In his regular Saturday column, lacrosse analyst Dan Fleuette discusses and comments on the latest news from the world of lacrosse. Be sure to check this space every Saturday at Breitbart Sports for incisive analysis and news of all things lacrosse.
Recruiting: What Coaches Look For
When the Olympics wrapped up a few weeks ago, one of the lasting impressions the athletes left was a sense of awe at the time and effort put into training.
Author Malcolm Gladwell posits in his book Outliers that to master something, a sport, an instrument, you need to spend at least 10,000 hours practicing that particular field.
It seems intuitive that God-given ability and natural inclination to any particular practice can only be enhanced by a devotion to that practice in the form of blood, sweat, and tears, and all things being equal, the ones with the more natural ability and desire will break through and excel. But you’ve got to put in the time.
This intuition seems to be backed up by the stories of these Olympic athletes spending hours and hours each day obsessively working on their sport.
But is this intuition faulty? Are college lacrosse coaches only interested in lacrosse players who devote their entire sporting careers to honing the skills necessary to compete in lacrosse? According to this US Lacrosse article, the answer may surprise you. The college coaches agree that the different skills and talents learned by kids playing multiple sports actually benefit lacrosse players who are fighting for a spot on a college team.
Penn State coach Jeff Tambroni is pretty clear about this concept. “All things being equal, meaning that we’re considering two players with comparable skills, we’ll take the multi-sport athlete,” he divulged.
Princeton’s Chris Bates says of multi-sport athletes, “These guys have a high level of athleticism but probably haven’t peaked yet as lacrosse players. Once they get to college, they will specialize and will develop and blossom. They usually have a steep growth curve, whereas some of the kids who have been single-sport athletes tend to burn out quicker. Oftentimes, they don’t have as much left in the tank.”
Scott Marr, Albany’s coach, echoes that sentiment: “It strengthens the mind to learn different skills. And they may experience different roles on different teams, like being the best player on one team but a supporting player on another team. That can be valuable and gives them great perspective.”
Whether your son or daughter is particularly gifted in a sport or not, merely playing awards benefits. Competitors learn the value of teamwork and being part of something bigger than yourself. They learn that there are other people counting on you to give all your effort, and you expect the same from them. Sports also teach the value of hard work, desire, accountability–traits that translate well into the real world.
Lacrosse Goes High Tech
Athletes are constantly searching ways to be faster, stronger, and more durable. Innovative tech companies are looking to get beyond the intangibles of hard work, desire, and practice, practice, practice.
One such company is MC10, a company whose goal is to “redefine the interface between electronics and the human body. In other words – make humans more superhuman.”
Recently, MC10 hosted a panel at Harvard Innovation Lab called Innovation in Sports: Technology & the Modern Athlete, to discuss how tech is helping athletes get to the next level.
Paul Rabil, one of the most decorated lacrosse players of all time serves on the MC10 Sports Advisory Board and took part in the panel. Rabil is a former stand-out lacrosse star at Johns Hopkins, and MLL and NLL Champion.
The panel included some of the best athletes across a wide spectrum of sports and included quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Matt Hasslebeck of the Indianapolis Colts. The panel’s focus was on “new technologies and how they may affect athletes.”
Rabil talked about “the hot moment” in sports, which Michael Jordan used to call “the zone”, where “LeBron James can’t miss a shot, when Matt Hasselbeck can’t miss a throw, or if I’m on a field, and…throwing the ball into the net feels like throwing the ball into the ocean. What is that made of? It’s a level of confidence, it’s a level of repetition, understanding your body, your mechanics, muscle activity, range of motion.
“To have the opportunity to be a part of a brand like MC10 that has wearable technology…that can measure to an exact degree your muscle activity, your hydration levels, your range of motion, that’s the next closest step to being able to capture those fine moments, so we can then analyse and look at a game, the moment you scored several goals in a row and you felt great…sports psychologists have been trying to do that for quite some time.”
From the Harvard Innovation Lab website: “The modern professional athlete is both an athlete and a business. With the increase in available wearable technologies, mobile platforms, sensors, real-time biometrics and athletic performance data, the professional athletes of today are gaining unlimited access to vital information that can have a profound impact on both individual athlete and team fitness, training and performance.”
