There will always be doubters. There have been countless people that say, we are stealing money, we don’t really help people, and how can you ask for money during a pandemic. No matter what you do in life- there will always be people that try and bring you down- I wish someone had told me from the start to use this as fuel.
I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Dan Lomas, forward for the New York Riptide of the National Lacrosse League, the largest and most successful professional lacrosse property in the world. A four-year NLL veteran, Lomas was selected in the second round (16th overall) in the 2016 NLL Entry Draft after attending High Point University. Recently, Dan founded Fund The Grind, a campaign raising money for small businesses in Ontario affected by the pandemic.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to your career path in professional sports?
For me- sports are something that has always been a part of my life. Growing up as the youngest of three brothers- learning to take a beating from a young age was inevitable. My earliest memories are being thrown in the net in the backyard, spending hours with my brothers. We’d pretend it was overtime in the Stanley Cup final or a big lacrosse game and count down the seconds in slow motion to score the winning goal. As the youngest, I was blessed with the opportunity to watch my brothers Dave and Mike work hard and lead. Both of them had long careers in the Ontario Hockey League and I believe strongly influenced my desire to play at the next level. I remember telling myself daily when shooting in the backyard or going to the gym, ‘I’m not going to be the brother that couldn’t play. To this day- I don’t think they know how much their success motivated me to put in the work to reach the next level. I was a bit of a late bloomer but I feel my time at High Point University under the watchful eye of Jon Torpey ultimately led to my readiness to play at the professional level.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What were the lessons or takeaways that you took out of that story?
For me- I think the most interesting thing that’s happened in my career is failure. After spending my first two seasons in Rochester I signed with Vancouver. Going into the season- excitement was an understatement. I was on Cloud Nine. Moving across the country, living in a condo above Rogers arena with a view of the mountains and a brand new team owned by the NHL’s Canucks Sports & Entertainment. During my time here I learned the meaning of hard work- I always thought I was working hard, but I learned in Vancouver that I had another level. The reason I realized this was because quite simply put I played some of the worst lacrosse I’ve ever played. I was lost mentally, physically and emotionally. I felt alone across the country and I lost my love for the game. I was ultimately released from my contract and sent home to Ontario. This was the lowest point of my life. I stepped away from the game for a while and soon realized I was much more than an athlete. I’m a person, a brother, an uncle and a friend. It wasn’t until I took a step back from the game that I realized how much I loved it. From then on I vouched to myself to work harder than I ever had, to do things other players may not be willing to do, to ensure I would never have an ounce of regret.
What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?
To be quite honest- in my mind success takes so many forms. For me — success was proving to myself I can play with the best players in the world. The biggest piece of advice that fuels me to this day is to embrace paranoia. Now, that may sound strange- trust me, I know. While attending High Point University to play lacrosse we were fortunate enough to have a very high-level executive from Wall Street speak to us and he mentioned something that stuck with me. He said, “You must embrace paranoia. You must embrace that feeling that there is someone out there that is doing something you are not doing today to get better- this will push you to do everything imaginable to improve.” Like I said earlier, I always thought I worked hard. But this paranoia pushed me to another level. Embracing this paranoia is something that can push anyone to the next level in my mind.
Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?
For me, this person is Coach Jon Torpey. He paved a life for me without me even really being aware of it. Not only did Jon give me the opportunity to see the world, play Division I Lacrosse and improve as a lacrosse player- he became a father figure to me. Jon provided my life with structure, rules, higher standards and dedication. He taught me the importance of tucking in your chair, cleaning up after yourselves and treating every person you meet equally.
I’ll never forget the memories over the years playing for Coach Torpey at High Point- but what stands out most to me is what he did for me after school. During the struggles with the love of the game during my time in Vancouver, Jon went out of his way to contact me. I verbalized my struggles to him. I told him how horrible everything was and that because of my lack of performance on the floor the rest of my life was suffering. He told me exactly what I needed to hear. “It’s just a game. You are more than a lacrosse player. You are a son, a brother, an uncle and a friend. Don’t ever forget that.” Hearing this brought me back to earth. It opened my eyes and made me realize- in its simplest form it is just a game- and that’s how I embrace every day playing it now. I try to always have a smile on my face when I’m at the arena- because every moment getting to go to battle with my teammates is an absolute blessing- Jon taught me that and I am forever grateful for that lesson.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about what it is like being a professional sports player?
I think it’s hard to pinpoint one specific myth. I think specifically lacrosse-wise- something that is commonly forgotten is that as players, most of us, also work regular jobs. For example, I work in sales for a medical device staffing company named Brunel. So we work the same hours as those fans that sit in the seats during our games, only we have to find the time to train and prepare like the professional athletes we are expected to be on weekends. I think that’s what makes the connection so strong. We’re just honest, hardworking people that have a special ability to play lacrosse.
Let’s now move to the main part of our discussion. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?
Since the pandemic has taken over our lives — I’ve really begun to realize how much pride I take in giving back. Back in October, with no real idea of when we would be able to play lacrosse again, I wanted to find some motivation to continue to go to the gym. I dove headfirst into what is called 100 Sweaty Sweats. It’s 100 workouts in 92 days from October-January. I pledged money per workout towards CAMH (Centre for addiction and mental health), having dealt with mental health issues as I previously discussed during my time in Vancouver. Throughout the process, I documented the workouts on my Instagram. Now, I’ll never know if it was the videos that made people donate or the fact that I said I would stop posting once I reached my fundraising goal. But — nevertheless, we raised 5,000 dollars for CAMH and I completed the 100 workouts in 81 days.
