Toll honoured by nomination
A spot in the National Lacrosse League Hall of Fame would be the icing on the cake in legendary career for Steve Toll.
The 46-year-old St. Catharines native and coach of the St. Catharines Junior A Athletics is one of 20 players nominated for inclusion in the NLL Hall of Fame class of 2021. Inductees from among the group, which includes 17 all-time great players and three builders, will be announced in June with a ceremony planned for this fall.
“I’m not going to deny, I’d love to get in,” Toll said. “I won five championships and played in seven finals. I had a pretty good record that way. I thought I did my job, the role I had on my team, for as best as I could for as many years as I could.”
The class of 2021 will represent the first additions to the Hall since 2016. This year’s induction will also celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Hall’s establishment.
“I wasn’t sure actually how it works because they hadn’t inducted anyone in a while and I wasn’t sure if we had to officially retire or just quit playing,” Toll said. I wasn’t sure what was going on.”
Toll realizes he has stiff competition.
“When you look at those 20 guys and six get in, it’s going to be extremely tough for everyone on the votes,” he said. “We’ll see what happens. Either way, my family and I are extremely happy.”
There are four other players with ties to St. Catharines who have been nominated — Billy Dee Smith, Mike Accursi, Mark Steenhuis and Pat McCready.
“St. Catharines is well represented,” Toll said. “That as awesome. All those guys are so well deserving. Whatever happens, I’m sure they are in the same boat and happy to be there. It’s a great honour just to get the pat on the back and be nominated.
“All the St. Catharines guys won a lot of championships and hopefully a couple get in.”
Toll had a long and distinguished career, playing 14 seasons with Toronto, Rochester, San Jose, Colorado and Edmonton after being drafted in the sixth round of the 1997 Entry Draft. He is a five-time champion: four with Toronto (1999, 2000, 2002, 2003) and one with Rochester (2007). He was named the first winner of the Transition Player of the Year Award in 2007 and retired in the top 10 all-time with 1,562 loose ball recoveries in the regular season and an additional 160 in the playoffs. He also played in 188 consecutive games between 2000-2011, which ranks tied for the third longest streak of all-time. After retiring from the NLL in 2011, Toll served as the Director of Operations for teams in the Canadian Lacrosse League. Toll was inducted into the City of St. Catharines Hall of Fame in 2018.
Before turning pro, Toll had one of the greatest junior lacrosse careers in A’s history finishing his five-year tenure as the club’s as the all time leader in assists (355) and points (607) and was a member of the 1991 Minto Cup champions.
A two-time member of the Team Canada World Indoor Lacrosse Gold Medal Team, Toll coached the Mimico Mountaineers to a Minto Cup berth in 2017, finishing third in Canada before joining the A’s.
He had high hopes of leading the A’s to a Minto Cup in 2020 when the tournament was scheduled for St. Catharines, but the season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The league is hoping to run a showcase event in Oakville in August.
“It’s so frustrating,” he said. “You think you’re going to get something going and it feels like two years of doing circles.
“A guy like (A’s defender) Tom Whitty calls and says he just wants to put on the jersey one last time because he didn’t get to do it. He was robbed of it.”
Toll plans to continue his coaching career this winter with the NLL expansion Panther City Lacrosse Club as defensive coach.
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