Lacrosse Embraces and Promotes High Academic Achievement

Lacrosse Embraces High Academic AchievementOne of the greatest aspects of the sport of lacrosse is the general embracing of superior academics as being just as important as superior play on the field.  Even Division I top 25 programs will reject superior blue chip lacrosse players before rather than admit a great athlete who is an academic slacker.

This is the reason why academic powerhouse programs like Harvard, Cornell, Princeton, Brown and Johns Hopkins are also college lacrosse powerhouses.  It is also the reason why in general the quality of Division II lacrosse lags behind that of Division III Lacrosse.  With Division III lacrosse programs having a greater wealth of high academic achievement colleges in comparison to Division II, they tend to attract the better players.

Let us take out of the equation that professional lacrosse does not pay all that well, and simply take a look at the percentage of college athletes that go on to play at the professional level.    According to NCAA.org statistics averaging 5 sports (basketball, baseball, football, lacrosse, hockey), only 3.4% of NCAA college athletes will go on to play at the professional level.  That static is actually artificially inflated by baseball with 10.9% of college players going on to play professional ball, the majority of which bounce around A, AA, and AAA Minor League baseball for a while but ultimately fall short of making the Major Leagues.  Take baseball out of the average calculation, then the probability of a college athlete playing professionally drops to 1.96%.

The bottom line is that for the vast majority of college athletes, their athletic career will be finished after their NCAA eligibility expires and they are faced with the rest of their life having to rely on careers that their academic achievements prepared them for.   When I hear of some of the abysmal graduation rates of college football players, a sport where only2% of players go on to play professionally, I am saddened the fact that such little emphasis is placed on having academics play a more prominent role in the sport’s culture.  My intent is not to just pick on football, as this is prevalent in other sports as well.

I remember we I was a kid and despite lacrosse being very popular in my town, our parents (our Dads especially) were so resistant to those of us that left baseball for lacrosse as our chosen spring sport.  Part of it was that lacrosse was foreign to them, but part of it was that they had some inner pipe dream that their children may go on to play sports professionally.   Consequently, the answer I heard all too frequently from our Dads was “Why lacrosse?  There’s no money in that?” (There was no Major League Lacrosse until 2002)  Such sentiments imply that the primary reason to play youth sports is to one day play professionally, which completely is not only unrealistic, but completely misses the point of youth sports participation.

I do believe that professional lacrosse in the not so far off future will be a lucrative career.   I also hope that will be the case, as dedicated full time professional lacrosse players would raise awareness of the sport and bring it ever closer to the main stream.  However, I also hope when that does happen, that lacrosse maintain its dedication and commitment to academics first and foremost.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of subjects 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 though his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

What Ever Happened To The Multi-Sport Youth Athlete?

Bo Jackson was a king among multi-sport athletesWhen I was growing up, my friends and I looked forward to seasons.  Fall was for football or soccer; winter was for basketball, wrestling or winter track; spring was for lacrosse, baseball or spring track.  It was great because as a young athlete started to feel for repetitive burn out as one particular season wore on, he could look forward to the next season of a different sport that was a completely different experience.

In recent years, there has been increasing pressure to specialize in one sport as the only path to playing a sport beyond high school.  I call this the Tiger Woods approach to youth athletics, which clearly serve him well for most of his career until he got plagued with a rash of injuries for the past several years.  With overuse injury being one of the negative side effects of single sports specialization, I wonder if Tiger’s body would not have broken down at a relatively young age had he supplemented his young golf experience cross training in other sports pursuits.  There is also the reality that an athlete with the magnitude of talent like Tiger Woods is extremely rare, and in the vast majority of cases, single sport specialization serves little more than to deny a child a varied experience and a big level of disappointment when specialization does not pay off.

