If you did not attend the Utah Lacrosse Association Annual Convention this past weekend, you missed out. This year, more then 170 people signed up including coaches from the youth, girls and boys leagues as well as referees and parent reps. There was information and seminars for everyone who is part of the game in Utah and Idaho. The convention started on Friday night and involved stat training and also a PCA (Positive Coaching Alliance) seminar. Saturday kicked off with introductions and a presentation by US Lacrosse CEO, Steve Stenersen. After Mr. Stenersen’s presentation there were different presentations and seminars for everyone.
Mr. Stenersen talked mostly about how US Lacrosse is continuing to grow and how important chapters like the Utah Lacrosse Association are in facilitating this growth. The ULA is given guidelines from US Lacrosse and implements those guidelines into its leagues in Utah. Mr. Stenersen also talked about how growing the game in a positive direction begins from the ground up. Focusing on creating uniform rules in the youth leagues will create a better quality lacrosse experience all over the nation. He talked about how many for-profit business enterprises may not have the best interests of a developing player in mind when creating some events. Is it really a good experience when a 12 year old player plays 5 games in a day in the heat of summer? He said he would like to change the “for-profit” motive from what is best for business to what is best for our kids. He also mentioned that year round play leads to inconsistent quality, more exposure to injury, and player burnout. From talking with Mr. Stenersen after the convention I really got the feeling he is impressed at how the ULA runs the Utah Chapter of US Lacrosse.
The next session I attended was 6v6: The Harvard Way by Ryan Glennon. Ryan presented mostly about how Harvard runs practices and what they focus on when working with the team. He said that even Harvard has limited time on the field so the coaches have to figure out how to maximize reps with the little time they have. This is a familiar situation for many teams here in Utah. Ryan gave everyone in attendance a lot of good ideas on how to run practices and what is involved with planning practices for success.
After lunch I joined in on a rules clinic. Jeremy Johnson and Cole Sloan went over all the changes this year. There are many changes and clarification so if you play in high school or coach check out the new rules because there are some big changes such as no 10 second count once the ball is advanced into the offensive box, changes to face-offs, end-cap requirements, offsides and more. I think most of the changes will be good for the game but I know some of the officials I spoke to are a little hesitant about some changes. The more people who know the rules, the more fluid the changes will be.
After the rules clinic I listened to the former Westminster Offensive Coordinator, Brad Levoie, talk about playing lacrosse without the ball. The title of the session was 57 minutes: Lacrosse Without the Ball in Your Stick. Brad gave a very emotionally charged talk about the direction the game is going and why he doesn’t like that direction. I tend to agree with most of what Brad was talking about when he stated that kids have changed and they don’t understand the “team” aspect of the game anymore. He noticed that players don’t move off ball anymore because they are becoming more “bro” or lazy, and they don’t know how to move off ball. He encouraged everyone in the room to teach off ball movement especially the back-cut and the most important lacrosse move, the C-curl.
The next session I sat in on was a film study session with Ryan Glennon. He went over breaking film down and how the coaches at Harvard use the film with their team. I wish we had that much time and ability at the high school level but using film to the extent Harvard or other NCAA D-1 teams do is virtually impossible. However, there are local companies who will film games and break down the film as well. This film is then available online for your players to watch on their own time.
Overall, the convention was a great success in my mind. I learned a ton and it was great to see new coaches and parent reps utilizing this opportunity to continue to learn and gather new information about the game. It really says something when people like Dave Allen and Dave Brattin, who have been around since before aluminum shafts, continue to come to these events and not only support the league but grow and share their lacrosse knowledge with us young bucks.
If you attended the convention please share your thoughts in the ULN Community. I would love to hear what you learned, saw, experience this year or would change at next year’s convention.
Photos courtesy of Haslam Photography