Wheelchairs Won’t Slow This Group Down
On Saturday, March 14, Kennedy Krieger of the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury located in Baltimore, will host a wheelchair lacrosse clinic for its patients of dealing with spinal cord injuries.
Kennedy Krieger is on the cutting edge of spinal cord injury rehabilitation and is devoted to making the lives of those with physical disabilities more fulfilling and whole. Toward that end they are teaming up with Freestate Wheelchair Lacrosse to put on a wheelchair lacrosse clinic at Johns Hopkins University, prior to the Johns Hopkins-Syracuse lacrosse game.
Participants in the clinic will take in the game, then take part in a scrimmage at the University gym, across from the field immediately after.
The majority of the participants have never played lacrosse before. But to organizer Erin Michael, the setting couldn’t make more sense. Michael, a physical therapist at Kennedy Krieger, heard about Freestate Wheelchair Lacrosse, and their efforts to grow the sport of wheelchair lacrosse and immediately started brainstorming with Freestate organizer Mark Flounlacker to put together the clinic for her patients.
It may be a stretch to think of lacrosse in a wheelchair but to Michael, having played lacrosse in high school, the idea made perfect sense. Calling Maryland “the epicenter of the lacrosse world” Michael put all her energy into making the event successful.
From the press release:
At Kennedy Krieger’s International Center for Spinal Cord Injury, a team of physicians, therapists and researchers are dedicated to helping their patients follow their dreams and live fulfilling, independent lives. This means expanding work outside of the hospital and therapy sessions and providing patients with opportunities to be active, have fun and become engaged in the community – and the new Wheelchair Lacrosse Program does all of that!
On March 15th at 8:30 a.m., 18 participants will gather at Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood Campus gymnasium to participate in a Wheelchair Lacrosse Clinic hosted by Kennedy Krieger. The first part of the day will consist of skill building, followed by a 2:00 p.m. scrimmage. There will be a break from 11:30am – 2:00 p.m. so that participants can attend the Hopkins vs. Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse match.
Currently, there are only four wheelchair lacrosse leagues in the country. The goal of this clinic is to get more people interested in the sport and hopefully begin a league right here in Baltimore.
Kennedy Krieger is already active in empowering its patients to participate in activities they may have been active in before their injuries. At the Baltimore Running Festival, which is one of the biggest races in Baltimore, they have a hand cycling team. The Festival has various classes of races, from full marathon down to a kids fun run, which has been opened to kids in wheelchairs.
The Festival has a charity component, and Kennedy Krieger is active in creating a team and getting pledges from participants–last year they raised over $100,000. Part of that charity money goes directly into supporting hand cycling and wheelchair lacrosse by purchasing bikes and equipment needed for its participants.
Engaging in sports helps builds community as well as physical and mental health for Kennedy Krieger patients, and Michael has seen often dramatic improvement .
According to Michael, “patients hear the work ‘can’t’ a lot – our mission is to show them that they can. One patient even said that he wouldn’t have ever considered running in a marathon, but since his injury is looking forward to ‘crossing the finish line’ as a hand cyclist.
Wheelchair lacrosse has been around since 2009. Walter Reed Medical Center even hosts a clinic for injured service men and women. Mark Flounlacker works closely with Wheelchair Lacrosse USA, the organization responsible for the Walter Reed clinics, and is hoping to grow their organizations, and is looking to expand across the country.
Flounlacker, who recently suffered a spinal cord injury himself, says, “Recovery from spinal cord injury is a lot more than just walking and getting your life back and adaptive sports is a big part of that process.”
Fact Versus Fiction In College Lacrosse
Inside Lacrosse contributor Quint Kessinich has some opinions about the state of lacrosse.
Game of the Week
#10 Syracuse at #3 Johns Hopkins. Sure, Syracuse has been on a slide recently, and Hopkins is undefeated, but Saturday’s game should give a good indication of where both programs stand in reality. These two teams have a historic rivalry (think Celtics-Lakers), and their games tend to hue toward the classic.
#5 North Carolina at #4 Duke is another great game. Thankfully for lacrosse fans, both of these games will be broadcast by ESPNU.
Games on Tap
Complete rundown here.
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Photo: Johns Hopkins University