Single sport specialization young keeps a child living in the single box of one experience in sport.  It not only limits the child’s options as to what he personally may excel at, but it also predisposes a child to burn out.  Case in point, by the time my college roommate made it to college where he needed basketball to gain acceptance (he was a bit of an underachiever in high school), he really could not care less if he played another minute on the court because that was all he had done all of his life.  When he got stricken with appendicitis mid-season, upon returning following his recovery from surgery, he realized that he was going to have to work to regain his spot.  Rather than work through this setback, he just quit.  When I asked him how he could just walk away so easily, he simply told me that basketball had begun to feel more like a job than a sport to him.

In Florida where I live, the weather facilitates the ability to play any sport year round.  This is both a blessing and a curse because on one hand it is great to be able to be outside year round, while on the other hand, the pressure to specialize year round is worse than it is in most places.  Still, with the expansion of indoor athletic facilities, year round participation in one sport is a nationwide phenomenon that seems poised to get worse.

Single sport specialization may also limit opportunities in other sports that a child may have more natural ability in.  A good friend of mine, Brian Megill, shared with me that he first got noticed by Syracuse via football, which then got him on their radar for lacrosse.  Brian went on to have a brilliant lacrosse career at Syracuse and star in both indoor and outdoor professional lacrosse leagues, as well as Team USA.

Finally, most trainers and sports medicine specialists opine that multi-sport is what is best for developing athletes mentally and physically.  Says celebrity trainer (and former high school football, player, wrestler, and lacrosse player) Steve Jordan:

The multi-sport athlete has several advantages both mentally and physically that are important. First and foremost it prevents mental burn out and overtraining physically which are two very common outcomes when you focus on one sport. The person participating in that one sport start to feel resentment or develops a lackluster attitude towards practicing, games and their teammates. And since the athletes often times focuses on one position the repetitive pattern overload can diminish gains that one would expect from that amount of time invested. Overtraining can show up in a variety of ways including acute injuries like hamstring pulls, torn ACL’s, sprain ankles, elbow and shoulder issues as well as an overall sense of feeling tired or lethargic. 

Some other advantages worth noting of the multi-sport athlete are:

Transfer of sports skills. Do be a great athlete you have to coordinate the ability to accelerate, decelerate and stabilize the body in motion. When you have the ability to create different sensory inputs that come from playing different sports you are hard wiring the nervous system to be more flexible and adaptable for pure athleticism.

There clearly is no question that multi-sport is what is best for young athletes.  The question remains, is it possible that we will ever see a time again when kids play 2-3 sports?

Dr. Roger Welton was a 4 year starter for Montclair State University and was selected as a First Team All Knickerbocker Conference Midfielder in 1995, 1996. He is the founder of the Viera-Suntree Lacrosse Club and Space Coast Elite Lacrosse Club in Brevard County, Florida.

Lacrosse Goalie Is The Most Difficult And Frightening Position In All Of Sports!

Lacrosse Goalie Is The Most Difficult Position In All Of Sports!You stand in front of a gaping 6 foot by  6 foot cage, defending against a shot that ranges from 20 feet to point blank, with a 5 ½ ounce hard rubber ball.  Protection is minimal, consisting of a helmet, throat guard, a chest protector that is thinner than a catcher’s mitt, a cup, and an oversized lacrosse stick.  Welcome to the world of the lacrosse goalie!

Let’s take out of the equation the shear pain induced when a high velocity shot hits muscle, bone and skin for a moment and focus on the reaction time necessary to save a shot.  According to the reaction time calculator at LaxPower.com, a 20 foot shot travelling at 85 miles per hour (a shot speed that many 12 year olds reach) requires a reaction time of 0.16 seconds.  Cut that shot distance in half to 10 feet and the reaction time necessary to save it drops to 0.08 seconds!

In a sport where it is not uncommon for shots to exceed 100 miles per hour, the courage and athletic ability necessary to be a good goalie is off the charts.  Honestly, I cannot imagine why anyone would ever choose to be a lacrosse goalie, but I have the utmost respect and admiration to the select few who choose to specialize in this crazy position.

