TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 2012
Oh, Mann, he's fitting in just fine
All Cameron Mann wanted to do was fit in.

As he made his way south from his Canadian roots to the new men’s lacrosse program at Jacksonville University a couple of years ago, he wasn’t sure if he would “just be one of the guys.’’

Turns out, the junior was worrying needlessly. He fits in and has become the face of the lacrosse program, school record holder and maybe the best of all … well, he won’t go that far.

“When I came here I didn’t know what it was going to be like because it was a new program,’’ he said. “Usually when you go to school as a freshman you’ve got to sit a couple of years and watch and take everything in. Coming in as a freshman in a new program I got to start right away.’’

That was nice … but …

“I didn’t know what the other guys were going to be like,’’ he said. “I didn’t know how good I was going to be or how I was going to fit in with my teammates and the new coaches and it’s been great so far.’’

Mann, from Hamilton, Ontario, has fit in by making his mark. Literally. He has scored a point (either a goal or assist) in every, yes, every, game in which this school has played men’s lacrosse. Thirty-six in a row.

Last week against VMI he became the first player in school history to go over 100 career points (he has 103 on 48 goals and 55 assists) and this year he leads the team in scoring with 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists).

Somehow, he has remained remarkably humble through it all.

“I never thought about the point streak thing until the last couple of weeks when people have been saying things to me,’’ Mann said. “I didn’t know I was close to 100 points. It is cool and it is milestones I am proud of and I know my family is proud of it but, like I said, when it comes down to it it’s about winning championships, hopefully we’ll get that.’’

We’re sorry, say that again. In this era of “me first’’ athletics, can you repeat that?

“I try not to pay attention to the individual stuff because when it comes down to it all I really want is to win the MAAC (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) and see our team do well,’’ he said. “I try not to worry about what I’ve been doing as long as I’m helping the team win.’’

Coach Guy Van Arsdale, who doesn’t do much to hide his admiration for Mann, says the midfielder’s reaction is no surprise.

“He’s probably the last guy who would give anything like that much thought,’’ Van Arsdale said. Mann took the long route to get to JU. After graduating high school in Canada he wasn’t getting many recruiting looks and decided to head to the Salisbury School in Connecticut to a.) play lacrosse and b.) work on improving some of his high school grades.

“I wasn’t a bad student,’’ he said. “I didn’t do awful in high school but I definitely could have done better. I didn’t really apply myself.’’

Two years at Salisbury got him a.) more lacrosse time, hence, more recruiting looks and b.) grades good enough to give him the equivalent to a couple of post graduate studies.

“Coming out of high school I didn’t really know what I was going to do,’’ he said. “So, I took the long path and did a couple more years and came down to the states and I knew I wanted to just play lacrosse, but back home it’s different playing college lacrosse.’’

And it was off to Florida and now, perhaps, the best player this school has ever seen.

“I would never say that whether it was true or not,’’ Mann said. “I could really not do anything without my teammates a lot of the times. I’m not much of a dodger and scorer, a lot of times it’s them finding me open or me finding them. Without someone helping me along, I wouldn’t be where I am.’’

It also helps, he says, getting off to a fast start in games.

“Right before the game I try to think about what’s going to happen, what the game is going to be like, but once you get out there you’ve got to go with what the defense gives you and we have a game plan so you try to execute that, kind of hope for the best,’’ he said. “It’s always nice if I can get a big play early, whether it’s a goal or assist or a big ground ball, it just keeps my mind in it. It always helps your confidence a lot.’’

- Jim Nasella