Sights and Sounds from #LaxCon Day 1
|Fans enter the convention on Friday. (John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com)|
With a robust cross-section of fans, coaches, players, teachers and vendors decending on Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Friday was an exciting day for anyone who fancies themselves any supporter of lacrosse as the US Lacrosse National Convention got underway.
Lacrosse Magazine and US Lacrosse staff were all over on Friday and will continue to be throughout the close of the convention on Sunday, and we'll be keeping our readers up to date on all the action (or, at least, as much as we can take in seeing as there's about 15-30 things going on at any given moment).
Be sure to follow along on twitter at #LaxCon for plenty of updates from us and all the other folks ducking in and out of the various events, talks, and vendor area.
Making the Game Inclusive
How do we create an inclusive environment with the lacrosse community? That's the question that was put to the panelists at Friday's Diversity & Inclusion session. And while no single blueprint was defined, panelists offered a number of suggestions that leagues, teams and coaches can utilize.
Shari Appollon, a former player at Syracuse University who now serves as a board member and girls coach with the Brooklyn Lacrosse Club, explained that her club's recruiting efforts begin by helping to educate non-traditional lacrosse audiences. "We have to help people understand who we are and what we're doing. Sometimes, I only get two minutes at a meeting to talk about who we are."
Appollon also stressed the importance of consistency at all levels of the program. "We have teams that range from five years old through high school, and we try to be consistent in the messages we try to get across to the kids at all age levels."
Ahngelique Davis coaches youth girls in South Jersey and in Philadelphia. She encouraged coaches to understand that there could be big differences between suburban and inner city cultures.
"You need to know who the parents are and you need to make connections," Davis said. "But understand that you might be dealing with parents who have multiple jobs and who may have never played sports."
Davis explained that the challenges for inner city coaches go way beyond just coaching players on the field.
"It's about helping kids grow out of challenging experiences. It starts with the coach. It's all about your attitude."
Amir Fluellen, a 16-year old high school player from Philadelphia's inner city, asked coaches to be patient in teaching kids that have never been exposed to the game.
"Take your time in introducing the sport," he said. "And get to know us apart from the game."
Saturday's US Lacrosse Convention schedule includes a second Diversity & Inclusion session, scheduled for 12:40 pm.
For more information about US Lacrosse's diversity and inclusion efforts, please visit www.uslacrosse.org/inclusion.
Clement Mixes Humor, Inspiration in Keynote
Keynote speaker Bill Clement - veteran of the legendary 'Broad Street Bullies'-era Philadelphia Flyers - spoke on Friday evening as the keynote for the convention. Paul Krome has a full report on his remarks here.
Learning Opportunities Everywhere
|USC women's lacrosse assistant, Team USA gold medal winner, New York Lizards hopeful and barefoot convention presenter Devon Wills. (John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com)|
One of the biggst things at convention is the opportunity for fans, coaches and players to duck in to sessions on pretty much any topic under the sun, in terms of making yourself a better lacrosse player/coach/official/fan/reporter/whatever. The actual breakdown of who is presenting what and where if you're in the neighborhood is right here.
While roaming the exhibition halls Friday, I didn't have a chance to sit in on any full presentations, but I had probably my favortite moment when observing Team USA goalie and Major League Lacrosse hopeful Devon Wills at the 'Goalie Cage' area. Where most presenters opt for regular coaching attire (read: team sweats or khaki/polo combo depending on personal preference), Wills was dressed up a bit more, as she was heading to a reception for the U.S. Women to celebrate their gold medal performance in Canada and receive their rings.
But since her heels weren't condusive to the footwork required for her demo, she did the whole thing in bare feet. I'm guessing she's likely to be the only demonstrator to pull that move this weekend, but I suppose the convention is still young.
Cohen Honored as Keeper of Lacrosse
A member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame since 1988, Harvey Cohen's long life as a supporter and pioneer of lacrosse was honored before the Keynote address as he was named the first national winner of USL's 'Keeper of Lacrosse' award.
After playing lacrosse starting in 1934 at New York Military Academy and on through the 1940s after his service as a pilot in World War II, Cohen dedicated his life to the growth of the game, developing and coaching programs on Long Island in the 1960s that helped establish the area as one of the preeminent hotbeds in lacrosse. He has also served on the boards of several lacrosse organizations including the Lacrosse Foundation and US Lacrosse, and was a selector and administrator for Team USA.
He was honored with a standing ovation by the crowd after a short video depicting the long service he has given to the game.
USA Women Celebrated
As previously mentioned, the U.S. Women were celebrated for their victory in Oshawa on Friday evening, both in the remarks leading up to Clement's keynote address by USL CEO Steve Stenersen (and some brief remarks by coach Ricky Fried as well) and with a reception where they received their championship rings.
After a brief video highlighting the dominant nature of their performance in Canada in front of the keynote crowd, Stenersen commented in introducing Fried that the team had been 'Perhaps the most dominant in the history of the women's game'. When Fried took the microphone, he corrected that statement to indicate that the word 'perhaps' could be omitted.
Many of the players made it to the reception honoring their accomplishments, where Fried once again took to the podium and gave a lengthy speech, touching on each individual member of the roster that set so many records in Canada and looking forward to the future, where he is committed to leading the team to the next FIL World Cup in 2017 (Guildford, England).
MLL Draft Headlines Evening
Friday evening saw the Major League Lacrosse draft take place in the Marriott hotel adjacent to the convention center, where 64 players heard their names called by one of the eight teams in the league. The scene was decidedly party-esque, with thumping music accompanying the dulcet tones of commissioner Dave Gross's voice as he announced picks (with a special guest appearance by USL Men's Game Director Stephen Berger announcing the final pick of the night as a one-time 'Mr. Irrelevant' himself).
Open to the public and free to all, the event drew a nice contingent of fans and several current MLL and Team USA guys who were in town for the convention.
Brian Logue and myself blogged and tweeted our hearts out, and Corey McLaughlin filed some early analysis of the draft picks, who can file away their respective potential future teams now and look forward to their senior years in the NCAA.