Paul Rabil Brian Nevins/Red Bull Photofiles

Paul Rabil is the real deal. He’s been described as the LeBron James of Lacrosse, except Rabil, as a two-time NCAA champion, FIL World Champion, MLL Nations Cup and MVP winner has more even more accolades than the Chosen 1 who is a two-time MVP and one-time Most Hated Man in Cleveland. Rabil has no such problems with his image. And what an image it is, with the same sizzle as a Danica Patrick he even bared it all for ESPN The Magazine’s 2010 Body Issue (hello, ladies!).

Paul Rabil Changing the Game

Rabil is single-handedly changing the game of the Lacrosse much like Tiger Woods did for golf before Elin did him in with a 9 iron. Even as the weight of an entire sport rests upon him Rabil remains unfazed tirelessly working on improving his game. And although his 6’ 3” 220-lb frame seem more suited to the NFL his technical skills and stick work defy his hulking frame. This must be how he came to claim the world record for the fastest shot at a melon-crushing 111 mph. Yeah, that’s up there with the archery arrow and slap shot set.

Paul Rabil Quick Facts

  • A four-time All-American at Johns Hopkins University
  • NLL's Champions Cup Winner
  • 2009 Major League Lacrosse’s Most Valuable Player
  • Member of 2005 and the 2007 NCAA Division 1 Championship teams

Paul Rabil Q&A

We sat down with Rabil for a quick 10-question session after delicately removing the stick from his hand (last time we checked we couldn’t handle a Lacrosse ball to the face at 111 mph). 

Time to rally the masses. How would you describe lacrosse to someone who’s never seen a game? Which sports would you compare it to? And what are the best parts about the game?

Lacrosse is the fastest sport on two feet. It involves supreme athleticism, hand-eye coordination, the endurance of a soccer match, and the physicality of a football game, while accumulating higher scoring than a baseball game. I fell in love with the game because of the commonality it has with every other sport, while still creating the niche of its own. Not only is it the fastest sport on two feet, but it’s also the fastest growing sport in the world.

Why lacrosse? How did you get into the sport?

I played a lot of basketball and soccer growing up…still do. My neighborhood friends started picking up these lacrosse sticks and entering local leagues to play. They egged me on about it, and I gave it a shot and really struggled at first. Struggling in a sport was something new to me, and I wanted to get better. The more hours I put into getting better, the more passionate I was about making this sport my career.

You are one of the most proficient athletes in the game yet for all the immense athleticism required by this sport you place a higher emphasis on the technical aspects. Can you expand on that?

Athletes all over are beginning to play the game. What was once considered a sport where any size player can dominate, now, the clear and obvious advantages of size, athleticism and skill cannot be denied. That said, the technical aspects of lacrosse are still most important. The skill to cradle the ball, catch, throw and shoot can be very difficult. And to be successful, it’s not enough just to master that skill, but to be able to master it going full speed.

As a professional, seeing the opportunities grow makes me want to be a part of that, giving back to the youth and hoping they take the bull by the horns when my time is up.

How long have you been doing the Lacrosse clinics and why did you start? Can you also tell us a little bit about your upcoming Summer Camps?

I’ve been running my own series of clinics and camps for lacrosse since I graduated in 2008. The special thing about lacrosse, while continually growing, is the access the fans get to the professionals, and the willingness of the professionals to give back. The sport is still young enough to where the successful players can remember being a fan of the game when attendance was down, games weren’t on TV, and opportunities were limited. As a professional, seeing the opportunities grow makes me want to be a part of that, giving back to the youth and hoping they take the bull by the horns when my time is up.

This Summer I’ll be running a series of camps across the country, titled “Paul Rabil’s Lacrosse Showcase”. They’re typically 4-day camps that instruct players on technicalities of the game, how to adapt to your position, how to become an imaginative and creative player, then applying this to game-like situations. Lot’s of Red Bull prizes and giveaways!

At Johns Hopkins you were not only a two-time national champion but a two-time Dean’s List student. Can you describe the demands of being a national caliber athlete while still maintaining a 3.5 cumulative GPA?

Having to balance schoolwork with the demands of Coach Pietramala and Hopkins Lacrosse everyday could get hellish. Not only would I have to block out four hours a day, on top of classes, to practice with the team and watch film; but to be the best, I needed to block out another hour or two each day to workout on my own and develop my individual skill more than the next guy. I just became freakish about getting better at lacrosse, and couldn’t deal with any sub par efforts in any other arena, including academics.

At Johns Hopkins you wore number 9 and now in the MLL you wear number 99. Are you twice the player you were in college? In all seriousness is there a story behind the numbers?

I wore number 9 growing up playing lacrosse. My favorite player was Mark Millon. To those who know him, he was one of the quicker athletes to play the game. That said, he was much smaller: sort of like Barry Sanders. I’ve always wanted to showcase the moves he has, but doing it in a 6’3” 220-lb frame is a bit more difficult. I think I’m getting there… Regarding number 99: I was drafted by the Boston Cannons and was given relatively limited options on numbers. Tom Zummo already had number 9 and I didn’t feel like it was my position to ask for it from him. But I needed the 9’s, so I took number 99.

What’s it like being a Red Bull athlete?

Being a Red Bull athlete has been one of the best experiences of my life so far. All RB does is activate around my game, camps, clinics and appearances. The team shows nothing but the best support, creating posters, apparel, sick hats, sending wings girls with sugar free when requested, and sometimes just to surprise me at an event. The lacrosse world knows I’m on the RB team, and that this team gives me wings.

Anytime I’m compared to a guy like LeBron James from an athletically-gifted standpoint, it’s quite a compliment.

While it is the fastest growing sport in the world lacrosse has endured some scandals as of late. You’ve been described as a hero of sorts, the LeBron James of lacrosse. What it is like having the weight of an entire sport on your shoulders? How does that affect your game?

Anytime I’m compared to a guy like LeBron James from an athletically-gifted standpoint, it’s quite a compliment. He’s one of the best at what he does, and I like to think I continue to work hard each day to be one of the best at what I do. I measure success in championships, as I’m sure he does. That’s what I continue to do throughout my career, and nothing else really bothers me. One of my mottos to live by is, “Humble & Hungry”.

We read a New York Times article where someone suggested putting you in Dancing With the Stars. Are you down with that?

I think I’ve got some raw talent on the green… We’ll have to wait and see.

You’ve won the FIL World Championship, the MLL Nations Cup and been voted MVP. What else would you like to achieve on the field?

Pretty simple: one professional title has eluded me…the MLL Steinfeld Cup. I’ve won three times in high school, two times in college, the NLL and a World Championship. All eyes are now set on this one.

Your last name is Rabil, which sounds almost exactly like Red Bull. What would it take for you to legally change your name to Red Bull?

Let’s talk privately on this one. 


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