A year ago, Jason Bloom had yet to appear in his first game for the Stealth. He was recently traded from the Boston Blazers to the newly-relocated Washington Stealth, which was set to play just 30 miles from his Mercer Island home. He was excited to play for a Stealth team that he knew was a good squad after playing against them in each of his first three years in the league. He was excited to play with Stealth captain Colin Doyle, a player Bloom had looked up to for a long time and played with in the Western Lacrosse Association in British Columbia. He was excited to play so close to home.
It’s been an interesting year for Jason Bloom.
Bloom came into the NLL as a free agent with the Colorado Mammoth in 2006. He had spent his entire lacrosse career on the offensive side of the ball, playing strictly offense as a youngster in Canada and playing offensive midfield in college at Ohio State University.
“My first years in Colorado there was a lot of offensive talent on the team,” said Bloom, reminiscing about his first two seasons in the NLL on a Mammoth squad that featured the likes of Gavin Prout and Brian Langtry. “My role was to bang and crash, not score goals. It’s ugly, but I enjoy that style of play.”
He played in 19 games in his two seasons with Colorado, tallying seven goals and 15 assists. The Mammoth played just one playoff game during that time, missing the playoffs altogether in 2008.
Bloom was traded to the expansion Boston Blazers prior to the 2009 season and in a new-found role as a transition player, enjoyed a career season, playing in all 16 regular season games. He set career-highs with 13 goals, 10 assists, 23 points and 60 loose balls.
“I was converted to more of a transition player in Boston,” said Bloom, who was traveling to Boston from Seattle every week for games. “Really for the first time, I would play defensive shifts and push the ball up the floor when the opportunity presented itself.”
But for the second time in Bloom’s three-year career, his team was ousted in the opening round of the playoffs. In July of 2009, Bloom was traded from Boston to the Stealth.
A year ago, Bloom was heading into his first training camp with the Stealth as he had always gone into camp: excited for the season to begin again and ready to bang and crash. From the first day of training camp, he could see the Stealth’s potential.
“It wasn’t like we knew it would be a championship season right off the bat,” Bloom said. “But you could see we had the pieces. We were really deep.”
And that was before the 11-time All-Pro Doyle was at camp. As it turned out, Doyle was traded back to his hometown Toronto Rock after the first weekend of training camp. While Bloom was disappointed to see a player the caliber of Doyle leave town, he was ecstatic to see the pieces the Stealth received in return.
Two players with Ohio State ties in Lewis Ratcliff and Joel Dalgaro and one of the league’s brightest young defensemen Tyler Codron were on their way to Washington, adding even more depth to the squad.
“Everyone knew what kind of talent Lewis [Ratcliff] had and Joel [Dalgarno] and Tyler [Codron] were two young guys with tons of potential,” said Bloom. “[The trade] added a different look to our team. We had all these talented pieces, it was exciting to watch it all come together.”
In order for “it all to come together”, there were a number of things that needed to be done in camp. First of all, some roles needed to be defined. Bloom, who had an offensive mindset throughout his lacrosse life, was asked to take on a more defensive role for the Stealth.
“I had a good talk with the coaching staff,” said Bloom. “Our offense was stacked on the right side with Jeff Zywicki, Rhys Duch and Luke Wiles. It hurt the pride a bit to say I shouldn’t be out there, but what are we supposed to do, keep one of those guys on the bench so I could play offense?”
Bloom gladly accepted his new role as a defense-first transition player, acknowledging that it was best to leave the goal scoring to the guys who do it better than most.
Second, the captain’s chair was now empty with the absence of Doyle, who wore the ‘C’ for the Stealth in each of the previous three seasons. Perhaps it was Bloom’s willingness to accept a defensive role, or his demeanor on and off the floor, but prior to the team’s first game in Washington, the Stealth coaches named Bloom the team’s captain.
“I was very excited. It was a huge opportunity,” said Bloom. “Doyle left some huge shoes to fill. Having played with him I know he was one of the best leaders in the league. But it was a chance for me to see what I was made of.”
Bloom had a different style as captain than that of his predecessor. “I’m not overly vocal,” he said. “I’m not a huge rah-rah guy. I try to lead by example. We have a lot of leaders on our team; it’s not about wearing a letter. Wearing a letter or not, I don’t want to change the way I play.”
The rest is history. The Stealth went on to the top overall seed in the playoffs and won the team’s first NLL title in dramatic fashion with a 15-11 victory over the Toronto Rock. As the Stealth captain, Bloom was the first to hoist the Champion’s Cup.
“Standing on that stage, I was just trying to take it all in,” Bloom said about the moment when his lacrosse dreams became a reality. “You never know if you will get back there. I pictured playing as a kid and all the hard work it took to get to that moment. And to get there with that group of guys made it even more special. All the blood, sweat and tears we put into it was worth it.”
The offseason was a bit different than others for Bloom. He took a little longer to bask in the glory of winning the championship. He returned to his “normal” life with his young family. He returned to his day job in real estate with GVA Kidder Matthews in Bellevue, where he dons a suit daily, not just on game day. He’s doing some coaching with local youth lacrosse players at the Stealth Lacrosse Academy. All the while, he continues to reflect on an incredible year.
