McNish awaits call to arms

DARREN FRIESEN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:01 AM ET

Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and Ryan McNish?

While the last name doesn't really belong in the same breath as two of baseball's greatest legends, the Calgary Roughnecks defender could soon share a similar fate.

With the war in Afghanistan dragging on, McNish, a helicopter technician with the 408 Tactical Squadron based out of CFB Edmonton, could soon get the call for an overseas assignment in the hotspot.

And similar to Teddy Ball Game and Joltin' Joe, McNish could be forced to miss a year of action from the sport he loves most -- lacrosse.

"If I was told I was going to have to do a nine-month tour, the biggest thing I'd be missing is lacrosse," said McNish, 26. "You go over there for nine months and your house is still going to be here and, realistically, it's only nine months out of your life but I hate the thought of having to miss an entire season."

The Roughnecks still have sixth months before the start of the campaign, right around the time McNish is expected to learn more about his possible deployment.

"There's no immediate plan to head anywhere before the lacrosse season but we're on high readiness starting in January," he said. "So what that entails is any time there is a conflict around the world and there's helicopters to be sent, we're the first ones to go. That's about all the info that I have right now."

Having been in the army since he was 17, McNish said he's ready to finally put all his training to good use.

"I have the same view as most guys in the military. We train for so long to get to go on a mission like this. You want to go overseas and use that training that you've been working towards for so long," said the 6-ft. 2-in., 230-lb., Winnipeg native.

"For me, I've been training for seven years for a mission like this. I can definitely see a tour in Afghanistan in my near future.

"But I would hate to not play lacrosse. That would be frustrating. It's not just the sport itself but it's being with the guys. Having that home away from home and the camaraderie ... it's great."

With the recent deaths of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, McNish said the morale around CFB Edmonton has been sour, especially among those who knew the fallen.

"I personally didn't know any of them but, being in the military, especially in Edmonton, you're one big family so if you didn't know (a fallen soldier) the next guy beside you did," said McNish.

"It hits close to home because we're in the military but when you've spent time, trained and spent time in the trenches with these guys it hurts." added McNish.

As far as keeping the Roughnecks on alert status, he's talked to general manager Kurt Silcott and basically told him 'when I know, you'll know.'


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