Buffalo Bandits Captain Leads by Example

If you look up ‘captain’ in the dictionary, you will not see Chris White’s name or face. But you might once you read the definition of the word because he is certainly ‘one who leads’.

Although the Buffalo Bandits captain and three-time NLL All-Star is tied for the league-lead amongst defensemen with nine assists, he seems to fly under the radar most nights.

“Whitey is a lot like me,” said Bandits assistant coach Rich Kilgour. “A quiet, unsung guy that does a lot of things behind the scenes.”

Kilgour played his entire 18-year career as a defenseman with the Bandits before retiring in 2009, serving as team captain for the last 12 years of his tenure. He played with White for five of those seasons and said that handing the ‘C’ over to him was quite the honor.

“It’s an honor for me to follow in Richie’s footsteps,” White said with admiration. “It’s a tough job to follow, that’s for sure.”

As Buffalo’s defensive coach, Kilgour could not say enough about what White brings to the field.

“He’s a shutdown ‘D’ guy and definitely one of our top defensemen. He picks up a loose ball, pumps it up and just does his job. When you do your job, good things are going to happen, and that’s Chris White to a T,” said Kilgour, who certainly knows his ABC’s as far as lacrosse goes.

“He’s a smart guy and a lot of his assists come from starting a good, crisp breakout,” he added.

Speaking of which, Scott Self’s breakaway goal to win the Buffalo Bandits home opener against the Toronto Rock was arguably the most memorable moment of the 2011 season thus far. The crowd of 16,685 at HSBC Arena erupted in celebration after his overtime winner, but Self didn’t have to do it all by himself.

After grabbing a loose ball in front of the Bandits net, White sent his fellow defenseman off to the races with a beautiful lead pass that bounced several times ahead of the play. The rest is history.

Steve Bermel went to his first Bandits game in 1995 and has been a season ticket holder since 2006. He has covered the team for ILindoor.com for the past three years.

Bermel agreed with Kilgour’s assertion that White is an unsung hero. He said that not hearing White’s name much might be one of his best qualities, as his quiet leadership exemplifies a certain discipline in his game.

“He’s a great defender and when you do hear a defenseman’s name, it’s usually because they are getting a penalty,” Bermel pointed out. “White’s physical, tough to get around and leads more so on the field by giving 100 percent out there.”

With only eight penalty minutes on the season, White is tied with Chris Corbeil for fewest PIM amongst defensemen appearing in at least half of Buffalo’s ten games. Ironically enough, he did take home the distinction of receiving the lone penalty in last month’s All-Star Game, as he was assessed a two-minute minor for cross-checking.

White was chosen 20th overall in the 2001 NLL Entry Draft. He played his first league game in 2003 and was traded to Buffalo for a first-round draft pick in late 2004. Because of his defensive role, he has scored just three goals with the Bandits, all of which came in the 2008 championship season.

However, he has registered a career-high nine assists in 2011 and still has six games to add to that total. Having already corralled 56 loose balls this year, it seems likely that the Bandit will also eclipse his career-best 67 LB’s from last season.

White wanted the fans to know that he appreciates the tremendous support that the local community has shown the Bandits over the years.

“It’s amazing, you don’t get this anywhere else in the league,” he said proudly. “Playing in front of that many people dressed in orange, you know you’re well-supported and with everyone cheering for you, it’s a great feeling.”

I’d define a team captain as someone who sacrifices themselves for the greater good, regardless of whether their name shows up on the scoresheet. Goals win games, but defense wins championships.

Because number 6 for Buffalo plays the game solely for the name on the front of his jersey, the Bandits colors truly are black, orange, violet and White.