Virginia’s Win Over Maryland Among The Most Wild And Nail Biting Men’s Lacrosse Championships in NCAA History

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Alex Rode makes point blank save to preserve Virginia's Men's Lacrosse national championship

What a game! Virginia got a an incredible point blank save from their goalie Alex Rode to preserve a 17-16 win against Maryland in an instant classic of an NCAA men’s lacrosse championship game Memorial Day 2021 in front of 14,816 spectators in East Hartford, Conn. It was the second consecutive tournament title for the Cavaliers and 7th NCAA Men’s Lacrosse title in school history.

Connor Shellenberger and Matt Moore were the clear offensive stars for Virginia (14-4), each registering four goals and two assists. Shellenberger, a true freshman, was voted the tournament’s most outstanding player for the Cavs. Logan Wisnauskas led the scoring for the Terps (15-1) with five goals and an assist. Maryland ultimately fell one goal short of their bid to be the first undefeated NCAA champ since Virginia’s 17-0 2006 team.

It was a game of wild scoring runs and momentum swings. Maryland notched a 4-2 lead in the first quarter, but the Cavs tallied 6 to take an 8-4 lead midway through the second quarter. The Terrapins got the next three scores before Virginia stopped the run to take a 9-7 into into halftime.

The Terps answered with a three-goal burst to pull even at 11-11 with 11:04 remaining in the third quarter, but the Cavs scored the next five to take their biggest lead of the game at 16-11 near the midpoint of the fourth quarter. The Terps had one more run left in them, scoring the next four to pull within 16-15 with 3:57 to go in the game.

Moore’s fourth goal of the game provided a two-goal cushion for the Cavs, but Anthony DeMaio’s score with 10.8 seconds in regulation gave the Terps one final chance. Luke Wierman won the next faceoff. But Rode, who won most outstanding player during the Cavs 2019 title run, made the last of his 12 saves to preserve the win.

Rode onceded after the game, “It wasn’t my best game in the goal…my defense did a great job all day, so I felt like I owed them one.”

Coach Lars Tiffany stated after the game, “What an incredible experience to be part of such an exciting game. I fell in love with this game in 1983 when I watched Syracuse beat Johns Hopkins 17-16. And lo and behold we had the same score today.”

Maryland, which is played in its 18th consecutive NCAA Tournament, the longest active streak in the nation, now has an all-time record of 66-40, however, with just two championships since 1975, despite consistently fielding elite teams, the program continues to struggle to bring home the title.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton, aka, Dr. Lax, was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is the author of The Man In The White Coat: A Veterinarian’s Tail of Love, president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

How National For Profit Organizations Are Tearing Florida Lacrosse Apart

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They may have offered an olive branch and partial retraction in their letter to the editor to US Lacrosse Magazine and also parted ways with Kevin Dugan, but Sweetlax did not go remotely far enough in making atonement and helping to reverse the damage they wreaked on our previously growing lacrosse community. What happened here, however, is really just a microcosm of what is occurring across the state of Florida youth lacrosse with Sweetlax and others like them vying to carve out their little lacrosse for profit fiefdoms in a still this emerging lacrosse market; and in the process, destroying years of progress made in the sport of lacrosse built mostly on volunteers that love the sport.

Before I go on here, I want to be clear that by “for profit,” I am not lumping in every organization in the state of Florida that runs lacrosse program in a for profit organization. There are many local organizations within the state like Lacrosse Club Orlando that not only honor the game with top notch training programs via paid coaches, but have done their part as much as anyone in growing lacrosse at the youth level in the state of Florida; hence the designation “National” in the title of this post. While seemingly a new national for profit expands into Florida every day, there are three in particular engaged in an epic pissing match for lacrosse supremacy in the state of Florida: The Crabs, True Lacrosse, and the aforementioned Sweetlax.

These organizations have pervaded Florida to recruit our home grown youth lacrosse players with promises of lacrosse glory at the national ranks and dangling the ultimate prize of a college lacrosse scholarships. In many cases they have infiltrated locally built grassroots level lacrosse clubs as “partners” promising to provide coaching pipelines and support the growth of lacrosse. In most cases, these promises have been empty, resulting in few new coaches, no growth support, but significantly increased fees for participation.

Pundits and coaches within these national for profit organizations relentlessly try to convince families of the inferiority of their local club and keep some that drink their Kool-Aid changing lacrosse clubs as often as they change their underwear. As much disregard as they have for grassroots lacrosse clubs, they dislike each other even more. They head hunt one another’s coaches and players and engage in so much vitriol about the opposition that they have parents abysmally behaving on the sidelines during contentious games.

