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Gone Campin': Team USA Starts Two-A-Days
Intrepid reporter -- and US Lacrosse Director of National Teams -- Nathaniel Badder is embedded with Team USA at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., as it heads into training camp to ready for the MLL All-Star Game and FIL World Championships. Check back to laxmagazine.com this week for continuing coverage.
Team USA midfielder Matt Zash moves down the alley on
long pole Kyle Sweeney during the first full day of training camp
Monday at Bryant University. Click here for more photos.
© Nathaniel Badder
MONDAY, JULY 5, 2010
7:08 a.m.: Entering the dining hall,
there’s a sign that reads “Bryant University welcomes
Team USA Lacrosse!” A very nice touch.
9:27 a.m.: As a long-time coach and believer in teaching kids the right way to play, it’s refreshing to see that a team loaded with the top players in the world still focuses on the same concepts (spacing, communication, decision-making), works on the same skills (stickwork, shooting, transition situations), and runs the same drills (4-cone passing, midfield shooting progressions, 3-on-2 to the goal, 1-on-1s) as you’d see during any youth lacrosse practice. The difference is the speed at which these drills are executed… and that offensive players knife balls through invisible gaps in the defense and stick shots long after you’ve heard the goalie call out “no angle,” or that defensive players materialize out of nowhere to pick off passes destined for certain-goal shots and maintain solid position after two, three, or four knee-quaking, ankle-breaking moves. It’s impressive to watch.
10:32 a.m.: Practice concludes with some enthusiastic conditioning -- guys run a 20-yard out and back each time Coach Pressler calls out something that applies to them. He yells, “Nittany Lions” and Chris Schiller (Penn State) bolts up and back; “Blue Jays” and Stephen Peyser, Paul Rabil and Shawn Nadelen do a sprint; “Ivy League” and Matt Striebel (Princeton), Ryan Boyle (Princeton) and Ryan McClay (Cornell) take off -- Doc (Maryland) sneaks into the group, convinced that his assistant coach duties at Penn qualify him. Coach Pressler calls out “United States of America,” and the whole group heads off, hooting and hollering the whole way. Team USA!
2:45 p.m.: The cavalry arrives: 10 Team USA players stayed in Denver last night for the Outlaws’ 12-10 action-packed but rain-soaked win over the Bayhawks. A little jet-lagged from the ride, the guys find their rooms to rest up before the evening session.
6:30 p.m.: With everyone finally here and in place, training camp is officially open for business and kicks off with a full-team meeting. It’s hard to believe that this is actually happening. It’s been so long in the works, so many long days and weeks and months -- even years -- of talking and planning and preparation. It’s actually here. It’s pretty exciting. And it’s hard to believe that in three short weeks it will all be over.
7:25 p.m.: 24 – The number of lacrosse balls lost during one shooting drill. The woods surrounding Bryant’s stadium field are now teeming with hard rubber orbs.
8:02 p.m.: A set of 4-on-4s produces some truly spirited play. Great passion… great energy… great fire out there. Big checks… killer dodges… sick shots. It’s really fun to watch.