In my lacrosse travels playing and coaching at all levels, I have found that all goalies have a couple traits in common.  First, they are great athletes.  Successful goalies are usually one of the best athletes on the lacrosse field and commonly excel at other sports outside of lacrosse.  Case in point, my childhood buddy and trusted goalie through the duration of my middle school and high school playing career, Jake Doran, was one of the best goalies in the state of New Jersey our senior year of high school.  He went on to be an All American wide receiver for Fairleigh Dickenson University Football.

Second, they are adrenaline junkies that have no regard for their own personal safety.  A few years ago while coaching a U11 boys division, I lost my star goalie to a broken wrist…not from lacrosse, but because he was testing a zip line he constructed from his two story bedroom window to his backyard fence.  One of my current high school tournament team goalies gets excited when he receives new bruises after particularly hard impacts, at the prospect of how large and hideous they are going to get as they mature.

So often, it is the prolific scorers, face-off specialists, and fancy stick artists that get most of the attention in lacrosse, and heck they deserve it.  But for this post, I give a shout out to the guys and girls that I admire most on the lacrosse field: the goalies!  To all of the courageous, fearless, and athletic goalies of all ages male and female, this one’s for you!

Dr. Roger Welton was a 4 year starter for Montclair State University and was selected as a First Team All Knickerbocker Conference Midfielder in 1995, 1996. He is the founder of the Viera-Suntree Lacrosse Club and Space Coast Elite Lacrosse Club in Brevard County, Florida.

There Is No Such Thing As 6 On 6 Lacrosse

Settled Half Field Lacrosse Is Not 6 on 6 LacrosseWe have traditionally called half field settled offense versus settled defense 6 on 6 lacrosse, but I will challenge you to re-think that 6 on 6 lacrosse actually does not exist.  In order to score in settled offense versus settled defense, someone has to get beat on the defensive side.

This may occur when a defenseman trails a cutter that leaves him open for an easy catch and shoot off a feed.  This may occur when a defenseman gets beat off a dodge and the slide comes to late, or, the slide is timely but the the ball is dumped down to the offensive player where the slide came from because a second slide was too slow.

In all of these scenarios, at least one defender has been taken out of the equation, creating for a brief moment 6 on 5 or 6 on 4 opportunities for the offense to score off their advantage.  Thus, this really expands our thought process as to our traditional mindset that number advantages only occur in transition and with penalties.

From a coaching perspective, it already made sense to adopt the transition focused training models of programs like Brown and Tufts when we considered that more than 60% of goals in lacrosse are scored in unsettled transition.  It makes even more sense to focus on unsettled transition considering now that goals scored in settled half field lacrosse occur in transition scenarios that briefly create a numbers advantage.

Having transition focused practices does not risk priming a team to live and die by the run and gun, but instead trains the offense to take advantage of holes in the defense created by transition or athletically during settled half field play.  Likewise, it trains the defense to plug holes, fill, and react when they find themselves at a disadvantage.

Dr. Roger Welton was a 4 year starter for Montclair State University and was selected as a First Team All Knickerbocker Conference Midfielder in 1995, 1996. He is the founder of the Viera-Suntree Lacrosse Club and Space Coast Elite Lacrosse Club in Brevard County, Florida.

With The New Face-Off Rules Is Pinch and Pop Still An Effective Lacrosse Face-Off Technique?

Brendan Fowler Pinch and Pop Lacrosse Face-off SpecialistPictured here is Duke FOGO (Face-Off, Get Off) legend Brendan Fowler, one of the great all time masters of the pinch and pop face-off technique and credited with being one of the biggest reasons for their 2013 National Championship run.  The video below is a good demonstration of the technique that when executed successfully, leaves the ball on the back side of the head and pocket.

The face-off man then will flip the ball to the correct side of the head mid-stride to pass the ball; some have even learned to throw the ball accurately from the back side of the head.

This year’s face-off rule change targeted the pinch and pop specifically, when it was deemed that once the ball is in the back side of the head, the face-off man may not run with the ball and may only take one step with it before flipping it to the correct side of the head.  This majorly curtails the potency of  what has become the signature move of many lacrosse face-off specialists.  So the question is, is pinch and pop still an effective move with the new rule change?

