Denver Outlaws: You’ve considered retirement a few times before, what makes now the right time for you to step away from MLL for good?
Lee Zink: I attempted to walk away after the 2011 season after a lingering injury. Tony Seaman convinced me to return and renewed my focus and commitment with the goal of securing the Outlaws first championship. I have had an amazing career from my high school days at Darien High School, my college days at the University of Maryland, my two years with the Baltimore Bayhawks and the last nine years with the Outlaws. To cap it off with a championship with the Outlaws has been a dream.
DO: Summer 2014 was a summer of playing for Team USA and winning the 2014 MLL Championship with the Outlaws, what were those experiences like for you?
LZ: There were two goals weighing on my shoulders throughout my career—winning a championship with the Outlaws and representing Team USA. I dedicated myself to these goals and so just lucky that we achieved them this summer.
DO: What was special about the 2014 Denver Outlaws team that made it different from past Outlaws teams/seasons?
LZ: The Outlaws have had so many good teams in the past nine years, but this 2014 team battled every game which allowed us to succeed in the playoffs and hoist the Steinfeld Trophy for the first time. It was a great group of youth and veterans with one goal. There are so many personalities in the locker room and you end up playing for each other. We counted on and trusted each other, battled through injuries and set aside the pain for the ultimate goal of wining the championship. This team didn’t quit. We were down so many times this season, down in both playoff games and continued to battle.
So many great memories from this season—watching Anthony Kelly hoisting the trophy for the first time after battling an Achilles injury, [Jeremy] Sieverts with the game winning goal in the semis and game tying two-pointer in the finals, [Drew] Snider with the winner with under a minute in the game in the finals, [John Grant Jr.] Junior’s countless behind the back goals (I’ve been on the wrong side of that for too many years), to celebrating in the locker room afterward.
DO: What did winning the 2014 MLL Championship mean to you?
LZ: It was a very special moment for me (and my family). I so happy to share this championship with my teammates, the fans, Mr. B, Mac Freeman, Chuck Olney and the rest of the Outlaws front office. It’s been a long journey and that what makes this championship so sweet.
It’s amazing the different feelings you share winning as an 11 year veteran verses the being the young guy on the 2005 Bayhawks. I hope this is just the start of many victories for the Outlaws.
DO: What does the city of Denver mean to you?
LZ: It’s home, it means so much being able to represent this city. The fan base has been so supportive and so proud to share it with them. We truly have the best fans in the MLL.
DO: What did it mean to be a team captain for the Denver Outlaws?
LZ: It’s been such an honor playing all nine seasons with the Outlaws and being apart of Denver’s first MLL title. I’m just lucky to be able to play with such a great group of teammates over the years.
DO: Who was one player and/or coach who really impacted your career?
Brian Reese, former coach and GM of the Outlaws. I was so lucky that Brian traded for me prior to Denver’s first season. I have had the privilege of following his career at the University of Maryland, to play along side with him for the Baltimore Bayhawks and play for him as a coach and GM of the Outlaws.
DO: What’s next for Lee Zink?
LZ: I have a feeling I’m going to change a lot of diapers. Kiera and I are expecting our first baby by year-end. Also I’m grateful that I get to play one more game and spend one more weekend with the Outlaws and my teammates this fall with a scrimmage against DU.
DO: Any advice for the younger MLL pros?
LZ: It’s great seeing so many young players dedicate their careers to lacrosse. From coaching to playing, these young guys are following in the footsteps of some of the veterans, helping and growing the MLL fan base and showcasing the talent and skill it takes to play at this level. With their dedication and commitment, the MLL has a great future ahead and I’m lucky that I have been apart of it for 11 seasons. One thing that made it easy to play so many years in the MLL was living and playing in the same city.