In mid-January, Ontario was hit with strict lockdown measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. Instead of dread on the fact it was happening and get political with the situation- I wanted to make a positive change and do my best to unify people. So, coupled with my trainer Travis Kanellos, we started “Fund The Grind”. This is essentially a crowd-sourced campaign to raise money for small businesses that are deemed non-essential. We accept video submissions from small businesses that need assistance, and then select those that qualify for support. We give anywhere from 2,000 dollars- 5,000 dollars to these businesses to help them with expenses in order to keep their doors open. It’s been incredible to see people rally together and support their local businesses. As I’ve said throughout this whole process, I don’t see this as ME doing something good. I see it as creating a platform for the WORLD to be good. We’ve seen unification during a time of divide, and I am so proud of that.
What methods are you using to most effectively share your cause with the world?
Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?
The reason I wanted to start this stemmed from two things. I went out for a walk downtown Burlington, Ontario and it was scary. It was a scene out of some sort of sci-fi movie…it was empty with “for lease” signs up and pure silence. I realized the world wasn’t seeing the issues and the hardship because we were all locked indoors. I had to stand up and bring attention to the issues at hand. The second reason was hearing the stories of close friends, around my age, that are entrepreneurs. They spoke of having to take loans and debt on in order to simply keep their doors open. This didn’t sit right with me.
Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
One of the businesses and people that stand out most to me is Almonte Fitness who’s owner Michelle we were fortunate enough to meet. Michelle and her husband had recently purchased the business of their dreams- a gym in the small town of Almonte, Ontario. As the first lockdown happened back in March- they figured it would be a great time to do some renovations to the space. Right out of the gates they showed extreme positivity and took a bad situation and decided to invest back into their business to make sure it was an even better experience for their members once they reopened. In May, the unthinkable happened. Her husband passed away from sudden cardiac arrest. Michelle was left heartbroken with the weight of the world on her shoulders. The community was quick to rally behind her and help her finish the renovations and reopen. Once they were forced to shut down again in December, they neared the brink of shutting down for good. We were able to assist Michelle and Almonte Fitness in January to help them keep their doors open.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- There will always be doubters. There have been countless people that say, we are stealing money, we don’t really help people, and how can you ask for money during a pandemic. No matter what you do in life- there will always be people that try and bring you down- I wish someone had told me from the start to use this as fuel.
- The majority of the world assumes there is a catch. I wish someone had told me this from the start. I can’t explain how many times we have had to tell people there is nothing to gain for us in this situation. We simply want to prove the human race is capable of pure good.
- There is still so much good out there. I never realized how many giving people there are in the world- sometimes they just need a platform to give.
- Even in bad times, we can find good. This has been one of the worst times in human existence from a sadness perspective. Through this- I’ve learned we can always turn the bad into good.
- Never, ever become defeated. If you accept defeat in anything you have set out to do, you will always settle for less.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’d love to start a fitness movement around the world. A group of people working towards a common goal in life. I’ve realized that even if we are apart- we can all be together. I think a global virtual 5k/10k/half/full marathon would be so powerful. Running for purpose- to raise money for mental health initiatives around the world.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
To me this represents starting small- but starting. Taking the steps necessary to make positive change in the world can be very simple. I think the biggest movements with the most positive change start by just doing something minute. I think this applies to almost everything in life; if you want to improve your fitness, well-being, health, the world itself or anything in your life…a small change will move mountains.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
This person is Leonardo DiCaprio for me. He’s taken his incredibly large platform and decided to leverage it to leave the world better than he found it.
How can our readers follow you online?
Personal: Instagram @danlomas Twitter: @dlomas15
Fundraiser: Instagram @fundthegrind Twitter: @fundgrind GoFundMe: https://gofund.me/d66ec276
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
About The Interviewer: Growing up in Canada, Edward Sylvan was an unlikely candidate to make a mark on the high-powered film industry based in Hollywood. But as CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc, (SEGI) Sylvan is among a select group of less than ten Black executives who have founded, own and control a publicly traded company. Now, deeply involved in the movie business, he is providing opportunities for people of color.
In 2020, he was appointed president of the Monaco International Film Festival, and was encouraged to take the festival in a new digital direction.
Raised in Toronto, he attended York University where he studied Economics and Political Science, then went to work in finance on Bay Street, (the city’s equivalent of Wall Street). After years of handling equities trading, film tax credits, options trading and mergers and acquisitions for the film, mining and technology industries, in 2008 he decided to reorient his career fully towards the entertainment business.
With the aim of helping Los Angeles filmmakers of color who were struggling to understand how to raise capital, Sylvan wanted to provide them with ways to finance their creative endeavors.
At Sycamore Entertainment he specializes in print and advertising financing, marketing, acquisition and worldwide distribution of quality feature-length motion pictures, and is concerned with acquiring, producing and promoting films about equality, diversity and other thought provoking subject matter which will also include nonviolent storytelling.
Also in 2020, Sylvan launched SEGI TV, a free OTT streaming network built on the pillars of equality, sustainability and community which is scheduled to reach 100 million U.S household televisions and 200 million mobile devices across Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Samsung Smart TV and others.
As Executive Producer he currently has several projects in production including The Trials of Eroy Brown, a story about the prison system and how it operated in Texas, based on the best-selling book, as well as a documentary called The Making of Roll Bounce, about the 2005 coming of age film which starred rapper Bow Wow and portrays roller skating culture in 1970’s Chicago.
He sits on the Board of Directors of Uplay Canada, (United Public Leadership Academy for Youth), which prepares youth to be citizen leaders and provides opportunities for Canadian high school basketball players to advance to Division 1 schools as well as the NBA.
A former competitive go kart racer with Checkered Flag Racing Ltd, he also enjoys traveling to exotic locales. Sylvan resides in Vancouver and has two adult daughters.
Sylvan has been featured in Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and has been seen on Fox Business News, CBS and NBC. Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc is headquartered in Seattle, with offices in Los Angeles and Vancouver.