Author’s Note: Here’s an update on what has happened since the MLL made the decision to suspend operations for the Launch, the Ohio machine and the Charlotte Hounds. We all hope a potential owner will step up and bring MLL back to the area. I have not heard any indications at this point that South Florida is anywhere on the radar for the new PLL. If this turns out to be it for the long run, there’s PLENTY of people I need to acknowledge and thank for their efforts over the years. I will probably miss a few and apologize for that in advance.
Brian Clinton always had my back on doing what I needed to do. Heather Huntemann was just as helpful over the years and always fun to talk to. The rest of the front office staff never hesitated to help FLN do their jobs. I’ll miss talking to Aaron, he was a great resource for the team and the fans, particularly the young ones! Both coaching staffs were great to be around. Stan Ross, George Harris and Matt Sofarelli still run programs down here and I cherish my access to them. The recent team of Tom Mariano, Brian Duncan and Chris Burdick were also great to cover. Chris and Brian are still involved with Florida college programs and I’m sure Tom and I will keep in touch. With all 6 of them, the conversations at Rocco’s after games were a blast. Tom even VOLUNTEERED to go to a clinic with me on a Sunday after a home game and not only chipped right in but hung around for the Bru’s Room after-session!
Although the FAU facility was kind of large for hosting, it was also a high end operation. Press & Broadcast facilities were top notch, the Club Level was very comfortable pre-game and the people I dealt with running the facilities were all friendly and smiling. A special shout out to Chris Fantaccione, the Swiss Army Knife of the franchise and of FAU’s lacrosse world. Speaking of the broadcasts, plenty of good times with the broadcast crews over the years . . . got to know Dave Lamont well and Tom the last two years was friendly to me. The rotating color commentators . . .Chazz, Doug Shanahan and the rest . . . our relationships will continue. And I’ll run across Dave Ryan, Evan Washburn, etc., at other events too.
The players over the years were great to get to know and talk to. In the early years it was Casey and so many others and through the years Tucker, PT, Duncan, Mark McNeil, Liam Byrnes and so many others. Chris Mattes wrote a few columns for us. Dylan Molloy’s dad was a Hobart grad and I always had fun with tweeking the Syracuse grads about upstate stuff. Players and coaches on other teams . . . Tony and B.J. with Denver, Sean Quirk is a great guy, Jimmy Stagnitta, Liam Banks, Dave Cottle and all the rest that always had time to chat. Hobart alums that passed through . . . Mike Lazore and Cooper Stefaniak, Frank Brown, the Dallas coaching staff, and the rest. Florida-bred MLL players . . . Jesse and Jake and Sergio, all had time to talk.
And finally, the fan base . . . so many of you also FLN fans on the high school programs. Always loving to talk the best sport on Planet Earth. All the kids . . . watching them bring their sticks and hunting autographs after the game. And all of them coming away with memories that will never leave them.
The Florida Launch . . . even if this is it they will be remembered for a long time to come!
(The bolded players link to feature stories on the MLL website to discuss their impact for their new teams)
These former Launch players were allocated:
Ben Williams, Midfield/FO
Martin Bowes, Midfield
Shane Doss, Goalie
Charlie Ford, Defense
P.T. Ricci, LSM
Nick Mariano, Midfield
Greg Weyl, Defense
Tim Barber, Midfield
Scott Bieda, Attack
Austin Kaut, Goalie
Players who were on a PSAR for Charlotte, Florida or Ohio, but were not selected today, will move into the MLL player pool. They will be available to be picked up by a team before the first of two training camps. MLL will not enforce a 40-man capped PSAR for the first of the two training camps. After the first training camp, all PSARs will return to a maximum 40-man roster for their second training camp. MLL training camps will occur the weekends of May 10-12, May 17-18 and May 24-26.
Major League Lacrosse announced that the league would be contracting from nine teams to six for the coming 2019 season. Regrettably, the Florida Launch was one of the teams selected along with the Ohio Machine and the Charlotte Hounds.
With that being said, the Launch will not compete in the 2019 season, and all our business partners and season ticket members will be contacted to receive a full refund.
This announcement comes as a terrible surprise to all of us at the Florida Launch. We share in the incredible disappointment in this upsetting news with all those that have supported us over the years. As shocking as this news is, it should not be seen as a reflection of the tremendous success the game of lacrosse has had in Florida in recent years.
The Florida Launch has woven itself into the fabric of the Florida lacrosse community over the last five years. In 2018 the Launch were part of countless events in the community spanning hundreds of hours of community engagement. Our fundraising efforts for local nonprofits in Florida reached over two dozen cities.
In five seasons, we were able to create a playoff-contender that Florida would be proud of and we were working around the clock to make our 6th season our best year ever, on the field, in the stands, and in the community.
We cannot thank our fans enough for their incredible support during this period. Our dedicated and growing fan base was something we took pride in and the news from this morning hurts us even more because we know we won’t be able to see our loving fanbase cheer on the Launch this upcoming season, a season in which we were projected to have exponential growth not only on the field but in the stands.
However, despite all of this, it is clear that lacrosse has a bright future in the great state of Florida. Youth leagues and participation are growing at a record pace. Both boys and girls high school programs are being added every year.
We are deeply saddened by this turn of events but we continue to believe in the sport of lacrosse and the strong future it has here in Florida.
The Florida Launch family – the incredible world-class players, the dedicated coaches, the fantastic front office staff, gameday staff, the interns, the volunteers, the sponsors, and all of our great fans, have all made this a worthy journey and we all express our sincere thanks to each and every one of you.
Florida Launch Lacrosse
3.. 2.. 1.. Launch Forever