How would a PLL championship impact Tom Schreiber’s legacy?
There’s very little that Tom Schreiber hasn’t done on a lacrosse field.
At 31, he’s the only three-time MVP ever, has two World Lacrosse Championship gold medals, scored the game-winner versus Canada in the 2018 gold medal game, won an MLL Championship in 2017, is a four-time PLL Gary Gait Midfielder of the Year, ranks 14th all-time in points (382) and eighth in assists (191), and is as well-regarded, well-respected, and well-admired off the field as anyone in lacrosse.
But through nearly five stellar seasons in the PLL, Schreiber is missing one notable piece of hardware.
The Archers and Schreiber have been amongst the best regular season teams for the past few years, but postseason success has eluded them. Talented teams of legends have come up short for one reason or another.
The 2023 season has been different, though. And, in the most significant way, it’s been different because the onus has been on Schreiber to take his team to the mountaintop. All-time greats Marcus Holman, Will Manny, Dominique Alexander, Scott Ratliff, and Adam Ghitelman are gone. But in their wake, the 2023 MVP has pushed the Archers — with a young batch of talent alongside him — to new heights and will now play in his first PLL Cash App Championship with the opportunity to further cement his position among the sport’s all time greats.
“I think he’s pretty well established,” says Archers Lacrosse Club Head Coach and General Manager Chris Bates with a chuckle. “But I do think this would be a real cherry on top of a pretty amazing cake. Another big ole feather in his cap that would continue to solidify him as an all-time special player and an all-time special winner. That’s the separation. You can be a great player, but him doing everything he can for the team to be successful speaks to who he is.”
“You look at the things he’s done,” says longtime friend and teammate Ryan Ambler. “He’s won and succeeded at every level, at the highest level. He’s done it all. This just cements his dominance. How many other players have just won everything, both as part of a team and individually?”
Schreiber is undoubtedly one of the GOATs. That’s not up for debate. But his standing amongst them and his status amidst the best in the world right now could be greatly impacted by Sunday’s result.
But, before that game is played, the question still stands: Is Schreiber the best lacrosse player in the world?
“He has been since he was 14,” says Ambler, laughing.
“I don’t even care if I’m biased,” the fellow Princeton product adds. “You see what he does. He’s our engine and our heartbeat. You don’t replace that guy. And that’s just his on field prowess.”
As Ambler alludes to, it’s not even Schreiber’s mind-boggling, entirely unique playing style that defines his legacy.
“It’s not the legacy itself, it’s how he’s gone about it,” says Ambler. “That’s the poster child, that’s the guy we should try to follow. He’s garnered so much respect from people on the team and outside the team. He’s one of if not the most respected player in the league. He gives back so much. [A championship would be] another feather in the cap, but to me it’s just been dominance.”
What Schreiber represents as a person is what stands out even for a player who boasts a list of career achievements that is impossible to pick holes in. From being a volunteer assistant coach for Uganda in the 2014 World Championships, to going to Uganda and raising money to help grow the game and support struggling communities years before that, and his incredibly moving MVP speech about his late teammate Colin Clive and the subsequent fundraising he promoted to help fight brain cancer, Schreiber is a rising tide that lifts all boats in the lacrosse world.
It’s how he treats people that stands out as well. Nobody is more caring nor more aware of the influence he has on those around him.
“Tom is the gold standard for what I try to be as a person and a player,” says Ambler. “That’s what I first think of with him. He’s a caring guy. He’s very thoughtful about how he treats people.”
This is all to say that, as much as beating the Waterdogs on Sunday would even more strongly affirm Schreiber as a player worthy of being on lacrosse’s Mt. Rushmore, the scoreboard in Philadelphia will hardly determine the impact that he has on the world of lacrosse.
And that's what makes Tom Schreiber the best lacrosse player in the world.