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Archive for Lacrosse

Jan. 5, 2020 — The end of a simple philosophy?

For the last 20 years, this site has been making note of what makes successful teams in the sporting world, and the very important role of coaching and making the right people buy into that coach’s philosophy.

The greatest example I have seen in all of sport the last few years is the connection and leadership between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots.

Belichick has one simple mantra, one which has actually made its way as a series of mini-documentary programs by NFL Films.

The mantra: “Do your job.”

So simple. And yet so difficult.

When I watch teams like the Eastern field hockey and McDonogh girls’ lacrosse, there is certainly something to be said about how just about any coach could win with the talent pool on the teams that have won games, seasons, and championships. It wouldn’t happen without a coaching staff who knows not only how to put the right talent in the right positions, but who also know the players most likely to buy into the system.

In other words, the players who would do their jobs.

After last night’s New England loss, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether the partnership between Brady and Belichick will continue. That’s up to ownership and whether Brady wants to go through another season.

Dec. 21, 2019 — A regrettable push of the judiciary envelope

PARENTAL ADVISORY: If you are a minor, you may wish to have a parent read this alongside you.


Part of the story of the advancing of field hockey and lacrosse across the country the last quarter-century is the fact that the demand for youth coaching is such that there is, frankly, a shortage of competent coaching to go around.

Low teacher pay and convoluted employment regulations in certain locations have led to some coaching positions being a revolving door, and others becoming open doors to potential criminals.

This space has chronicled more than a half-dozen incidents involving inappropriate relationships between coaches and students, but an incident revealed this past week goes far beyond morals charges.

Gary Reburn, the former girls’ lacrosse coach at Bethesda Walter Johnson (Md.), is currently awaiting extradition from the United Kingdom on charges involving an elaborate kidnapping scheme involving three other adults.

According to a news release from the Department of Justice’s Western District of Virginia, Reburn’s girlfriend hatched a plot to kidnap five children living in two deparate residences in Dayton, Va., to keep and raise them themselves after executing their parents.

The plot was seen through to a home invasion last summer, only to see one of the parents in the first house escape and notify police. The police took one of the conspirators into custody; that conspirator pleaded guilty last week and is now facing life in prison.

“Although the facts of this case read like the script of a bad horror movie, the defendants’ murderous plot was real and it posed a grave risk to their intended victims,” U.S. Attorney Thomas Curran said in a press release.

Reburn, who had resigned from his coaching position at Walter Johnson before the attempted kidnapping, was one of two gunmen who broke into the house and were presumably going to murder the parents of the five children. Once the plot was broken up, however, Reburn, his girlfriend, and the wife of the captured co-conspirator fled to Maryland, then to Europe.

As far as we can tell, none of the members of the Walter Johnson lacrosse team were in any kind of peril. The kidnapping plot was hatched only after Reburn had resigned from the job after the 2018 season.

However, I think the hiring practices for coaches in the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), one of the largest school systems in this country, may require a revisit.

Dec. 19, 2019 — A powerful expansion in one sport (thus far)

Today, it was reported that the University of North Carolina at Charlotte would be adding a women’s team sport.

And, by 2022, women’s lacrosse will be a part of the athletic offerings in a school located in a city that is now one of the most important financial centers in the United States. Charlotte is slated to become the seventh NCAA Division I university to offer women’s lacrosse.

I’ve known for years that the school has been aiming to develop a competitive football team in Conference USA. As such, the school needs to add more women’s athletic teams to create Title IX balance.

There is a good argument for the school to begin a field hockey program, as central North Carolina has become a tremendous breeding ground for new scholastic programs. The city had both finalists in the public-school and the private-school state tournaments in 2019. The problem, of course, is that the only other Conference USA team playing field hockey is Old Dominion, which competes in the Big East in that sport.

But the potential benefit of UNC-Charlotte picking up the sport is the fact that several C-USA schools are located near places where field hockey is present, such as Western Kentucky, Texas-San Antonio, and North Texas State. I would think having a Charlotte field hockey program might be the touch paper that ignites college field hockey in the deep South.

Let’s see what happens.

 

Dec. 14, 2019 — Brittany Stevens, 1999-2019

They’ll remember Brittany Stevens today at a Celebration of Life service in Catonsville, Md.

That such an occasion is necessary is a tragedy.

The LaSalle University women’s lacrosse player died suddenly a week ago, leaving behind a disbelieving family, team, and friends.

Stevens was a four-sport athlete Catonsville (Md.), playing basketball, aquatics, field hockey and lacrosse. She helped lead the Catonsville girls’ lacrosse team to the 2014 state final.

Upon her matriculation to LaSalle, she became a key player on attack. After playing in ever game her freshman season, she had seven starts a year ago for the Explorers, which finished 5-11.

Off the pitch, Stevens was a traveler. She was involved in Habitat for Humanity in Atlanta, and participated in overseas trips to Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Kenya.

But what seemed to distinguish Stevens from her peers, according to her obituary, was her positive attitude. She liked to make people laugh, and, according to the text of her obit, would ask family members, “What made you laugh today?”

That’s a great thing to remember her by. Rest in peace, Brittany.

Dec. 4, 2019 — Coming soon: a smaller game with a bigger debut

A couple of weekends ago, the U.S. women’s national lacrosse team played a Women’s Professional Lacrosse League all-star team in the Fall Classic.

There weren’t that many people to bear witness to the 6-v-6 game played to the proposed “Olympic” rules, but in a couple of years, there’s going to be a more sizable audience for the new rules package.

