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Update: It’s LaxCon Time! The Recap!

  Note:  Most of the pictures, if not all, were taken by John Strohsacker for US Lacrosse.  John is a heck of a photographer and here’s his web site:   FLN has made their annual pilgrimage to Baltimore for the US Lacrosse Convention and this is where you can come for updates! I’m checked in to the Hampton down the block from the Convention Center and when time permits I’ll be updating with the going-ons!     Update Friday 2:50pm Blue skies and nearly 50 degrees . . . so much better than two years ago as the memory of 30 inches of snow and a 36-hour flight delay going home start to recede into my memory.  The plane landed early and I was in the hotel already by 11:00am. Ran over to the Center to pick up my credentials and went down to the vendor area.  First up was the Lacrosse Radio Network where I had a chance to talk to their President Dan Williams about swapping some ideas for working together. Also found fellow Statesman Jim Calder and we talked about Dave Huntley’s passing, as Jim was a friend and Canadian teammate of Dave’s on the victorious 1978 World title team.  Jim is working on a new book about the history of the World Championships and it will likely be as good a read for true lax fans as his first two books on the history of the Men’s and Women’s games! Also found Steve Stenerson, who runs US Lacrosse as Executive Director and we talked a lot about something close to Florida fans . . . moving around the US National Team events to other locations around the state and he is fully on board with that idea.  Perhaps Oxbridge, Boca High or STA might like a US National Team scrimmage in the coming future?  And then we followed it up with talking about the efforts towards diversity and how the efforts are coming along. Many more vendors this year but no Lax Sports Network.  No idea why not!  Spoke to Dan Aburn of Inside Lacrosse for awhile.  Dan was part of the IL Preps podcasts when I appeared on it.  Fun to talk about the season upcoming.  Kyle Devitte showed up and we’ll catch up tomorrow when he has some more time.   Ran into Jon Moriarty afterwards and he’s representing a company that provides the safety nets behind the goals.  Always enjoy catching up with Jon. The breakout sessions begin at 3:30 and I think that first bloc of time will be used to learn more about refereeing. That’s an easy one but the 4:45pm bloc is really tough . . . Tom Mariano at one room, Matt Kerwick at another, Garrett Hanrahan of the Gators MCLA team and Cindy Timchal, the Navy head coach all speaking simultaneously! I’ll update everyone later tonight on that Hobson’s choice!   Friday Afternoon/Night Friday clicked along well as I was able to get to both the Hanrahan and Mariano presentations but missed out on catching up with Kerwick.  Also, Tucker Durkin was holding a session on the presentation field downstairs.  We’ll catch up with Coach Mariano later this week to talk about the Supplemental Draft. For those who are not familiar with how the event runs: Friday the sessions start at 3:30pm and the vendors downstairs are pretty much set to go by noon, even though the official schedule doesn’t start that early.  Also downstairs are a couple of exhibition areas where players and coaches can run clinic type sessions on turf, and many of those sessions are really targeted at the player so for all the families out there who are considering a pilgrimage please understand that for your budding player, male or female (or whatever we include as genders these days . . .), the trip is worth it for that type of instruction alone!  Upstairs on the 3rd floor and above that in the Ballrooms, are the main locations for the scheduled breakout sessions.  The sessions are designed for coaches and officials for the most part.  There are courses for the coaching certifications as a side path.     Many of the early breakout sessions focused on developing a winning culture, which was a repeat from last year.  Frankly, not to take anything away from it but please cut back some of that next year PLEASE.  A couple of courses is sufficient, 15+ is overkill.  The official’s sessions are well rounded and include interpretation work and how to handle the difficult situations that can crop up with coaches.  I learned a lot from those sessions and always make sure to attend a few of those.  While in those I ran into Tom and Mary Hopkins, Donna and Bob Rose and Charity Cox . . . almost a homecoming . . . also ran into Rudy Williams, the Cardinal Gibbons head coach. There were also a smattering of X’s and O’s sessions but not enough for my taste.  