Tugboat Tyrell waded through a six-minute interview before finding his sea legs, dispatching the quip seconds before shipping off to San Diego.
“I’m 26 and bulletproof,” Tyrell Hamer-Jackson, a defender for the Vancouver Warriors, said with a laugh when asked to confirm his age.
“It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been waiting for this for a while. Almost 600 days without lacrosse is pretty weird for a guy like me.”
The National Lacrosse League season gets underway on Friday and opening day features a clash between the Warriors and hometown San Diego Seals, a 7 p.m. start.
Hamer-Jackson, a faceoff specialist from Kamloops who was passed over in the 2016 NLL Entry Draft and cut from multiple Warriors’ training camps, took a year off from the game in 2019 and contemplated not returning.
The tugboat deckhand who toils on the Fraser River decided to give it another shot. He worked his tail off to lose about 40 pounds and signed to play for the senior A New Westminster Salmonbellies during the 2020 Western Lacrosse Association campaign.
Then his phone rang.
Warriors’ faceoff man Bob Snider suffered a knee injury during a game against visiting San Diego on Feb. 22, 2020, and Vancouver general manager Dan Richardson was calling.
Hamer-Jackson’s trial by fire in the NLL began against visiting Georgia on Feb. 29, 2020, in front of 8,250 fans at Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver, drawing against Jordan MacIntosh, the Swarm captain and nine-year veteran.
MacIntosh finished 15-for-22 in faceoffs. Hamer-Jackson was 9-for-24. Georgia doubled Vancouver 14-7.
The Kamloops product’s second game, against hometown Saskatchewan on March 7, 2020, in Saskatoon, pitted him against Jeremy Thompson in front of 11,632 fans.
Hamer-Jackson, who stands 5-foot-6 and weighs 200 pounds, upped his winning percentage, finishing 7-for-19. Saskatchewan won 17-7.
“Buddy, it’s tough,” Hamer-Jackson, a Kamloops Minor Lacrosse Association product, told KTW when the pandemic arrived in time to cull the remainder of the 2020 campaign.
“I’ve wanted this forever. It’s a dream come true.”
The dream was put on hold after two games and was further delayed when the 2021 season was cancelled.
Hamer-Jackson, no sure thing to crack the Warriors’ squad this season, fought for his roster spot during a six-week training camp and three exhibition games.
“There were a couple guys coming for my spot, but I put in the work in the off-season and did my thing, got the ball for my team and that’s where we sit right now,” said Hamer-Jackson, whose Warriors have qualified for the playoffs once in the past seven seasons.
“I had a little taste of it and I knew how bad I wanted it, so I stayed in the gym and took it to the next level with my fitness.”
Hamer-Jackson’s TikTok account exploded when he began posting clips of his activity on the water, which includes log-running prowess, wildlife encounters and a video of him shirtless listening to Money for Nothing by Dire Straits while operating a watercraft and dancing.
The account — tyrellhj — has 251,000 followers and 5.7 million likes.
He has big plans for his faceoff-percentage numbers this season, too.
“I’d like to hang around the 65- to 75-per-cent range,” Hamer-Jackson said. “Fifty-five per cent is doing my job, but like I said before, I don’t really like that number.
“The more we get the ball, the more shots we get and the more the goal scorers get to put that ball in the net.”
Hamer-Jackson, who was in the airport in Richmond on Thursday while talking to KTW, thanked several of his lacrosse mentors for their support, including Ray Porcellato, Dan Peterson, Steve Goodwin and the late Justin Bosher, before catching the flight to San Diego.
“It’s more surreal that we’re actually doing it now,” he said. “It’s happening, so here we go.”