Rigger thrown in fire

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:10 AM ET

It's easy to forget the part-time nature of the National Lacrosse League.

The Calgary Roughnecks and their fans were reminded of that this week when it was announced defender Travis Gillespie had been lost to the team for the remainder of the season -- but not because of injury.

The 26-year-old Gillespie -- who was third among Calgary defenders with 11 points -- has been hired by the Coquitlam, B.C., fire department and will start his one-year probationary period in three weeks.

"It happened very quickly," said Gillespie.

"Way faster than I had expected. We had just lost to San Jose in overtime (two weeks ago) and I flew back the next day for an interview and the next day I was hired.

"I was still upset about that San Jose loss but on the other hand it hit me -- this is what I've wanted to do since I was little kid.

"Now, I have an actual bonafide career."

Unable to risk injury while getting his foot in the door, Gillespie was forced to make a tough choice.

"It did leave a mixed taste in my mouth," said Gillespie. "I love playing lacrosse but I have to think about my future and this is a great chance."

Gillespie hopes to play next year but his probation will keep him sidelined until late in the 2007 season.

"Hopefully, if they want me back, I could play some of the last few games of the season and maybe the playoffs," said Gillespie.

"I hope so, because playing lacrosse is a dream, too."

The 6-ft. 220-lb. former first-round pick has been impressive for the Roughnecks this season, playing solid defence and providing a threat on the transition.

Gillespie's situation is nearly identical to former Roughnecks forward John Olson, who was unavailable to the team for the 2003 season after also being hired by the Coquitlam fire department.

"A lot of guys turn down careers and opportunities to keep playing," said Gillespie.

"Everything kinds of gets put on hold. We're just regular guys who love to play lacrosse."

Gillespie's spot on the 23-man roster was filled by Calgary native Jeremy Cheyne, who was moved from the practice roster.


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