November 21, 2013

MLL's Nationals Relocated to Florida for 2014

from LaxMagazine.com Staff Reports

Reigning league MVP Kevin Crowley and the rest of the Hamilton 23-man roster will be playing in Florida as the Launch in 2014.
© Kevin Tucker

Major League Lacrosse will field a team in south florida in 2014, announcing on Thursday morning that the Florida Launch will be playing in Palm Beach and coached by former Denver Outlaws assistant Stan Ross.

The team will consist of the 23-man protected roster of the Hamilton Nationals, which will not be in operation in 2014. It is unclear whether the move to Florida will be a permanent one, or if the Ontario franchise - which won the 2009 Steinfeld Cup and lost in the 2011 finals to the Boston Cannons - will return in future seasons.

"South Florida has always been a target market for us," said MLL Commissioner David Gross. "After the 2012 All-Star Game and last year's exhibition we felt the market was ready for a team and we are confident that bringing the professional game there will help with the continuous growth of the sport."

MLL used South Florida as a test market in 2012 with the All-Star Game when the Old-School Team defeated the Young Guns in an 18-17 nail-biter at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton. More recently MLL returned to Boca for a Hamilton Nationals home game in which they prevailed over the Rochester Rattlers 17-11 in front of over four thousand fans and paving the way for the first MLL team in South Florida.

A Florida resident, Ross spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach with the Denver Outlaws where he helped the team reach a perfect regular season in 2013.

Before joining the Outlaws', Ross coached at the United States Naval Academy, where he coordinated both the offense and defense for five years (2007-11). Prior to coaching at Navy, he was the head coach at Butler University from 2004-07 and was an assistant at Towson for seven seasons (98 - 04) under current Outlaws GM Tony Seaman.

"It is an honor to be named the first head coach in Florida Launch history," said Ross. "I am thankful to the organization and the MLL for allowing me this opportunity to coach a professional team in my home state. Lacrosse is growing rapidly in Florida, and the addition of a local professional team will be a huge catalyst for expansion of our sport in the area. I feel the Florida Launch will be welcomed with open arms by the Florida lacrosse community."

The Nationals began play in Toronto in 2009 as the first ever Canadian team in the MLL. In its five-year history the club has won a Steinfeld Trophy in 2009 and qualified for Championship Weekend in 2011, falling to the Boston Cannons in the final, and in 2013, losing to the eventual champion Chesapeake Bayhawks in the semifinals.

Ross and the Florida Launch will have a chance to expand its 23-man roster to 40 in the Supplemental Draft to be held December 4, and in the 2014 Collegiate Draft on January 10 at the US Lacrosse National Convention. Fans will be able to follow the Collegiate Draft on the League's YouTube channel starting at 8:30 p.m.


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