On a football field, the tight end plays a vital role in the offense as someone who can help open up holes for the running back, blocking in pass protection, and also being an important weapon by catching passes and sometimes scoring touchdowns. In box lacrosse, there is a similar position, kind of like a power forward in basketball. It’s a player who can clear the way for the offensive players to do their thing but that player can also light the lamp by putting the ball in the back of the net.
When the Riptide selected forward Tyler Digby from the New England Black Wolves in the 9th round of the NLL Expansion Draft, they found their “tight end” and “power forward” and another key veteran that will help lead the way during the Riptide’s inaugural season.
“I’m extremely happy to be a part of the Riptide,” said Digby, a native of New Westminster, British Columbia. “It’s somewhat of a new adventure and so far, it’s been very good. I think we are farther ahead than maybe what I would have thought at this point. I’m really happy with our team chemistry.”
Over six previous NLL seasons, Digby racked up 151 goals and 192 assists for 343 points over 102 games. Last season with New England, he scored 27 goals to go along with 45 assists for 72 points in 17 games for the Black Wolves. Sometimes he doesn’t show up in the scoresheet on a goal but he still played a roll in it by clearing space.
What can fans expect to see?
“Someone that is physical and uses that physicality as a very good tool to help our offense,” said the 28-year-old Digby. “One of the things that I pride myself on is opening up the floor for my teammates and understanding our roles on offense. We’ve done a really good job of that so far and buying into the system.”
Digby played college lacrosse at Robert Morris College from 2010 to 2013 scoring 40 goals to go along with 31 assists for 71 points in 54 games. He also played tight end in football for the Colonials. In 35 career football games he had 20 receptions for 234 yards and five touchdowns. After college Digby was drafted by the Canadian Football League but chose to start a career in lacrosse.
The Riptide staff was thrilled to add his scoring punch, physical play and leadership to the mix for 2019-20.
“He’s a proven offensive presence in this league scoring a good amount of points,” said Riptide General Manager and Head Coach Regy Thorpe. “He’s a big body. He’s making his own offense but he’s also creating a lot of offense for the other offensive players. His leadership, not only in the locker room but on the floor has been awesome for our group, especially the younger offensive guys.
What was also attractive about Digby to the Riptide is his shooting percentage. Last season with New England, he had a shooting percentage of .260 and scored 27 goals on 79 shots. It was the fourth time in his career that Digby had a shooting percentage of more than 25 percent.
His shot and his physicality will be a big part of the Riptide.
“He had one of the better shooting percentages in the league,” said Thorpe. “To be north of that 25 percent is always good. That means he’s taking quality shots and making the most of them. He loves to bump bodies. He’s been good at creating space and getting some bumps. He’s also a guy that’s not really going to back down from too many people.”
On an expansion team, it’s important to have a good group of veteran players to help lead the way for the rookies. Digby, along with other players like John Ranagan, Connor Kelly, Kieran McCardle and Dan MacRae, have all bought into their leadership roles. As far as Digby is concerned, it’s kind of like having a coach on the field.
“It’s a big role,” said Digby. “I’ve embraced it more than what I’ve had to in the past. I think it’s really fun. I love coaching. I’ve coached high school lacrosse for a few years and I really enjoy teaching or us as a group understanding what it takes and some of the finer points that really make you a successful team.”
The Riptide are gearing up for their season opener on December 7th on the road against the Halifax Thunderbirds. After two more road games, the Riptide will play their home opener on Saturday December 28th against the Saskatchewan Rush at Nassau Coliseum. The game will mark the return of professional box lacrosse to Long Island for the first time since 2007.
Digby is thrilled to be a part of it.
“I think that’s awesome,” said Digby. “(Long Island) definitely has a rich lacrosse history and I really can’t wait to get going and bring those old fans and new fans in together and hopefully we have a successful first season here.”
Tyler Digby brings a physical element to the Riptide. The veteran forward will create space for his teammates but will also utilize his pinpoint shot to get on the scoresheet. Just like a tight end in football, he’ll be physical but he’ll also join in with the offense.
“I like to score a little bit too,” said Digby.
Sounds like Tyler Digby is going to be an immediate Riptide fan favorite!