That audience is going to be the World Games, which are coming in 2021 to Birmingham, Ala.

The World Games are an international multisport competition on par with the Olympics, but feature athletic competitions which are not found there. These include games such as indoor field hockey, bowling, netball, and various combat sports such as karate, sumo, and kickboxing.

Lacrosse’s brave new first step on the international scene will feature eight teams in teach competition, and there are no slouches in either the men’s or women’s tournaments. The United States, Canada, Team GB, and Australia are the medal favorites, though the Stars and Stripes will be expected to win, being the home team.

And I’ll be interested to see whether this bastardized form of the game will survive the scrutiny of two eight-team international tournaments.

Nov. 27, 2019 — Contrary to the concept

This website, for the past 21 years, has endeavored to cover the good that happens in field hockey and women’s lacrosse. We’ve seen achievements and accomplishments which Constance Applebee and Rosabelle Sinclair could have only dreamed of when they taught their respective games to their students a century ago.

But occasionally, there is other news, the kind which makes your heart sink.

On Monday, a pair of women’s lacrosse players on the varsity roster of Life University were charged for their part in an armed robbery of a suburban Atlanta party being held at an Air BnB property.

Lauren Riley and Lyndsey Kallish, two sophomores, face 19 charges, including multiple counts of armed robbery, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and a single charge of first-degree home invasion. It is alleged they scouted a party in the Air BnB before two armed men robbed partygoers of cash, cell phones, and sneakers.

Riley and Kallish both participated in the inaugural season of Life University’s team, which competes at the NAIA level. The Eagles finished with a record of 7-8.

 

Nov. 7, 2019 — An educational windfall, and an opportunity

Yesterday, an educational proposal worth some $2.2 billion was unveiled, promising curriculum changes, and new school and infrastructure construction for the State of Maryland.

The announcement follows on the funding plan assembled by the Kirwan Commission, a blue-ribbon panel of experts. Using casino and money from an educational trust fund, the plans would expand pre-K, increase salaries, implement advanced curriculum, target funding towards underperforming schools, and add a mechanism for accountability.

Education, it seems, will be on the mind of many Maryland legislators during the 2020 legislative session, which occurs between the first week of January and the first week of April.

And, I think, there is an opportunity here to rectify an imbalance — actually, several of them.

In field hockey and lacrosse, the regular season in the state of Maryland is just 12 games, the shortest mandated regular seasons in the nation for these two sports.

But change is slow and frustrating in The Free State. To make any sort of substantive change requires an act of the state legislature, not a rule passed by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, since the MPSSAA is part of the Maryland Department of Education.

I did an interview back in 2000 with Lil Shelton, the head field hockey coach at Severna Park (Md.), who expressed frustration with the way that scholastic sports were run in the state. It had taken a lot of her social capital to get a friend of hers to introduce a resolution allowing field hockey (and other sports) to add an in-season tournament of up to two games to the schedule.

But I’m looking to do more. I’m drafting an actual legislative bill, with the working title the Schedule Equity Act (or SEA) of 2020.

What it would do is direct the MPSSAA to adopt schedule lengths dependent upon the average of the four surrounding U.S. states — Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia. We would have included the District of Columbia, but the DCIAA has a much smaller athletics footprint (except for football and basketball), and their numbers might affect the averages.

So, here’s a listing of sports, the length of season for the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, and the average for the four surrounding states (three in the case of field hockey and lacrosse, because neither sport is officially sanctioned by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission):

SPORT MPSSAA AVG
Field hockey 12 16.3
Football 10 10
Cross Country 10 14.25
Soccer 12 17.75
Volleyball 15 19.75
Basketball 20 21.5
Swimming 12 14.75
Indoor Track 10 12.3
Wrestling 14 17.5
Baseball 18 22.5
Softball 18 22.5
Golf 12 15.75
Tennis 18 17.75
Outdoor track 10 14.5
Lacrosse 12 15.6

Only one sport remains constant across all five juristictions: football, as all play a 10-game regular season.

There are some interesting variations in other athletic endeavors. West Virginia boosts the games-played average in baseball and softball because they have a 32-game regular season in comparison to the 18 in Maryland and Delaware.

Virginia drags down the average in both indoor and outdoor track, with just 10 dual meets allowed in their regular season — presumably, the work gets done in the VHSL during District, Regional, and State all-comers meets.

Our scenario, if enacted, would direct all but two athletic activities in the MPSSAA’s purview — football and tennis — to increase their regular-season schedules. These increases would be at least two games per sport, and as many as six for soccer.

The argument about why scholastic sports team schedules should expand is as simple as equality. With Maryland being such a small state, there could be a danger of athletic flight, with families moving over state lines in order to give their children a better environment for playing the sport they love at their school.

But there’s also another reason. Players and coaches in Maryland have the same 12 weeks together as a team as other teams in neighboring states. There should be more games in Maryland so that players aren’t training day after day late in the season with little to do unless you’re a playoff team.

Having an extra two to four games in a season also won’t cost schools all that much money, since the uniforms, sticks, trainers, and playing fields are already paid for. And with more than $2.2 billion coming in from casino and other funding, opportunities should be opened for existing sports teams.

Over the course of months, I’ll try to bring you some progress reports as to how this bill goes through the process. I’ll try to take you into the smoky backrooms as legislators talk up this bill. Heck, if this gets enough popular support (i.e., goes viral), perhaps your Founder might have to register as a lobbyist.

And wouldn’t that be something?