Immokalee’s Scott Rickard and staff were granted US Lacrosse scholarships for the weekend and they were attending everything they could.  We caught up for lunch on Saturday and swapped stories about what was being learned.  Immokalee opponents beware! The last sessions on Friday were parallel Maryland Terrapins . . . John Tillman and Cathy Reese.  Readers will be surprised to learn I picked Cathy’s session over John’s, but don’t be.  Cathy was a terrific speaker, energetic, informative and self-deprecating . . . a nice combo . . . Cathy was also a member of the Rose’s coaching tree when they were in Maryland and that’s a cap in the feather to them, to produce a national championship coach at the D1 level!     As the night wore on the early flight (coupled with the night before nightmare of being stuck in a car dealer until 11:00pm the night before . . . don’t ask) started to kick in but I was going to be treated to dinner by family members driving up from the DC area to take me to a true institution in the suburb . . . or what passes for the suburbs I guess . . . Koco’s Pub!  What a great ‘hole in the wall’ place!  The single best Crab Cake I have ever had and I’ve spent some decent time in the state of Maryland.  Had to be about 10 ounces and by the time I was done eating it I had no room for the side salad . . . at least I had my priorities straight!  By the time I was dropped off at the hotel I had to miss out on Moriarty’s invitation to the Hilton lobby gathering. Straight to bed . . .   Saturday A really filled day.  Although Kyle managed to miss me again for the second straight year . . . the first beer is on you now Kyle!  I missed the early keynote speaker Jon Gordon, the author and former Cornell lax player . . . although getting up for any Big Red grad is almost an allergic reaction to me.  And the Power of Positive Leadership is something I already practice with my staff . . . just kidding, I run my financial practice by myself but I do treat myself positively so that must count for something.  And after watching Chris Kane playing with the Elder Statesmen the previous weekend in Weston kind of shook me up on the whole Cornell-Hobart thing . . .     The next session block was with Jim Stagnitta and JC Glick on Coaching vs Leading and that was a very informative session as it was more about communication than culture in my opinion.  Of course Jim will probably whack me in the head for that one. Taking a break from the schedule I headed downstairs to the vendors and ran into Bo Lamon of Lacrossewear, with his wife, as they manned the booth in the vendor area.  Then on to one of my annual favorites, Vincent Ricasio, who runs The Art of Lax.  Had to make my annual purchase and picked up four 8×11 prints, 2 in color and 2 in B&W.  For $40 dollars I have some ready to go gifts!  I strongly encourage you to buy some of his work if you are looking for something different on the wall of your budding lacrosse superstar!     This year I kind of ignored most of the big vendors and their new designs . . . if you want some of that you can catch Kyle Devitte’s reviews at Inside Lacrosse HERE. With that plug, the SECOND beer is also on you Kyle . . . Many of you know that I carry around a couple of prints of paintings by the artist Tom Johnson (, who paints original lacrosse themes.  I have prints of his Tewaaraton Trophy painting and one of Natives riding horses to the game.  It’s now my mission to try to get all the Tewaaraton winners to sign the print and I was able to add my first Women’s winner as Katie Schwartzman affixed her signature.  Still a number to go but I have plenty of time! I then tracked down Chris Goldberg, who is our counterpart in the Philadelphia area, as he runs  Chris has actually been doing this longer than FLN has and I suggest true lacrosse fans check the site out to see how another area covers this great sport!  We swapped some ideas and I am going to ask him about posting his Twitter feed on our page.  He emphasized to me the importance of Instagram and we are looking to add that soon. Walking back towards the entrance I spotted Brian Clinton of the Launch and sure enough, some players were just behind.  Dylan Molloy, John Yozzo-Scaperrotta (hey John, how about shortening your name a little . . . Al Yozzo-Scaperrotta rolls off the tongue better . . .) were followed by Connor Buczek and of course Tucker was still hanging around.  A little before I also came upon former Launch Jovan Miller and said a quick hi.   Then it was time for lunch with Coach Rickard and the Immokalee assistants and that was a great conversation. On the way back into the Convention Center I ran into Chazz Woodson and Ty Xanders of Recruiting Rundown having a conversation and of course had to crash that one . . . as most of you know Chazz has moved up to the Varsity Head Coach at Ransom Everglades for this season and has retired from MLL.  