Hometown Kids Frank Brown, Connor Fields Living a Dream Come True


Frank Brown’s first reaction when he found out he got traded to the Buffalo Bandits? Just let the energy and excitement take over you.

“The GM from Rochester, Dan Carey, he called me up and said that he traded me to Buffalo,” Brown said. “You never want to hear that you got traded, so obviously that kind of made me feel a certain kind of way. But at the same time, when he finished the sentence and said he was sending me to Buffalo, it was like this jolt of pure joy. The second I got off the phone, I just started running around the house kind of like a little kid.”

Connor Fields understands that feeling. Like Brown, he also grew up in Western New York. He was out on the golf course with his brother and fiancé when he got the call that he’d been traded to Buffalo.

“When I got the call, they said, ‘You’ve got your wish, we traded you back home,’” said Fields, from the nearby suburb of East Amherst. “I was like, ‘Back home? Back home like in college [in Albany] or back home like Buffalo?’ They said, ‘We traded you to the Bandits.’ … I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

Now, both will get an opportunity few athletes ever get — a chance to win a championship with their hometown team. The Bandits kick off their best-of-three National Lacrosse League Finals with the Colorado Mammoth on Saturday in Buffalo.

“To put it as simply as possible, it’s a childhood dream come true,” Brown said. “I grew up going to Bandits games. I grew up idolizing some of the Native American stars in the past. To be able to be on a team that is playing in the Finals, you can’t say much more than a dream come true.”

Brown arrived in Buffalo first, coming over from Rochester on Feb. 27, 2020. The Red House, New York, native played two games in his first go-around with the Bandits before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the season.

A canceled 2021 season and lingering injuries to start this year meant he had to wait until March 31 to get back out on the floor.

“At the beginning of the season, I kind of told myself, ‘You’re either going to get back to 100 percent, or you’re never going to play again,’” Brown said. “It was just so frustrating, being a half-step behind here or there. Seeing plays that I know I could make had my body been the way it should be and not being able to make them. It just got to a point where it wasn’t that fun for me. Thankfully, [head coach John Tavares] and [GM Steve Dietrich] were patient with me all year.”

He got back to full health, snagging 10 loose balls and causing four turnovers in four regular season games. He’s recorded 15 loosies so far this postseason.

Fields, who spent the first two years of his NLL career in San Diego, requested a trade from the Seals after getting a new job that required he overlook a larger territory on the East Coast. Missing work every Friday to travel across the country was no longer feasible.

“They were great about it,” Fields said. “They asked, ‘Where would you want to go?’ and I said somewhere on the East Coast would be ideal, but somewhere within driving distance would be best-case scenario. Obviously, it worked out.”

Fields was officially traded at the start of the draft in August. He’s enjoying his best season yet, notching 67 points in the regular season and 10 so far in the playoffs.

“My family always went to my games growing up and in college as well,” Fields said. “San Diego and the Premier Lacrosse League were really the first times that they haven’t been at my games. It was really weird for me mentally. It helped a lot having them at all my games again.”

Fields and Brown understand the type of atmosphere they’ll be walking into during the NLL Finals. Both were in attendance as teenaged fans the last time the Bandits won a championship, when Buffalo defeated the Portland LumberJax in 2008.

“Seeing the environment at those games, and just seeing how crazy Banditland is in general but even more so in a championship series, is really exciting,” Fields said. “I can’t wait to see this weekend how Banditland is, how loud they are. They always give us a good boost.”

“One of the more mesmerizing goals that I’ve seen in my life was in that ’08 game,” Brown said. “Cory Bomberry shot a low-to-high near side. Whoever the goalie was kind of baited him there, and Cory just blew it right by him.”

Brown hopes he can now make the impact on the next generation that talents like Bomberry had on him. As a kid, he looked at the Native American players on the Bandits and felt validation, understanding that some day that could be him, too.

No matter who wins this year’s NLL Finals, Native American kids from Western New York will have a champion to look up to. On the other bench will be Zed Williams, Brown’s former teammate at Silver Creek High School.

“Zeddy and I are pretty active within our respective communities, him being from Cattaraugus and me being from Allegheny,” Brown said. “Looking back to providing an example to the next generation of ‘I can do that,’ I think this is a really cool time for our communities. Everybody wins because somebody from our home is going to win an NLL championship. It’s just another reason why all of this is pretty special.”

Brown, of course, hopes he’ll be the one lifting hardware this month. Just two wins stand between both hometown kids and the cherry on top of a dream come true.

“For field lacrosse, I always thought about college, a national championship,” Fields said. “But for box lacrosse, I always thought of playing for the Bandits. That was probably my biggest goal, and winning a championship for Buffalo.”


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