Whatever Happened to Joffa?
Joffa in control for the Baltimore Bombers
Celebrating a goal with the loyal Baltimore fans
The surname Joy is synonymous with Lacrosse in Victoria and Australia thanks to Malvern stalwarts Dave and Rita, who are never far away from a lacrosse field and are familiar faces in the scorers bench or coaches box at junior and senior games. For most of us, it is family that introduces us and feeds our life long obsession with the sport and never was this more the case than with son Jeff.
Many of you would recall that Jeff was (and probably still is) an outstanding goalkeeper who minded the net for Malvern, Victoria and Australian Under 23 rep teams. However, in the last few years 'Joffa' -- as you probably know him -- has turned his talents to attack and to tormenting goalies instead of being one. If you haven't seen him sporting the red and black of Malvern of late the reason is that Jeff packed up his lax gear and moved to the modern home of lacrosse, Baltimore, to 'live the dream' and play quality lacrosse all year round. Now it is indoor or box lacrosse that Joffa is focussing on and after having represented Australia at the 2011 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships he has been drafted by the Baltimore Bombers of the North American Lacrosse League - a new professional indoor lacrosse league based on the East Coast of the USA.
Lacrosse Victoria caught up with Joffa to see what he's been up to and what his future plans are.
LV - Jeff, thanks for agreeing to speak to us. You have not been seen around Melbourne lacrosse haunts in a while. What have you been up to?
JJ - I have been living in Baltimore, Maryland playing indoor and outdoor lacrosse and working at bringing my game to the next level. The lacrosse here is insane and its everywhere 24/7!
LV - Tell us a little bit about your lacrosse background, how did you come to play the game and who were some of your influences growing up?
JJ - I was born into the Malvern lacrosse club spending my first day out of hospital after being born at he club watching my father (Dave) run around. My parents are two people that I definitely look up to and who have been very supportive of me over the years.
The biggest influences on me where Malvern legends like Brad Skepper, Paul Cook, Rod Ansell and Chris Baker, to just name a few. Malvern is a very successful club and there have been a lot of great players who have helped me over the years.
LV - So, you’ve taken to the indoor game in a big way – having played in the most recent world games in Prague – what draws you to playing indoor?
JJ - Some of my biggest strengths are having soft hands in close to the goal and the ability to shoot and finish the ball in tight as well. Playing indoor really suits my style of finishing in tight and working in a small spaces. But it has also developed my outdoor game. While using the some of the same skills I learnt from indoor and using them outdoor it has added some more dimensions to my game.
LV - Tell us about 'livin’ the dream' in the US. Where are you living? And what are you doing to support yourself?
JJ - I'm living on the East Coast of the USA in Baltimore and just up the street from Towson University, Johns Hopkins University and Loyola University - some of the best known lacrosse teams in the world. I work in construction and roofing so I'm working all over Maryland and around Washington D.C. and Virginia.
LV - What levels of lacrosse have you been playing. Got any highlights you’d like to share with us?
JJ - I have been playing local club (field) lax. The club scene is pretty serious here with a lot of ex college guys running around so the level is pretty good. I play year round which is awesome and so far have won a few tournaments and 2 indoor champion ships in the Baltimore indoor league.
LV - OK the big news is that you have been drafted to play in the NALL for the Baltimore Bombers, what is the NALL? And tell us about your experience so far.
JJ -The NALL is the North American Lacrosse League and its made of only US teams unlike the NLL which is perdominalty Canadians. It has been an awesome experience to play in places like Kentucky, Boston and Rhode Island and then to have everything paid for and make some pocket money playing the sport you love. I'm pretty lucky.
LV - Your club mate from Melbourne, Glenn Meredith, has been selected as the Head Coach of the 2014 Australian team for field lacrosse and you're in the current Australian squad, can you give us your thoughts on this team and what you think it can achieve.
JJ - Well firstly the Coaching panel and training staff that is going to Denver in 2014 is world class. All coaches have played at the highest level and been around the game for many years and their track record for coaching speaks for itself. So I know Australia will have the best coaching staff and will be best physically prepared team to ever wear the Green and Gold. As for the team, every spot is going to be hard fought over with quality guys going for every position. I have no doubt in my mind having played and trained with and against the USA guys that we can compete and win a goal medal in Denver 2014.
LV - Your club side Malvern made it to the Grand Final last season. Any chance you’ll suit up for Malvern again soon?
JJ - I'll be back for the Nationals in June in Melbourne and the Team Australia tryout camp so I'm hoping I can fit a game or two for the Red and Black. Maybe against Williamstown - but only at the Town Hall. The Fearon would have to be the coldest place on earth that I have ever played lacrosse and I think I still have frostbite!
LV - Any advice for young Aussies who want to play in the NALL?
JJ - Live your dreams and roll the dice. Never let anyone tell you that you cant do it or you'll never make. Work on your game every day and hard work pays off.
Thanks to Jeff for sharing his time and thoughts with us.
If you're interested in watching the NALL and catching Jeff (#24 in the Red, White and Black) score a hat-trick for the Bombers against the Boston Rockhoppers watch the video below:
More information about the NALL: http://www.northamericanlacrosseleague.com/