And Today, over a year after he made his first appearance as a member of the Stealth pouring root beer floats at an Everett Aquasox game, he’s ready to get back on the floor and defend the NLL title.
“I’m itching to get to camp and prepare to defend our championship,” he said. “And we brought in a lot of great new pieces to do it. It’s going to be tough, but I know that the guys are all looking forward to the challenge.”
That challenge begins with training camp in December, followed by the start of the NLL’s 25th season in January. The Stealth travels to Colorado on January 8, followed the next night by the home opener against Calgary. Until then, here are some more questions that will help you “Get to Know” Stealth Captain Jason Bloom.
What’s your favorite way to pass the time with your teammates on a road trip?
Bloom: There’s a couple of things that I like doing on the road… I’m pretty known around the Nintendo 64 circles as being the champ when it comes to Mariokart and a couple rooks (Beers and Dalgarno) continue to take shots at the title. I don’t want it to get out how much they lost, but put it this way- Dal and Beersie not only lost most of their salary to me last year, but have been rumored to be cutting grass in B.C all summer to pay off their remaining debts. At least Hartzell and Wiles have enough veteran savvy to walk away from a sure thing. I also like keeping a close eye on Jamison on the road. He’s been known to show up for games with too little caffeine in his system, so being a good teammate, I make sure that I sneak a 5 hour energy into his coffee on the way to the game. I hope he doesn’t read this…I definitely don’t want to wake the giant. I have seen what happens to him when something as small as Syracuse losing a basketball game, and want no piece of it…
What is your favorite restaurant?
Bloom: I can tell you Lewis’ favorite restaurant…Cheesecake Factory. As soon as the wheels touch down in flight to Colorado, or he gets in town to Seattle, I religiously hear “Bloomer…Cheesecake Factory sounds pretty good right about now, eh”. Not a question, a definite statement. Ratty is a physical specimen though, so what he wants at Cheesecake Factory, and what I want at Cheesecake Factory are two completely different things. It’s a confidence crusher eating with him…he’ll crush a salad (minus all the good things- bacon, cheese, etc.) and you have no other feeling than feel like a big mess for even considering a chicken parm and maybe a little dessert. He loves the place…not once a day, minimum 2 times a day. Game day, practice day, late night, breakfast….same salad, every time. If I were Cheesecake Factory, I’d raise the prices on that salad anytime Lew came in. He’d pay it too! I don’t have a favorite restaurant really…Thai food is probably my favorite right now, in Bellevue there’s Chantanee, which has a phenomenal Pad Thai. Can’t go wrong with ribs though either.
Do you have any pregame rituals?
Bloom: I’m big on naps, especially last year as my son was less than a year old. My little guy is sleeping through the nights now, so I’ll probably rely less on the 3 hour “naps” this year, but last season, it was crucial. Jamison, who is my roommate on the road, regularly chirped me that I could not stay up past 10:30 or 11:00pm the night before a game, which for the most part, was right. For the most part, I’m pretty laid back, but on game days, I turn into a bit of a head case. I don’t have any particular foods that I try to eat, but I eat fairly light, and probably 5 or 6 hours before out game. I’ll crush a nap, lots of fluids (which includes pickle juice for cramping), then typically make coffee and mix in 5 hour energy or two for Jamison and I. I like being early to the games, chirp a little with whoever is reffing that night, and just prepare mentally for what’s about to take place. I’m leaving a few superstitions out, but nothing too exciting.
What are your three favorite movies?
Bloom: Tough one, but Slapshot is definitely #1 and #1a. Caddyshack is up there. If the Vancouver Canucks ever won the cup, and they made a movie out of it, that would compete with Slapshot.
One Canadian lacrosse word that every American lacrosse player should know?
Bloom: Grocery Stick- the grocery stick is a player on the bench that isn’t getting any shifts and isn’t moving on the bench, he’s just standing there, separating the forwards from the defensemen. Just like the grocery stick that separates your groceries from someone else’s at the check-out. Heard that first out of (new Philly Wing) Paul Dawson’s mouth, and couldn’t help but cracking up with laughter.
Greatest moment of your lacrosse career?
Bloom: Winning the NLL Championship last year. Standing with my teammates and lifting the trophy for the first time is something that I will never forget.
Which member of the Stealth is the best dresser?
Bloom: Another tough one…we’re not good dressers. I can easily tell you who’s the worst though, but Rabil, Sedgie and Duchie all probably take the title of best dressed when the suits come out. On a side note, Artie (our D coach) paid me to vote for him. Sorry Artie, it would have been too obvious if I voted for you!
If you could have any superpower what would it be?
Bloom: Easy…if I could have any power, it would be hitting a golf ball straight. Or at least consistently hit a fade/draw/slice or duck hook, as I’d be able to incorporate that consistent fade/draw/slice/duck hook into my game. Love playing, but my game is in shambles right now.