Traveling to and from Missoula is never an easy thing to do in the winter, so I guess I should have expected the difficult start to my journey to the USLacrosse National Convention this year. A stow storm during my connection in Salt Lake City meant that I didn’t arrive in Philadelphia until 2:30 AM on Friday. After a ride from a friend, some catching up, it was bed by 4:00… only problem was that I had to be at a meeting at 7:30 AM at the Convention Center. The Chapter Leadership Conference ran until 4:00 PM (with a couple quick breaks) and covered a wide range of USLacrosse services and topics. There were around 100 people in the room, representing all of the diverse Chapters in the United States, and so there were parts of the meeting that affected my chapter and parts that we really don’t have to deal with yet. It’s always good to know where the curve is and try to stay ahead, so I was happy for the opportunity to learn (and the coffee!). I won’t bore the casual reader with details of the session, but it’s amazing to see all the people who are out there getting things done. Chapter leadership is becoming, more and more, the vehicle that facilitates growth of the game – and that is a good thing. We need standardized rules and best practices, but getting things done is a slow process that can be incredibly frustrating at times. If you get a chance to meet a volunteer who serves your Chapter, you should probably take a second and say thank you… at the end of the day, we are all there for the kids and to make sure they have a safe, positive, and memorable experience. So while it may not matter to you, I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to play lacrosse, no matter where they are from.
After my meeting I dove right into the Convention. Since this was my 5th Convention, I felt it was OK for me to slack a bit in my class work. I ended up spending a good amount of time in the Vendors and Exhibition Hall this year and since I have a wide range of lacrosse-related dealings back in Montana, I had a need to talk to virtually everyone in the hall. I spoiled myself this year with a new stick from Alfie Jacques, I found some sweet new gear for my teams, picked up some prints from the Art of Lax, and filled my pockets with business cards.
Friday night I made it to the Wings game with a good crew of laxers. If I’m in a city where there is a pro lacrosse game going on, I am there… being from Montana, I have to take advantage of those opportunities… There was a Montana contingent, CW, Greg Rose, Tim McCormack, and a few other friends. We watched some good lacrosse and had some great conversations. Everyone there was involved in growing the game, but we were all from different places and I think everyone enjoyed hearing and sharing alternative perspectives. I have to say I was surprised by the Wings play, I knew they had a lot of talent and athleticism but I wasn’t sure they could pull it off indoors. They won’t be hard to root for this year if they can keep it up. After the game Friday we hit a Chapters social hosted by the good people in Utah, Houston, and Illinois. Always great to hang out and talk with my friends from USL!
Saturday morning came early and was a long day. I went to Brian Silcott’s presentation called “Running a High Energy Practice That Teaches Fundamentals and a Love For The Game”… I agree with all that, so I went, and Coach Silcott made a great presentation. Always good to remember to keep things moving forward and plan ahead! After a quick follow up meeting with USLacrosse Western Chapters Director, Lindsay Comodore, I headed back to the Vendors Hall. More handshakes and business cards, great meeting with my friend Chris Rotelli, I talked to Johnny Mouradian about my box lacrosse dreams for Montana, and then I headed to the hotel for a little down time. CW had to hit the road, so I went back down to the action with two of my friends from college without much of a plan in mind. Just as we started to walk down, Mike Powell called and so we went to meet up with him and RP, watched a little football and caught up a bit. Mike came out to Montana for the first time this fall with the Grow The Game Tour and we have kept in touch since. Aside from being one of the first athletes in this sport to inspire me, Mike is also a phenomenal person with some great ideas and I really enjoy our talks. It was great to spend some time with Ryan, especially with our Western connection, and we were joined by Doug Appleton and Cort Kim from Easton, who were also great people to get to know. Although we come from totally different places in the world, we are part of the lacrosse community and these guys are all tremendous Game Growers. I had a fun night with this crew (Casey too!), and it was cool to see these guys just acting like brothers… I’m sure with their schedules they don’t get the chance to be together too often. Family first, lacrosse after… something to keep in mind.
Sunday morning I went to an interesting presentation by Dave Huntley called “Lacrosse By The Numbers – The Math of Shooting and Scoring” and there was definitely some math! I’m not really one to argue against science and fact, so Coach Huntley gave me a lot of ideas about what I should be focusing on this spring. The general principle is that scoring percentage is a stronger win indicator than save percentage, and that catering your game to a certain style gives you the greatest statistical advantage. Coach Huntley did a really good job of breaking down the numbers into some pretty simple things that you can focus on, and I look forward to implementing these ideas and tracking even more of my team’s efficiency this spring.
That was the last presentation of the event, and so I went to a barbeque at a friends before crashing pretty early and getting up Monday to hit the road. Lots to digest and to think about. It was great to get back to snowy Montana, my own bed, and let it all sink in…