Gait's benched these days

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:12 PM ET

When you're one of the best in the history of your sport, walking away can be tough.

Retiring and then un-retiring is as trendy as Pumas and iPods.

Michael Jordan and Mario Lemieux left but came back for another crack.

Other superstars such as John Elway and Wayne Gretzky were able to walk away for good.

Gary Gait insists he'll be part of the latter group.

Gait retired at the end of last season as the National Lacrosse League's all-time scoring leader and traded his stick and helmet for a suit and tie as he became the Colorado Mammoth's head coach.

Gait has spent eight games behind the bench, so far, and said the transition hasn't been difficult for him.

"It hasn't been tough because I like coaching," said Gait, whose Colorado Mammoth take on the Calgary Roughnecks tonight (7:30 p.m., 'Dome). "I enjoy it and I knew I did. When the opportunity to coach came up, I was all for it and I knew what I was getting into and what I was giving up. So, it's been easy for me."

So there hasn't been an itch at all? No urge to grab a stick and go out there and just do it yourself?

"No," said the 38-year-old Gait, who is also a player-coach with the Baltimore Bayhawks in the summer professional outdoor league. "Not at all."

Along with twin brother Paul, the Gaits became the faces of lacrosse over the last 20 years. The twins from Victoria attended Syracuse University and even graced the pages of Sports Illustrated in the '80s.

The two played their first season in the NLL back in 1991 with the defunct Detroit Turbos.

Injuries forced Paul to hang up his stick after the 2002 season but he returned late last year to reunite with Gary and try to win a championship as their swansong.

The Mammoth ended up losing to the Arizona Sting in the West Division semifinal. Colorado fired coach Jamie Batley after the loss and Gait became the bench boss, moving his family from their home in Baltimore to The Mile High City.

This season, the Mammoth are 5-3 under Gait's leadership and riding a three-game winning streak.

Tonight's clash is the first of three tilts between the rivals this season.

"It's the first of three big games and we're going into the home stretch," said Gait. "It's the second half of the season. Calgary, us and Arizona are right there in the mix. It's a tight division and it's going to come down to the wire.

"This game is huge for the standings and moving forward to kick off the second half of the season."

Gait also praised Bandits superstar John Tavares, who broke his all-time NLL scoring record last Saturday.

"I was happy for him, it's great," said Gait. "He's one of the best of all time. I'm sure he'll continue to build on that for a while. I think he has a few more years, at least, left in him."


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