How do you summarize three days into one word? Seemingly a difficult task. Upon reflection, though it was surprisingly easy. The LaxCon experience was about recognizing, respecting and sharing a CULTURE.
We've said it before and so do others - the lacrosse community feels like a family. LaxCon is like an annual family reunion...US Lacrosse makes LaxCon easy for new members of the lacrosse community to fold themselves into that family.
How is US Lacrosse making it easy for fans to participate?
1) Amazing value makes attending easy: We brought the whole family. For those who haven't gone but are considering a trip next year, bringing the kids is a no-brainer. LaxCon had a Fan Fest ticket that got them access to the expo and the demo fields - ten bucks with a pre-purchase...
2) Access to the best of the best: We saw and spoke to popular players (Kelly Rabil) and coaches (Jim Stagnitta) to say nothing about getting our picture taken with Taylor Cummings while on the Starbucks line, getting training tips from US coach Jay Dyer.
But past the cheap tickets and the opportunity to see the greatest in the game up close and personal, there was a real lesson to take away from LaxCon.
3) The Lesson: Of course each speaker had an assigned topic about off-season training, defensive drills or setting picks - on the surface that was their reason to be at LaxCon. BUT if you paid careful attention, every interaction had a common thread. Every person was there to invest in the CULTURE OF THE GAME. To a person, there was a shared love of the sport and a desire to see it simultaneously shared and maintained.
How do you invest in the culture of a sport like lacrosse? The challenge is obvious - with lacrosse growing faster than any other youth sport, it takes commitment from all stakeholders to see that expansion done with authenticity. We heard three key ways that stakeholders can focus on to keep the game's integrity high and it's lessons intact:
1) Keeping the human connection front and center. Matthew Nein from Salisbury shared the importance of small physical connections between players (like high fives) to keep the human connection strong. Mike Daly from Brown University focused on how so many of his mentors in the game were other very competitive coaches.
2) Maintaining the integrity of the game. As equipment changes The Thompson Brothers reminded us to maintain connected to the origin of the game. They highlighted how empowering the physical connection to a traditional stick was for them - and how if you are confident in how your stick works, you will play better.
NB: In our house we will be stringing a stick this week - in an effort to keep our youth player rooted in that same tradition.
3) Educating stakeholders is critical. Mark Bodo from the NE Tennessee Sports Assoc. focused on how important the sideline culture is to the game, especially at the youth level. Only by understanding the game, can a parent really know when to advocate for their player. Small investments of learning by parents, combined with shifts in how coaches and officials communicate with fans can dramatically impact a local lacrosse community.
Don't be surprised when you see us exploring these themes further. This summary is a mere amuse bouche from the buffet of learning that was LaxCon 2017.
Spring lacrosse starts in 36 days. Not that we're counting...
A word from Yo Momma? Get to the wall - you know it's good for you.