The net result of all this is families being led to believe that their community team is not good enough for their kid, left clamoring to figure out which for profit is the one that will bring their child that coveted lacrosse scholarship, and turning off families new to the sport they once thought was so promising but now dismiss it as a hateful, money grabbing, shit show. Nowhere have these consequences played out to the detriment of lacrosse than in the once thriving Florida lacrosse communities Brevard, Indian River, and Martin Counties, all now experiencing an overall decrease in participation at all levels.

But alas, all is not lost! Our strategy to combat this trend here in Brevard is a renewed focus on youth development and bringing new kids into the sport at a time when they are to young to be on the radar of national for profits. As they age up and are seeking more top level training and competition, we have partnered with Lacrosse Club Orlando to run our travel programs. As previously stated, they are a local for profit in the nearest major city to Brevard County that has grown an impressive and reputable organization that I have always enjoyed mutual respect with when I was the president of the local club here for over 12 years. Being under their umbrella that has enjoyed steady growth while using their scope and depth of organization to keep the circling sharks at bay, we hope to rebuild and insulate ourselves from the chaos wrought by national for profit lacrosse companies.

I would love to read comments about the experience of youth lacrosse in the age of the national for profits in other areas of Florida and around the country. Please feel free to share your experiences and solutions if you can offer any.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton, aka, Dr. Lax, was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is the author of The Man In The White Coat: A Veterinarian’s Tail of Love, president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Meet the Face of Everything That is Wrong with Lacrosse Today

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Kevin Dugan and Sweetlax Destroying Lacrosse in Florida
Kevin Dugan and Sweetlax Destroying Lacrosse in Florida

I created this blog as a celebration of the game that I love, to promote and spread the news of lacrosse. As much as it ails me to have to focus on this negative topic, I feel a duty as a person whose life was blessed with the Creator’s Game and a life long ambassador of the sport to save the game from the likes of Kevin Dugan and the abysmal soulless organization he works for – Sweetlax.

Sweetlax is a for profit lacrosse company that fields teams that play nationally from U12- high school originally created in Upstate NY. Recently, they have made inroads to partner with local clubs in other states, including my home state of Florida, to create Sweetlax regional teams that provide a feeder system into the respective state’s Sweetlax national team to compete nationwide.

They charge large sums of money to participate, but the promise they pitch parents and local clubs is that participation with Sweetlax will give players access to a pipeline of paid college coaches and events that will pave a child’s way to playing lacrosse in college.

The Pitch

I had been the founder and president of Space Coast Lacrosse in the greater Brevard County, Florida region for 10 years when Kevin Dugan, newly appointed Florida Director for Sweetlax, approached me in the early spring of 2019 with his pitch for our club to partner with Sweetlax as a regional club. Having built the club alongside incredibly dedicated fellow volunteers with just under 38 U12-U14 boys in 2009, to as of summer 2020, having fielded several travel teams, the Space Coast Stingrays, winning multiple championships in major lacrosse tournaments in Florida (while having seen many of our athletes go on to successful college playing careers); we were garnering attention.

Kevin pitched our board telling us how Sweetlax and its resources could take us to the next level in player development, college recruitment, and offer a pipeline of well credentialed coaches in partnership with us. The most attractive aspect of his pitch was the coaching pipeline given our lack of experienced coaching available in our still developing lacrosse market. We ultimately decided to take the plunge to give it s shot with Kevin Dugan and Sweetlax.

Promises Unrealized

Right out of the gate, despite a large spike in registration fees, the amazing coaching Kevin Dugan and Sweetlax had promised never really materialized. Most of the coaches they provided were already previously coaching for us, only now they were getting paid substantial coaching stipends. At the U12 level, our youngest division, the coaching was specially inexperienced, the head coach having one year experience as face off coach for Florida Tech with two assistants: a college player with half a season of play under his belt (cut short by COVID) and a high school senior who had just graduated.

As the result, parents were already frustrated, not seeing the value in the higher fees they were paying, and my board was getting complaints even before the first tournament. Still, we wanted to reserve judgment until after the full season played out and while the younger divisions struggled a bit, our High School A Team steam rolled through the first tournament to win a championship in seemingly effortless fashion.

The Incident

Ironically. it would be a few bad apples on our High School A Team that would make our Sweetlax house of cards come crashing down. In a close, chippy, and heated one goal game in the semi-final of the Orlando Open against True Lacrosse there was an altercation at the end of the game between one of our players and one of their players of True Lacrosse players of African American descent that resulted in a racial slur directed their player. Several eyewitnesses at the game also overheard racially charged insults coming from the True Lacrosse player toward ours.

Later that night, the head coach of the the High School A Stingrays team involved briefed me on what had occurred and his intent to eject the player involved from the team. However, at that time, on a separate call, Kevin Dugan recommended that he not eject the player, recommending less drastic disciplinary action, given that there were racial slurs directed both ways.