While the rules definitely take some of the sheer dominance away from players like Brendan Fowler that have perfected the skill, it still has a place in the face-off arsenal.  For one, the pinch and pop can be used not to immediately possess the ball, but to plunge the ball in the direction of the momentum of the face-off man who won the clamp.  In fact, when you watch Brendan Fowler highlights, he won many face-offs this way even when the rules allowed him to run with the ball in the back of his head.  This was simply because the opposing player restricted enough of Brendan’s head to prevent him from keeping a firm nesting of the ball in the back of his head.

I have never had the pleasure of coaching a pinch and pop specialist, but I sure have coached against many.  I saw first hand at the middle school and high school level, a few gifted players who have successfully adapted to the one step rule and are able to seamlessly win the pinch and pop, take one single step, and flip the ball into the correct side of the pocket in one single stride.  I saw others struggle with this even after winning the pinch and pop only to lose the ball being called for taking more than one step or having it taken away as their forward momentum is slowed because of the one step restriction.

While the rule change definitely will temporarily suppress the dominance of pinch and pop experts, I believe that these athletes over time will perfect the art of pinch and pop within the new face-off rules.

I have seen the rules of face-off change constantly through the years in an effort to make it more difficult, only to see top athletes adjust and adapt to regain their dominance.  This new rule change will ultimately be a mere bump in the road for great pinch and pop face-off specialists.

Dr. Roger Welton was a 4 year starter for Montclair State University and was selected as a First Team All Knickerbocker Conference Midfielder in 1995, 1996. He is the founder of the Viera-Suntree Lacrosse Club and Space Coast Elite Lacrosse Club in Brevard County, Florida.

 

The Full Weekend Lacrosse Tournament – A Great Opportunity For Lacrosse Players!

Full Weekend Lacrosse Tournaments Are Great For The Sport!With the middle school and high school teams that I coach having just completed their fall tournament schedules, I reflect on the incredible opportunity that my young players have at their disposal that did not exist in my playing days: summer and fall full weekend lacrosse tournaments.

Growing up and playing lacrosse in New Jersey in the 80’s and 90’s, we basically had our spring season and a the potential for a small extension of that season to play top level lacrosse in the Garden State Games.  We eventually had a short informal winter box lacrosse season, but overall the opportunities to play outside of our main season were quite limited in comparison to today.

In New Jersey and other states, that opportunity has greatly expanded with the growth full weekend summer and fall tournaments.  Not only are full weekend tournaments very fun, with teams from all over one’s home state and even out of state teams converging on large venues to compete at the highest level, they provide invaluable playing experience.  Lacrosse tournaments are one big reason why the level of lacrosse being played in my new home state of Florida has increased exponentially in the past 5 years.

If you consider that an average tournament team plays three tournaments, each tournament of which will include 4-6 games being played in one weekend, in three weekends, a player will have played more games than he or she would in an entire spring season.  When you combine that volume of games with the variety of competition and fast paced games (20 to 21 minutes running halves), it is easy to see the value of competing in state wide tournaments.

The comradery that lacrosse tournaments create is also very special.  With some tournaments attracting 120 teams or more, the hosting city or town is taken over by lacrosse families.  Whether in hotels, at restaurants, or shopping, you find yourself constantly surrounded by lacrosse parents, players, and coaches.  In a sport that still has not yet reached main stream status, especially in newer lacrosse markets like Florida, it is uplifting to be in a venue where so many people that love the sport are congregated.

To be sure, there are many aspects of the lacrosse tournament experience that make it invaluable and unique for lacrosse players and coaches.  I would advise any family with the opportunity to play weekend tournament ball to take full advantage of an opportunity that only relatively recently became available to lacrosse players.

Dr. Roger Welton was a 4 year starter for Montclair State University and was selected as a First Team All Knickerbocker Conference Midfielder in 1995, 1996. He is the founder of the Viera-Suntree Lacrosse Club and Space Coast Elite Lacrosse Club in Brevard County, Florida.

