Rochester, N.Y. - The Rochester Knighthawks announced today that forward Tommy McKee has agreed to a one-year deal. McKee comes to Rochester after playing for the Vancouver Stealth.
McKee spent the first quarter of the 2017 season with the Stealth, making his National Lacrosse League debut on Jan. 6 in Calgary. Against the Roughnecks, he posted an impressive one goal and two assists in a 12-11 victory. Playing in his first NLL game was a dream that was 12 years in the making for the Holt, Mich. native.
"I saw the NLL on a local Comcast station and I knew that's the lacrosse I wanted to play," said McKee, who was in seventh grade the first time he saw box lacrosse.
The righty forward now has the opportunity to build on last year's success after signing with the Knighthawks.
"I can't wait. I feel so much more comfortable now that I have had some regular season game experience," he said. "I am just really looking forward to the opportunity to compete. Hopefully, I can show the Knighthawks that I am a guy worth keeping around, and that I can be a difference maker during the season."
Prior to playing in the NLL, McKee was a four-year standout at the United States Air Force Academy (USAF). With the Falcons, McKee established himself as one of the program's top offensive players. At the time of his graduation in 2014, he was second in team history in goals (97), third in goals per game (1.76) and fourth in points (121).
As a senior, he was named the co-winner of the team's Unsung Hero Award after playing in the final seven games of the season, the ECAC championship, and NCAA tournament with a fibula broken in two spots. McKee finished the year second on the team in goals (32) and third in points (43). He also earned Second Team All-ECAC honors and played in the North-South Senior All-Star Game.
"I loved it," he said about playing for Air Force. "It was unbelievable. The bond that we had as a team was second to none. Some of those guys are my best friends for life. That was a great experience and I wouldn't trade it for the world."
At the Air Force Academy, McKee also found an advocate for the NLL in head coach Eric Seremet, who played in the pro indoor league for seven seasons. It was because of his advice that McKee first tried out for an NLL team in 2015, attending the Colorado Mammoth's training camp.
"My coach in college had some experience playing in the NLL and he thought my game would translate well (to the box game)," said McKee. "He said I should give it a shot and off we went."
McKee, now a U.S. Air Force first lieutenant, has attended NLL camps the past two years. Prior to the 2017 season, he was an invitee of the Vancouver Stealth. This time, McKee made the roster to become the first Air Force Academy product to earn a full-time NLL spot.
By signing the 25-year-old, the Knighthawks are bringing to camp a prolific scorer who can also play physical. The 5-10, 185-pound forward, in fact, prefers the physical aspect of the game. In college, it was not uncommon for him to lead his team in hits, despite playing at attack.
His toughness, combined with his lacrosse IQ and offensive skills, are what convinced the Knighthawks to give him a shot this season.
"He's super athletic and is in fantastic shape, and is a fast player who is not afraid to go to the tough spots (on the floor)," said Knighthawks assistant coach Mike Accursi. "He likes banging bodies and we need a guy like that on our roster to help free up guys like Dan Dawson, Joe Resetarits and Josh Currier. He is going to create space for those guys, and can finish when given the opportunity. We are looking for him to come into camp and prove he belongs on the 2017-18 roster."