially Halls, we needed someone to step in right away and fill that position.”
“Having someone who is in the area and can learn the game and go through development process is really beneficial and advantageous for our organization,” added Carey.
Here we go.
Everyone say hi to Joe Post who is making his NLL debut today! pic.twitter.com/nQFVs3J9A2
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) March 12, 2023
Fortunately, Post is local and is somewhat of a face-off specialist himself, perhaps the most notable to come out of Rochester. He carved out an impressive five-year career at St. John Fisher University and before that at Canandaigua Academy.
Ironically enough, Post, who becomes the third player from the Greater Rochester Area to sign with the Knighthawks, joining Pittsford’s Jared Conners and Penn Yan’s Bradley Voigt, has been on Rochester’s radar for months. The team was prepared to offer Post a contract during the start of the team’s 2022 training camp but was forced to decline due to a nagging injury and starting a new job as a teacher in his hometown of Canandaigua.
It just wasn’t the right time for Post to join the Knighthawks. He wanted to ensure that he was going to be 100 percent and be able to give the team his all. That wasn’t possible in November but fast forward four months later and he’s already one game into his professional career.
“For his first game, I thought he did very well. It’s going to be an adjustment, and that’s something he (Post) knows as well,” said Carey. “He had a great career in DIII, and we think, with his particular skillset, it translates well to the box game, and in turn should aid in his transition to the professional level.”
Post was quite literally thrown into the fire, too, going up against no other than Georgia’s Jeremy Thompson, one of the four lacrosse-playing Thompson brothers and one of the NLL’s top transition players.
Post finished the night winning 13-of-37 face-off attempts while adding six loose ball recoveries. Not bad considering his opponent at the center dot currently ranks among the league’s top 10 in face-off wins.
“I feel like I did OK, but I still have a lot to learn and a lot to improve upon,” said Post reflecting on his pro debut, “but I was certainly happy with the first game.”
“The face-offs are pretty similar to the outdoor game, but it’s everything after the face-off that’s different in box,” said Post. “The pace of the game, the ball movement, there’s obviously less space and reaction time.”
The one benefit of going up against a player like Thompson was it provided a learning opportunity for Post to perhaps pick up on the smaller details of the position.
“I was picking up on all the little things, his stance, the way he looked at the ref,” said Post. “All those little things and his habits that have allowed him to be successful.”
It doesn’t get any easier for the newcomer either. In the six games remaining on Rochester’s regular-season schedule, Post will be facing off against some of the best in the game at his position, including three matchups against arguably one of the most established face-off specialists in the game in Trevor Baptiste of the Philadelphia Wings.
Rochester will see the Wings twice over the next three weeks before closing out the regular season against Philadelphia at home on April 29, giving him ample time to continue honing his craft while learning from the best at his position around the league.
“For me, trying to familiarize with the face-offs will be a big focal point,” said Post when asked what are the biggest things he’s focusing on for the remainder of the season. “There are few differences and tweaks compared to the outdoor game, but I’m just trying to take everything one day at a time and one practice at a time.”
Post is one of the most decorated players to come out of Division III St. John Fisher University in Rochester, where he was a two-time USILA All-America First Team selection and holds NCAA Division III all-time records for career face-off wins (1,250) and groundball recoveries (854). A four-time Empire 8 All-Conference honoree, he also owns the distinction of becoming just the second player in program history to be crowned Empire 8 Conference Player of the Year.
In 78 career games with the Cardinals, Post scored 17 goals and added 10 assists for 27 points. He also won 1,250-of-1,755 face-off attempts, good for a. 704 winning percentage. He won more than 200 face-offs in four of his five seasons and topped the 300-mark twice, including 336 during his sophomore campaign, while helping Fisher to three straight NCAA National Championship tournament appearances.
As a graduate student in 2022, Post tied career-highs in goals (5) and points (7) while dominating inside the face-off circle, winning 313-of-433 face-offs for a career-best .723 winning percentage, which ranked seventh in the country. He also finished the season ranked second nationally with 237 ground balls, becoming the first player in D-III history to surpass the career 800-mark, on his way to earning USA Lacrosse Magazine and USILA All-America First Team honors for the second straight year.
He earned more than 20 face-off wins on four occasions during the season, including going 24-for-30 while recording two points (1+1) in the 30-11 win over Nazareth in the Empire 8 Championship game on May 7, 2022. Post helped the Cardinals finish the season with a 16-3 record, leading to his selection as USILA’s Co-Faceoff Specialist of the Year and Empire 8 Conference Player of the Year.
During his senior season, Post set career-highs in goals (5) and points (7) while winning 267-of-378 face-off attempts. For his efforts, he was named a USILA All-America First Team and USA Lacrosse Magazine All-America Third Team selection in addition to being named to the Empire 8 All-Conference First Team and All-Tournament Team.
As a sophomore, Post was named to the Empire 8 All-Conference First Team after setting the program’s all-time single-season record with 244 ground balls leading Empire 8 with 336 face-off wins with a .707 winning percentage.
Post emerged as Fisher’s primary face-off specialist as a freshman in 2019 when he led the conference in face-off wins (236) and ground balls (143) en route to earning Empire 8 All-Conference Second Team honors.
Prior to joining Fisher, Post was an accomplished three-sport athlete in hockey, lacrosse and football at Canandaigua Academy. He was named Canandaigua’s Male Athlete of the Year in 2017 and garnered All-Greater Rochester accolades for all three sports as a senior. Post was also a two-time All-Monroe County Division II selection, including a First Team nod as a senior.
With his first game behind him, Post can now focus on what’s ahead, beginning with making his home debut in front of his friends and family Sunday against Philadelphia.
“I’m excited to play in front of my family and friends,” said Post. “There’s been a ton of support of the Knighthawks from the local lacrosse community, even dating back to the previous franchise. I’ve been to several games over the years and I’m looking forward to the opportunity on being on the other side of it from the floor.”