Profit Motivated Coaches And Organizations Are Bad For Youth And High School Lacrosse

The Scourge Of For Profit Youth Lacrosse Teams Is Bad For The GameIn my little corner of the world of the Florida Space Coast in an area very steeped in the traditional school sports, the introduction of lacrosse has been an uphill climb.  With the first elements of lacrosse having been seeded in 2008, while the game continues to grow, it is still very much in the emerging sport category.  Although our lacrosse growth is a very positive development, it was only a matter of time before we would draw the attention of a growing problem in our sport: the for profit organizations and coaches that aim to pick away at established not for profit clubs and leagues with the promise of the best coaching in the world and a path to a Division I scholarship at a marquis college lacrosse program.

Having played along side incredible talent from my home state of New Jersey, having come from a high school program that has yielded a lot of Division I talent and to date has seen 6 players have success in the professional Major League Lacrosse, I have a unique perspective and insight into the world of Division I lacrosse.  The truth is, Division I scholarships are very rare.  Even top talent coming out of lacrosse hot beds like New Jersey, New York and Maryland often feel very fortunate to earn a no scholarship roster spot or receive partial scholarships at best.

Thus, while players should all strive to be the best lacrosse athletes they can possibly be, a coach who understands sports and is being honest will tell you that as much great coaching as a player gets, it is ultimately up to the player to perform.  Many factors that cannot be taught, such as innate speed, physical size, strength, and demeanor, go into the entire player package.  Does good coaching help facilitate that?  Of course it does, but it will only take a player so far.

What’s more, just because a coach may charge parents a fortune to play for his team does not make him necessarily a better option.  Case in point, in the not for profit youth lacrosse club I preside over, we have 6 boys coaches with college playing experience (3 from Division I programs) and three girls coaches with Division I and Division II playing experience.  Double that number are US Lacrosse Level II and III Certified.  Just because we choose to volunteer our time for the kids and love of the game does not diminish what we bring to them in their lacrosse development.

I will tell you clearly what we are NOT doing, filling families with delusions of grandeur that their only path to a Division I scholarship is through us.  That kind of propaganda as as unethical as it is untrue.  Unfortunately, there are parents out there that drink the Kool-Aid and break out their check books so that little Johnny will be assured that roster spot at Johns Hopkins one day.

In the end, it is generally not the parents of the best players who fall for the draw of the for profit rhetoric, but more commonly it is the parents of the average or slightly above average player.  As parents, we naturally have pride in our children and want them to succeed.  However, this pride sometimes leads parents having an unrealistic outlook of their child’s innate talent.  If he or she is not getting the playing time that the parent expects or their performance leaves them far short of being stars of the team, it cannot be that their child’s talent has limits, it must be because of the coaching.

For profit entities in the sport also cause animosity and discord in communities that are otherwise tight nit.  Because their livelihood depends on it, they often do not stop at puffing our their chests and touting their lacrosse resumes and credentials, but they belittle the selfless and tireless efforts of volunteers that have given their their precious time, hearts, and souls to the community, the sport, and the kids.  Sadly, their belittling takes root with some parents and we have occasionally seen once appreciative members of our club join the for profits in denigrating our efforts.

For longstanding volunteers, this can be at times hard to swallow and  simply shrug off.  At times, I will be honest, it feels like a punch in the gut.  But just like in my playing days, when I was knocked down and it made me more motivated to work harder to make certain that next time I was in that same position, the tables would be turned; my fellow volunteers and I are ready to push back against the influence of for profit groups in our lacrosse community.

Many other lacrosse friends I have all over the country share my motivation curtail the influence of profit driven organizations in the sport of lacrosse in their respective corners of the world.  If/when the day comes that you are faced with the decision to jump on board with the bells and whistles of a for profit team or stay with the not for profit club that provided your child the opportunity to play lacrosse in the first place, always remember this quote by the great James Doolittle:

“There is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.”