Kevin’s and Sweetlax’s narrative changed when social media chats allegedly posted by some of our players in the aftermath of the incident that were racially charged were screenshot by the True Lacrosse player involved in the incident and forwarded them to members of the Black Lacrosse Alliance (BLA), a coalition of African American professional lacrosse players that advocate for equality and diversity, and making a stand against racism in the sport of lacrosse. To this day, Sweetlax and the BLA have refused to show us the alleged chat screenshots (more on this below).

This led to Kevin promptly contacting me very concerned that the incident had the potential to “end up on CNN.” He promptly set up a conference call between him, me, and Sweetlax co-owner Joe Huber. In the call we discussed taking decisive action to satisfy the outrage of the BLA. Sweetlax proposed that follow the demand of the BLA that we forfeit all divisions of our teams (U12-High School A) from our third and final tournament of the season, the Father’s Day Invitational in Palm Coast, Florida.

I told them that I understood the need for decisive action and that it would be appropriate to make the High School A team involved in the incident forfeit, but it would be unfair and very difficult to explain such a move to the parents of the kids in the other divisions that were not at all involved or even in the same facility at the time of the incident. I explained from my own personal point of view how sad it would be to notify my 11 year old son that he cannot play in his last tournament of his summer season (and his last season in the U12 division) over an incident he had nothing to do with. Being of mixed race myself (Mom is from Bogota, Colombia; Dad is Irish American from Brooklyn, NY), I – and by extension, my kids – do not have a racist bone in our bodies. Joe Huber was – at least outwardly – sympathetic to this point of view on the call and suggested that we gain additional perspective. This resulted in convening another call with the same people with the addition of the BLA co-founder, Gus Heningberg.

On that call, Gus gave us the perspective of an African American who played this game in the late 70’s in NJ and even there experienced racism while simply trying to play the game he loved. Gus was clear how aggrieved he was that racism still exists in his sport and especially so in Florida. On the subject of cancelling the tournament even for divisions not involved in the incident with True Lacrosse, Gus noted that such a move shows solidarity that we as a club stand against racism and that there is zero tolerance for such behavior. And when each parent of kids not involved in the incident or even on that team has to explain to their son exactly why they he cannot play in the last tourney, he will be made at a young age that such behavior and attitudes are not acceptable; and that we all suffer as a society from racism. It was ultimately the aforementioned follow up social media chats that allegedly involved our players that in Gus’s mind called for this type of action.

Hearing from Gus in this manner was moving and ultimately made more sense to me. For the sake of one tournament, we tell the world that we have zero tolerance for racism, we take a firm stand against it, and learn and grow toward a future of inclusion and diversity. Granted, I would nevertheless take heat from some of the parents of the kids not involved. On this consequence, Gus assured me that I need not worry, that he, Sweetlax, and the BLA would “give you cover and applaud your club for taking a stand.” He then added, “you will come out of this a stronger and better club for it.”

The very next day, ready to move on, learn, and grow from the incident and its aftermath, Sweetlax posted the following statement to its national membership severing ties with Space Coast Lacrosse, completely throwing us under the bus, and washing their hands of the any and all responsibility.

https://spacecoast.sweetlaxlacrosse.com/?p=2984

So much for giving us cover and applauding our stand. If you take a moment to read the post, you will see this key statement, “How will we change? To begin, we have immediately revoked our affiliation and severed our ties with the Space Coast Stingrays. As a part of our investigation, we discovered a pattern of behavior that is not consistent with our mission or values.”

The truth is that their “investigation” conducted over one day consisted of a Zoom call with the three African American players True Lacrosse players. They did not conduct one single interview with any of the Stingrays coaching staff, none of the referees officiating the game, one single board members, or one parent. Their only correspondence with me was about damage control, never once even bothering to ask me if I have observed systemic racism as Space Coast Lacrosse founder and only president for 10 years.

With regard to those screenshot chats, we learned from questioning our players why they were never shared with us…it was a public chat where most post anonymously and there was no way to verify who made the posts. In the course of questioning our players, we learned that there were two individuals from the team that the posts in question may have come from. Incidentally, those players were new to the Stingrays having previously played for a club to the south of us who tried out for Stingrays lured in with the Sweetlax brand.

Nowhere in their statement does Sweetlax acknowledge that the coaches of that team were THEIR OWN COACHES on THEIR PAYROLL, all hired by none other than Kevin Dugan. They accept no responsibility whatsoever in this regard other than implying their mistake in partnering with a racist club.

The Aftermath

We felt slandered, used, and abused by Sweetlax; crumpled up and thrown in the trash for the sake of their damage control. The truth about our organization is that we have always been inclusive and welcoming to kids and parents of all races since our inception. The incident was regrettable and we as a club and a community denounce any and all forms of bigotry and racism and had a zero tolerance policy in place long before Sweetlax ever came long.