Interestingly, this was not the last time I would run across him this weekend.  Ty and I finally had a chance to spend some time as we’ve been trying to talk for awhile.  Ty basically has become kind of the Mel Kiper/Todd McShay of the lacrosse world, albeit for high school kids moving on to the college level, as opposed to the NFL Draft.  He’s a big fan of FLN and we will discuss working together more in the future.  No lacrosse fan down here should go more than a week without checking in with Ty!     Wow, Saturday was turning into a home run!  Unfortunately I was not able to make some sessions I really wanted to attend.  Walt Munze, who appeared on Saturday, held his NFHS 2018 Rules Interpretation session and I’ll bring that video to you separately.  Walt was also kind to supply me with materials on refereeing and I will make that available to our readers over time. PARENTS, be forewarned, I am not backing off calling out bad behavior ONE BIT this season.  This is a tough job and you WILL learn to respect the uniform! I also missed the session that Paul and Mindy McCord of Jacksonville ran on speed in the modern Women’s game . . . as well as the Coaches and Officials Panel on that relationship.     It’s too bad that so many possibilities exist but if US Lacrosse cooperates I hope to put many of the videos available on the web site! As the day was coming to an end I spent some time listening to the Lacrosse Radio Network panel discussion outside the Vendor area and was pleasantly surprised to be given a shout out by Dave Matthews.  Thanks Dave! Well, again it was back to the hotel room and an early night. But a day I won’t likely forget for a long time. The only complaint I have . . . once again, no Media session . . . please US Lacrosse, add one next year!  There’s plenty of us fighting the good fight out here and it would be nice if we get our moment in the sun too!   Sunday Sunday is basically only a morning event as the sessions are finished by noon.  I checked in with Melissa Coyne’s NCAA Women’s Rules interpretations session and got through most of it before deciding I’d try to call it a day and see if I could catch an earlier flight (which didn’t occur because the change fee was more than the entire R/T ticket cost me).  Waiting for the light rail to the airport Walt Munze and I struck up a conversation that shows how small this lacrosse world sometimes is.     Walt spent a lot of time in upstate NY reffing games and we starting talking about the Hobart-Syracuse-Cornell troika of games in the 70’s and 80’s and it turns out that Walt reffed in a number of games I watched from the stands, in particular the great 1978 Cornell-Hobart game in Ithaca.  We reminisced about the ‘fish toss’ aspect of Hobart home games and had a great time. Then as we reached the airport he was off to a separate terminal to meet Moriarty for travel back to Vero, while I was on to the far end.  And as I went to get through the completely empty security line Chazz Woodson also popped up, so of course we started up our own conversation.  We had a lot of time to kill, so he went to get a massage in a chair while I got into a book.  Afterwards we popped into the Diner for a meal (thanks for picking up the check again Chazz!) and some great dialogue about Diversity in the sport.  I’ve been working on a write up on the issue for US Lacrosse and wanted to get his input on some of my thoughts.  Chazz is very knowledgeable about the history of the sport and a perfect person to be able to bounce ideas off of and his insights will make my submission much better.     We then headed over to the gate to wait, along with Charity, the Roses, and a few others for the trip home.  Chazz decided to catch a few Z’s (is that term still in use?) and I went off to buy some water and a little sweet tooth satisfier and on the way back again had that small world experience . . . At the gate next to us I noticed a father-son combo sitting together and the father had a Hobart Lacrosse sweatshirt on!  I walked up to him, pointed to my Hobart polo shirt with the H Lacrosse on it and asked who he was.  It was the Hancocks from Colorado, with senior Cam coming home from his official visit to Geneva!  When I gave them my name the father immediately said ‘ahh, LRoggy from LaxPower . . . ‘!  Cam’s older brother Brian has really played a big role with the Statesmen and let’s hope Cam follows suit! The lacrosse world is really a special place. The plane ride home was pretty quiet.  Thankfully. Feel better Donna . . . please