That is as true in the sport of lacrosse as it is in anything else.

Dr. Roger Welton was a 4 year starter for Montclair State University and was selected as a First Team All Knickerbocker Conference Midfielder in 1995, 1996. He is the founder of the Viera-Suntree Lacrosse Club and Space Coast Elite Lacrosse Club in Brevard County, Florida.

New Girl’s/Women’s Lacrosse Helmets Remain Controversial

New Cascade LX Women's and Girls Lacrosse HelmetThere has been a lot of controversy surrounding the requirement of helmets in girls and women’s lacrosse.  Proponents for protective gear opine that girls must have head protection from injury caused by collision with other players, as well as stick and ball contact to the head.  Opponents to the head gear requirement feel that head gear would serve nothing more than to provide a false sense of security for players and actually have the net result of more head injuries.

Further inflaming opponents to head gear is that there is no minimum standard for female lacrosse head gear as there is for male lacrosse players that have had helmet mandates for several decades.  This lack of standardization leads to very significant disparities in the various products available for states that have a head gear requirement.  It is noteworthy that the governing body of the sport of lacrosse nationally, US Lacrosse, has been one of the most ardent critics of head gear mandates for girls and women’s lacrosse players.

Women's-Girls Game Breaker Lacrosse Helmet/Protective Head GearIn my home state of Florida, for example, a head gear requirement went into effect 2 seasons ago as mandated by the Florida High School Athletic Association, the governing body of high school athletics state wide.  While it is too early to tell what impact this has had on head injury statistics, the lack of any standard for head gear could not be more obvious.  Pictured here is the Game Breakers rugby style helmet worn by some programs.

However, once girls became aware that simply putting “something” on their head would suffice to satisfy the FHSAA head gear requirement, the majority have gone with this minimal head band type of protective gear made by Storelli.  Storelli Lacrosse Protective Head Band For Women and GirlsThese are but a couple of the variations available in the lacrosse market even at this time when Cascade has teamed up with US Lacrosse to provide a helmet that satisfies minimum head gear requirements (more on this below).  This lack of standardization has essentially made a joke of the head gear requirement, as, regardless of the choice of protective head gear, lacrosse officials have no guidelines as to whether a particular head gear item is acceptable or not.

I am all for efforts to make the sport of lacrosse safer, but to impose protective gear requirements with no standards for what that protective gear should provide makes no sense.  This most certainly not one of FHSAA’s finest moments, and that is an opinion shared by the vast majority of girls lacrosse coaches across the state.

At least finally there is a standard that US Lacrosse has signed onto with the help of helmet manufacturer Cascade.  They have produced the Cascade LX girls and women’s lacrosse helmet  (picture at the top of the page) in accordance with ASTM f3137, the first minimum lady lacrosse helmet standard the fulfills the ultimate goal of girl’s and women’s lacrosse helmets: to reduce the impact forces associate with stick and ball contact to the head.

Still, while US Lacrosse approved of this helmet as the standard, they still do not deem protective head gear in girls and women’s lacrosse with the jury still very much out on the ultimate impact helmets will have on head injuries in the female game.  US Lacrosse is simply saying that for those who buy in on the the concept of protective head gear for girls and women, this is the standard.

On the other hand, state regulating bodies such as Florida’s FHSAA will continue to have their own mandates that may disagree with US Lacrosse.  Clearly, there is a precedence for state regulating bodies to detour from US Lacrosse stances and recommendations.  It is not clear where the requirement goes from here.

With US Lacrosse having a strong track record of best practices and safety, with strong research departments that further support their credibility, my opinion stands with theirs; that is, that head gear should be optional with the science still strongly lacking in support of increased safety for girls playing with protective head gear.  In fact, there is credible evidence to the contrary, that head gear may create a false sens of security that encourages more contact an subsequent risk for serious injury.

As such, with the youth lacrosse club I preside over, not under the FHSAA mandate for require protective gear, the requirement use of head gear remains optional.