President Obama recently spoke of the “cancel culture” that has arisen in our country that that it only widens our divides and does not seek to mend them and move forward with common purpose. Rather than allow us to grow, learn and move forward with the common goal of diversity and zero tolerance, to protect their profits at all cost, Sweetlax did just that, they cancelled us.

As the result of the Sweetlax statement, participation is down for this fall’s rec seasons. General membership and player numbers are down. The club did not field a boys high school travel team this fall given players’ fears that playing under the stigma of the team that Sweetlax branded the racist club they have no use for would hurt college recruitment.

Nonetheless, Space Coast Lacrosse still managed to field a U14 boys travel team this fall. The club has fielded middle school and high school girls Space Coast Stingrays fall travel teams, and the rec season had reduced participation overall, but were strong in the 4-9 year old divisions creating a foundation for the future. Space Coast Lacrosse is looking forward to fielding high school boys travel teams once again in the summer.

Sweetlax and Kevin Dugan Strike Again

I have since retired from my position as president of the club, not even coaching anymore, just enjoying watching my 12 year old son Austin play attack on the the Space Coast Stingrays U14 boys travel team. and my daughter play middie in the U10 girls rec division. This last crisis simply proved to be the last straw for me, feeling that it had drawn the last vestiges of joy in club leadership for me.

Before leaving the board, we had all collectively discovered that, while we regret that our separation from Sweetlax happened in such a blaze of glory and under the ugly dark cloud of racism, we were ultimately lucky that they discarded us to save their own skin. We learned their true colors and what matters most to them and its not lacrosse or the kids.

In the midst of our board minding its own business and going about the task of rebuilding and me enjoying life as a private citizen, Sweetlax had to add insult to injury and orchestrate this article in the November issue of US Lacrosse Magazine:

https://www.uslaxmagazine.com/fuel/us-lacrosse/no-racism-allowed-sweet-laxs-zero-tolerance-policy-after-july-26-incident

In the article, Kevin Dugan recounts the entire racial incident in the most BS terms, actually portraying himself as a hero for race relations in lacrosse and Sweetlax a champion for standing against racism in the sport of lacrosse.

Let’s be clear, until there was pressure from the BLA, Kevin Dugan’s initial response to the incident was not even to dismiss the player directly involved from the team! Their interest in decisive action and race relations in lacrosse period, came out of fear of bad publicity.

It was not enough that they threw us and the game of lacrosse as it exists in the Space Coast under the bus to save their skin. Now they are exploiting the incident to gain publicity at our expense and kick us when we are down.

Shame them and shame on especially you Kevin Dugan, trying to stamp out lacrosse for generations, perhaps indefinitely in my area after years of growing the sport before the slimy likes you came along.

But they will not have the last word here, as now they have gone too far. I will leave it to our capable board of directors to deal with the libel and slander legal side of this article (in posting this article, US Lacrosse violated every journalistic standard known to man). I will instead appeal to the court of public opinion.

In course of 10 years, I have garnered friendships across the lacrosse landscape in Florida and still maintain great friendships in the sport in NJ where I was raised playing the game and played in college. Thus, in the aftermath of Sweetlax, I received an outpouring of support and love from many. I also learned so much about Sweetlax and how they conduct business and heard so many stories of abysmal behavior from Sweetlax.

No longer constrained by the political correctness necessary to serve on a board of directors, I will share with my audience the truth about Sweetlax and its slimy directors like Kevin Dugan and why they and other for profit organizations like them are destroying the sport of lacrosse.

Watch out Kevin Dugan and Sweetlax, I am just getting warmed up!

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton, aka, Dr. Lax, was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is the author of The Man In The White Coat: A Veterinarian’s Tail of Love, president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Lacrosse in the Age of Coronavirus

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2020 college lacrosse hopefuls missed out on prospect days due to COVID-19

Hello again lax lovers! I am sorry about my long absence from blogging and podcasting. While a large portion of the country had nothing but free time to fill during the novel coronavirus shelter in place, my day job as a veterinarian was considered essential and I actually got busier! Although we are far from back to normal, with the dust settling from the initial shock of coronavirus and we get back to the business of life, it is time to get back to the business and fun of lacrosse!

Like all other sports, lacrosse was turned upside down with the arrival of coronavirus, aka, COVID-19, to our shores. Our spring youth and high school seasons were cancelled, as were college seasons. Thankfully, our professional leagues (MLL and PLL), while the seasons were delayed and condensed, still able to be played out, albeit without any fans like the rest of professional sports.

