Indoor lacrosse was always a part of Jeff Teat’s life, from watching his father’s professional career to playing that version of the sport himself while growing up.
The Riptide’s prized rookie and the No. 1 overall pick in the National Lacrosse League Draft says the indoor version has grown on him as compared to the outdoor game, in which he made his mark as one of the top college players during his four seasons at Cornell.
"Yeah, I definitely aspired," Teat said this past week of playing in the NLL. "I always played box lacrosse. It was always part of the plan. Indoor lacrosse was secondary at one point. But it’s 50/50 now."
The 5-10, 170-pound attackman from Brampton, Ontario — where he still resides — is second in scoring on the Riptide with 10 goals and 24 assists in five games. That includes three assists in the Riptide’s 13-10 road loss to the Halifax Thunderbirds on Friday night as they fell to 1-6 in their second season.
Teat, 24, also completed his rookie season in the outdoor Premier Lacrosse League last summer. He finished third in that league in scoring with 16 goals and 16 assists in seven games for the Atlas, who lost in the semifinals to the eventual champion Chaos.
He was on the final watch list for the Tewaaraton Award — college lacrosse’s equivalent of the Heisman — as a Cornell senior. He also was a nominee for the prestigious award in 2018 and 2019.
Teat is finding the professional game different from college competition.
"It’s definitely a lot faster," he said. "The players are bigger, stronger, more skilled. It’s a step up for me to get used to the pace and the game. I think it’s been OK. It’s just a work in progress. I’m learning from other people and trying to adapt as quickly as possible."
With the opening of the Islanders’ new $1.1 billion UBS Arena, the Riptide are the main co-tenants at Nassau Coliseum along with the Long Island Nets of the NBA’s G League.
NLL teams are playing an 18-game schedule from December through April and the Riptide have five home games remaining. They next host Teat’s "hometown" team, the Toronto Rock, on Feb. 26.
"It’s good," Teat said of the Coliseum. "It’s not too big. It’s a good arena. It gets going at some points. It’s fun to be around some of the Islanders’ stuff."
Teat never saw the Islanders play at the Coliseum and hadn’t set foot in the building before touring it on July 6 after being selected first overall by the Riptide.
"A lot of my teammates from Cornell are from around here," Teat told Newsday during the tour. "They can’t stop speaking about how crazy this place is."
The Riptide went 1-12 in 2020 with their first season being truncated because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Coliseum also formerly was the home arena for the NLL’s Saints (1989-2003) and Titans (2006-09).
Teat’s father, Dan, played in the NLL from 1997-2010, compiling 298 goals and 332 assists in 195 games. He is a member of the Canadian and Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fames.
"I was fortunate enough to be around for his games and his practices," Jeff Teat said. "I would feed off his game and the guys he used to play with. I would try to take everyone’s game and make it into one."
Dan Teat currently is an assistant coach for the NLL’s Panther City Lacrosse Club.
Which meant that, on Jan. 15 at the Coliseum, the two Teats were on opposing benches for the first time as Panther City edged the Riptide, 13-12, in overtime.
"We’ve always kind of been on the same bench," said Jeff Teat, adding that he thought about it "a little before the game and definitely after it."
"Once the game started, it was kind of like any other game," he said.
Teat said even though his father coaches for an NLL rival, he still texts for advice before and after Riptide games.
"It goes a long way," said Teat, who also might follow his father into coaching.
He graduated college with a communications major but, because of the loose NLL schedule of no more than one game per week, he also works as a coach at The Hill Academy in Caledon, Ontario, where he starred for five seasons before heading to Cornell.