In most regions of the country, as reopening plans began in early summer, summer tournaments were able to be played, just pushed further into the summer season. COVID-19 measures were in place to get back to playing the fastest game on two feet, but most people (at least in my experience) were so grateful to be experiencing the normalcy that is summer tournament lacrosse, that they did not care…even wearing a mask in the height of the summer heat and humidity here in Florida.

The biggest group of lacrosse players that I feel for, however, are the so called high school “bubble” players on the college lacrosse recruitment radar; the boys and girls aged 16-18 who still had yet to commit to to a college lacrosse school. These are the players that may have been slow developers that had yet to break into the notice of college scouts, or at least scouts from schools which they desired to play for. The cancellation of college recruitment showcases they were counting on to have one last chance to show their skills on the national stage was nothing short of devastating.

Of course there were the high school and college senior that had their final seasons cancelled. The senior season in any sport holds a special place for an athlete as the culmination of a career. For a majority of high school seniors not slated to play in college, their last season of organized lacrosse ended after the first few games or for some, before the first whistle ever blew to commence the 2020 season.

For college seniors, the NCAA extended eligibility for another year for all players that lost the 2020 season which was a kind gesture. However, most seniors have since graduated and could not enroll full time to take advantage of the additional season of eligibility.

Let us all hope that through vaccine and herd immunity we can move past the COVID-19 pandemic and get back to enjoying so many aspects of our lives that we previously took for granted!

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton, aka, Dr. Lax, was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is the author of The Man In The White Coat: A Veterinarian’s Tail of Love, president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.


Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) Expanding Following Successful Inaugural Season

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Premier Lacrosse League Expands For Season 2

Paul Rabil’s professional lacrosse league, the Premier Lacrosse League, aka, PLL, enjoyed a great deal success in its first year. The league brought unprecedented exposure to lacrosse with its tour based model, able to hit 14 markets with its 6 teams, as opposed to being only able to hit 6 markets with a city based team model – arguably the biggest obstacle in having made the longer standing Major League Lacrosse (MLL) fully take off. In an era where young lacrosse fans are more attached to particular professional lacrosse players rather than an actual team, the tour based model seems to fit with the modern lacrosse fan and the PLL will be expanding into a 7th team for its second season on the heals of its success.

The PLL succeeded in not only filling venues more effectively than any previous professional lacrosse league, it also gained invaluable and unprecedented television exposure. 3 PLL games were broadcast on NBC, 16 were broadcast on NBCSN and every game was available to stream on NBC Sports Gold.

To fill roster slots for the as yet to be named 7th PLL team, the league will be holding an expansion draft in February 2020. Up next for Rabil and the league will be, per SportsBusiness.com, to try selecting smaller venues for the tour dates. Although fan attendance was larger than any previous professional lacrosse leagues, they still fell well short of capacity playing in venues generally designed for much larger Major League Soccer game attendance numbers. Showing a large number of empty seats makes for a bad visual on TV and takes away from fan energy when a hosting venue is largely empty.

As reported by Sport Illustrated, Rabil is also targeting more evening game slots on NBC networks to increase viewership, fully integrated partnerships with youth lacrosse tournaments and leagues to drive attendance, along with a change in ticketing strategy.


Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton, aka, Dr. Lax, was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is the author of The Man In The White Coat: A Veterinarian’s Tail of Love, president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.


Virginia Uses Grit To Bring Home A Lacrosse National Championship

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Virginia Wins College Lacrosse National Championship

On paper, it was hard to envision Virginia being able to contain Yale’s fire power, the defending champions that averaged 15 goals per game for the entire post season. Even with veritable stars in their own right with the likes of attackman Matt Moore, Dave Smith, Matt Kraus and midfielder Ryan Conrad, Virginia had their work cut out for them in slowing the offensive juggernaut that is the Yale Bulldogs.

So how did Virginia not only slow Yale’s high tempo, high powered offensive attack, but stymie it? By turning the National Championship game into slug fest that they clearly were on the winning side of.

Right out of the gate, Virginia played aggressive defense, double teaming the ball at every opportunity, swarming ground balls, and delivering big hits; meanwhile managing to bring their hard nosed style of lacrosse yet staying out of the penalty box.

The result was Yale being taken out of their rhythm, often off balanced, and losing possessions. It also did not hurt that Alex Rode played outstanding in the goal, earning the most valuable player honors.

Even when Yale seemed to return to the form we have been accustomed to when they closed the gap to 6-4 right out of the opening of the second half, Virginia stayed the course in unwavering fashion and just kept playing their game. Virginia reminded us today that as much as lacrosse has changed with the rules scaling back some of the brutality of the game for safety’s sake, there is still plenty of room for playing tough, aggressively and physically dominating the other team from ground balls, to defensive traps and aggressive rides.

Make no mistake, Matt Moore, Matt Kraus, Ryan Conrad and company displayed some incredible feats of lacrosse skill to bring to Yale today. But in the end, it was the focus on the basic fundamentals of boxing out, scrapping for ground balls, playing great individual and team defense, and being physical that won the day today.


Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM andDr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.


An Easy And Fun Way To Grow Lacrosse

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6U Coed Soft Lacrosse

We have three major barriers to parents being willing to give lacrosse a chance. In emerging lacrosse markets, first and foremost, it is many viewing the sport of lacrosse as some weird activity that does not qualify as real sport in comparison to the more traditional sports (soccer, basketball, football, baseball). Second and third barriers are combined in that they are related: the cost of equipment (especially for boys) for young children who may lose interest in the sport at some point and losing young children to other traditional sports at young ages due to far less investment in gear being necessary. Buying a set of chin guards for a child to play soccer, for example, is far less of a financial commitment than $270 in gear plus US Lacrosse membership and league registration fees.

In order to address these barriers to entry, the Brevard Lacrosse Alliance, the club I have presided over for 10 years, has adopted a 6U coed soft lacrosse division. The club made the initial investment in beginner boys sticks, protective goggles that are worn in the girls game, and soft lacrosse balls that are weighted to be similar to standard lacrosse balls to facilitate easier weighted ball handling without the sting of a standard ball should one get hit with one. The sticks have standard heads and are cut down to 30 inches. Thus, all the parents are on the hook for is US Lacrosse and league registration fees and a protective mouthpiece. The kids play on a modified 55 x 30 yard field with 4 x 4 goals with targets.

In our first experiment with this in this year’s spring season, we have 12 boys and girls registered all aged 4 and 5 years. The kids are having a blast learning the game and the parents are really enjoying it as well. What’s more, getting the parents out on the field to see what lacrosse looks like with the more experienced older divisions playing on adjacent fields give them a glimpse of how their little ones will be playing the game one day if they stick with it. Most are impressed with the speed, athleticism, and aesthetics of the game.

For those moving up to the 8U division next season when the kids are split by gender and full gear will be required, having had the 6U soft lacrosse experience will (at least we hope) make the investment in gear a bit more palatable with the sport no longer being so foreign to the parents and their children already enjoying it.

From my beginnings as a coach and eventually a youth lacrosse club president, I have always maintained that the sport of lacrosse sells itself as long as we can get parents and kids exposure to it. Having a 6U coed soft lacrosse division enables getting parents and kids in front of the sport at very young ages, setting the foundation for bottom up growth, the very best model to grow any youth sport.


Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM andDr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.


Is The Premier Lacrosse League The Future Of Pro Lacrosse?

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Premier Lacrosse League

At the time of the inception of the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) set for its inaugural season in summer 2019, there already were two professional lacrosse leagues: the Canadian based indoor box National Lacrosse League (NLL) and the U.S. based field Major League Lacrosse (MLL). Although there was some overlap of the MLL and NLL seasons, for the most part they were different times of the year (MLL summer and NLL winter) and the leagues did not compete while offering vastly different lacrosse products. Several professional lacrosse players, including the PLL founder and lacrosse super star Paul Rabil, even played in both leagues concurrnetly.

With the creation of the new tour style PLL, however, the question remains, will Paul Rabil and his new league take pro lacrosse to another level or will it simply serve to further water down a still relatively small and already split sport fan base? No one can really predict the outcome for certain but most agree that something needed to change and MLL’s biggest star was no longer willing to sit back and wait for that much needed change.

Paul Rabil is one of the few lacrosse players that managed to make a very successful living from professional lacrosse. He accomplished this by teaming up with brother Mike Rabil and essentially creating a media company that promoted his brand through video, podcast, and social media, and building a fan base that helped him rake in endorsements. Beyond his exceptional talent, Rabil created a marketable and recognizable brand that made him the name and face of lacrosse to make him the sport’s first million dollar man.

For most others, with MLL season salaries averaging $8000 per year, the vast majority of players need to hold full time jobs which essentially makes playing pro lacrosse little more than a hobby for the most talented lacrosse athletes in the world. The end result is that the league stays very young with most players bowing out while still in their 20’s to focus on careers that they can make a living conducive to marriage and having a family.

Beyond the experience of the players, however, the lack of growth and success of the MLL has stagnated and is even showing signs of contracting. Rabil noted that even as he was earning a pair of MVP awards and two titles as a pro, still “the peak of stardom remains the Final Four,” the Men’s Division I NCAA championship that draws tens of thousands of fans over Memorial Day weekend. Rabil’s Johns Hopkins teammate and pro lacrosse star in his own right, Kyle Harrison said, “I won a national title in front of 50,000 people at Lincoln Financial Field [in Philadelphia]. The next week I’m playing on a back field at Rutgers in front of 400.”

Last season average attendance in the nine-team MLL was 3,619, the lowest it has been since 2003. On top of that, players’ travel and accommodations are considered by many players to be sub-par for a league that has been in existence since 2002. My good friend Brian Megill, a former star and 3 year veteran of the MLL, took an offered opportunity to play for the New England Blackwolves in the NLL. While the base pay was not much better, Brian shared with me that at least the NLL (or at least this particular franchise) treated its players like professional athletes. Brian told me at the time that the contrasting experience was part of his calculation when he decided not to return to the MLL for a fourth season.

After 11 seasons in MLL, during which he became the all-time scoring leader, Rabil decided he’d had enough and announced the formation of his own pro lacrosse circuit: the Premier Lacrosse League, set to begin play June 1, 2019. The PLL will offer geographic fluidity, consisting of six teams with rosters of 28 players each; but no team will claim a city as its home.

Instead, 14 summer weekends (which will include an All-Star Game and a championship), the whole league will play tour style with play dates in 12 major cities, playing in two of them twice.). The league will coordinate travel, housing and practice sites such that teammates will not need to live in or near the same city.

The tour-based model also intends to address the biggest challenge faced by any startup league: venues. The MLL is forced to design its schedule around the availability of stadiums of severely contrasting capacities. For example, the Denver Outlaws usually fill about one-tenth of the 76,125 seats at Broncos Stadium at Mile High, while the Florida Launch drew an average crowd size of 2298 in the 38,000 seat Florida Atlantic University stadium. The PLL, on the other hand, will have the ability to rent more appropriately sized stadiums one weekend at a time, focusing all its resources on building a festival-like atmosphere around the three games it will play there.

The PLL also promises to reach more viewers by having signed a deal with NBC which will broadcast 17 games on NBC Sports Network, stream 20 on NBC Sports Gold service and air two on its main network . By contrast, the only ability for fans to watch MLL games is by stream through the Lax Sports Network, a service only lacrosse fans are going to have. By branching into a major network, the PLL hopes to reach new fans to grow the sport further into the mainstream.

Whether or not the Premier Lacrosse League is the answer to overcoming the professional lacrosse plateau that the current leagues have not, there is already a buzz and excitement about the league in the lacrosse community. With Rabil and his star power and marketing prowess having been one of the drivers behind growing the MLL to where it is today, given his past success, one has to be hopeful that this will be his next crowning achievement that all lacrosse enthusiasts may benefit from.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM andDr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Lacrosse Culture – Profiles In Entrepreneurship: Brian Megill

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Lacrosse is unique as a sport in that it attracts not just the desire to be great in sport, but high academic and career achievement outside of sport.  This is one reason why high academic achievement and Ivy League colleges are commonly contenders for national championships…look no further than 2018 National Champions Yale University.

Creators Game celebrates this aspect of lacrosse and the entrepreneurial spirit the sport fosters among its participants with this series Lacrosse Culture – Profiles In Entrepreneurship.  Today we showcase Syracuse legend, MLL & NLL Pro, and Team USA member Brian Megill and his company Host Events Inc.

Brian Megill Lacrosse Legend and Entrepreneur

 

Host Events, Inc. Co-Founded by Syracuse Lacrosse grad Brian Megill and his business partner, Michelle Carazas in 2017, is a mobile platform connecting cities best bartenders with events looking for a bar presence. Whether a corporate function or home gathering, Host Events, Inc. can help elevate the occasion.  

On a weekly basis, people requested our services as a bartender for private events or special occasions with no formalized process or contract. We realized that many times people were desperate to find the perfect bartender to ensure the success of an event or even to ensure their establishments would realize their full economic potential on a Friday night.

After conducting significant research and surveys coupled with endless amounts of brainstorming between the founders, we began to realize that no current platform existed that connects those hosting parties with professional, reliable and certified bartenders/mixologists. As simple as Uber connects drivers with riders, Host connects bartenders with event hosts.

Market research analysis concludes that businesses of over 10 or more employees are offering more corporate appreciation events outside of the office to increase employee retainment. This, in turn, leads to a rise in event planning services. With businesses in the United States expected to grow in size by .8 percent over the next five years, these companies are going to be looking for larger venues and more amenities to accommodate the growth in the workforce. According to Bank of America’s 2015 Small Business Owner Report, 45 percent of small- to medium-size businesses sponsored a holiday dinner in 2015, up 2 percent from 2013. These numbers are projected to continue to increase steadily over the next five years. According to Issue-Based Information System, corporations are likely to allocate more money toward social events over the next five years.

Host Events, Inc. is a double-faced platform similar to Uber and Airbnb. One side is created for those hosting the event and the other is geared towards certified bartenders. Event hosts will be able to post their events well in advance through Host, denoting dates, times and locations. Once an event is posted, certified bartenders within a certain radius will receive the notification, allowing them to “apply” to the event. Event hosts will then be able to select their choice from the applicants based on qualifications and ratings.

Host Events Inc, launched in the IOS AppStore in Boston in May of 2018, through support from its recent six-figure backing from LaunchByte CEO Tan Kabra and his team at Boston based seed-funding firm, LaunchByte. The partnership has taken Host from pen and paper to the app store.

To learn more about Host Events, Inc., visit hello@hostdrinks.com or reach out directly to its founders at brian@hostdrinks.com.

 

The As Lacrosse Grows, Diversity Of Players Does Not

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Diversity Still Lacking In Lacrosse

Lacrosse continues to spread as America’s fastest growing sport, yet its participants remain primarily affluent white.  86% of college lacrosse players are white and when we narrow down our focus to Division I lacrosse, the number of white players increases to 98.1%.  Despite NFL Hall of Fame running back legend Jim Brown (an African American man) taking great pride in his legendary lacrosse career at Syracuse and remaining an active ambassador for the game, as well as lacrosse showcasing extremely talented and charismatic African American players like Chazz Woodson, Miles Jones, and  Tari Kandemiri; there remains a glaring lack of African American and other minority participation in the sport.  This is very odd in a sport whose origins trace back to the indigenous Native American people of North American continent.

Why is this the case?  From my own observation though the years dating back to when I played youth ball, I have learned that there are multiple reasons for lingering lack of diversity in the game of lacrosse.

Cost

This was more a factor in the 80’s and 90’s than it is today when one did not see as many African Americans living in affluent middle class and wealthy communities as we do now, as African Americans were beginning to transcend generations of oppression in the United States and increasingly join the ranks of middle class, upper middle class and wealthy suburbia.  In more urban and inner city communities where a higher percentage of African American people lived (and to a large degree still do today), schools simply would not or could not invest precious little financial resources into offering a sport that was so far outside of the main stream.  For those areas, that remains largely unchanged.

The cost of gear for families was and is a significant barrier to entry into the sport.  While most schools that have lacrosse provide equipment for the players during the spring season, in a sport where participation in club teams, camps, and prospect events, it really has become essential for players to have their own gear.

Still, in my generally affluent home town  of Viera, Florida where like other middle class communities communities across the nation there is a refreshing shift with increasing populations of African American families adding diversity to suburbia, money for these families is generally not a significant barrier to participation.  This bring me to my next point.

Culture

I recall when my friends and I were all falling in love with the sport of lacrosse as kids and much to the chagrin of our fathers we gave up baseball.  Having grown up idolizing the stars of the national past time in an area steeped in the tradition of the NY Yankees, NY Mets, and Brooklyn Dodgers, many of our dads were confounded that we would give up baseball for this weird sport called lacrosse.  Of course over time watching our games and experiencing the exhilaration of the fastest game on 2 feet we changed their hearts and minds, it did not happen over night.

Beyond being a sport that was foreign to our fathers, they also would say things like, “there’s no money in lacrosse,” suggesting that we were potentially throwing away a lucrative Major league Baseball contract one day by choosing lacrosse over baseball.  While a tiny select few reach the ranks of Division I college and professional in all sports, the vast majority athletes will not.  As such, becoming a professional athlete as primary motivation for participating in youth and high school sports is very misplaced motivation.  Try telling our fathers that in the mid 80’s.

When a small group of individuals started lacrosse here in 2008, we got the same push back from even white affluent parents, but again gradually won many of their hearts and minds as they accepted and later embraced the sport of lacrosse.  To this day, however,as our lacrosse club grows exponentially each year, African American participation remains sorely lacking despite us marketing to the same schools their children attend and holding free introductory clinics in the parks of the community they live in.

I got some insight as to why this is one year when my son played a season of tackle football and I befriended the many parents of my son’s African American teammates.  Naturally, I was recruiting for lacrosse while I was playing the rare role of sideline parent and in the course of several conversations I had, I learned that families simply retain a cultural hangover from a time in the not so far off past when because of lack of equal opportunity, sports were viewed by in large as a primary means to an education and even a path to wealth that becoming a professional athlete would bring.

A More Diverse Future In Lacrosse

Having seen the barriers that the sport of lacrosse has overcome in the years I have participated in the game, I hold great hope that we will at some point make inroads in drawing more minority participants.  With US Lacrosse initiatives including their First Stick program where they provide equipment grants to urban and less affluent suburban communities and the Urban Lacrosse Alliance that is dedicated to creating and sustaining urban youth lacrosse programs, slowly but surely we will see a day when lacrosse is a staple sport representing many classes ans cultures.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.