Dr. Roger Welton was a 4 year starter for Montclair State University and was selected as a First Team All Knickerbocker Conference Midfielder in 1995, 1996. He is the founder of the Viera-Suntree Lacrosse Club and Space Coast Elite Lacrosse Club in Brevard County, Florida.

 

So Many Lacrosse Heads To Choose From, How Do I Decide?

How To Choose The Right Lacrosse Head From So ManyIf you are an advanced player with years of experience, this article is not likely for you, as by now your probably have a fairly good sense of what lacrosse heads fit your position (s) and style.  You probably even have a certain lacrosse gear manufacturer or small list of companies you have the most preference for.  For everyone else, choosing the right lacrosse head can be a daunting process, especially when faced with the myriad of choices you may come across in large retail store pictured above.

I am here to break it down into basics for you to give you some working idea of what you may be looking for.

Defense

Defensive heads generally are stiff to deliver a hard check, one potentially felt through the pads, as well as a wide scoop for gobbling up ground balls.  The Brine Triumph, Maverik Tank, and Warrior Regulator fits these criteria very well.  For long stick middies with an offensive flare may desire a high performance head that can also be used for accurate feeding and shooting like the Warrior Revo.

Offense

Attack and middies that do not face off benefit from heads that are pinched with sidewall control with ample holes for stringing pocket customization and channel control.  The Brine RP3, Maverik Tactik, Warrior Evo, or STX Stallion.

Face-off middies benefit from semi-stiff heads that will  toe the line between having enough bend to accommodate face-off tactics but stiff enough to maintain its shape after countless face-offs.  Heads that fit these criteria include the Warrior NOZ, Warrior Blade, Brine Dictator, and the Brine Clutch.

Goalie heads I think speak for themselves.

I hope this helps players work through the menagerie of lacrosse head choices.  This just scratches the surface of course, but I stuck with my own preferences based on my experiences as a player and coach.

Dr. Roger Welton was a 4 year starter for Montclair State University and was selected as a First Team All Knickerbocker Conference Midfielder in 1995, 1996. He is the founder of the Viera-Suntree Lacrosse Club and Space Coast Elite Lacrosse Club in Brevard County, Florida.

We Must Stand With The Native American Sioux Tribe In Protest Of The Dakota Access Pipeline

Stand With The Sioux Against The Dakota Access Pipeline!On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for so much in my life that has enjoyed so much joy and so many blessings in my 42 years.  When I blog whether on my veterinary blogs or here, I usually aim to stay with positive messages.  However, every now and then, I feel a duty to expose wrong doing in the world and advocate for a reversal of those wrongs.

It is rather ironic that Americans, the majority of which are of European decent, so enjoy the celebration of Thanksgiving, a holiday that memorializes Native Americans having come to the aid of European settlers and feed them, clothe them, and help them survive the wilderness that North America of that time was.

European settlers and their descendants repaid that kindness by forcing Native Americans out of their lands, trampling on their rights, and relegating them to reservations with sub-par education and abysmal rampant poverty.  Only in recent years have we really begun to embrace the beauty of Native American culture, spirituality, art, and of course the great sport of lacrosse that is the main topic of this blog.

What is occurring in North Dakota is yet another sad chapter in Native American relations within the U.S..  The peaceful protests of the Dakota Sioux Tribe against a pipeline that not only will run through and desecrate their sacred tribal lands, but also mar the landscape and threaten to poison their environment facing violence from the security personnel of Energy Transfer Partner and local North Dakota law enforcement is deplorable.  So many atrocities already have been committed against Native Americans in the name of progress.  Please join me in insuring that the Dakota Access Pipeline will not be yet another, perpetrated in a day and age that we know better!

I bid the Sioux Tribe who have continued to have the courage to protest in the face of brutality, unjust arrests, and even tear gas; the strength to persevere and protect your lands.  I pray that Energy Transfer Partners will value respect for Native American heritage and lands over the mighty dollar.  I pray that our government takes the side of Native Americans once and for all and protect their rights.

On this Thanksgiving, let us rally behind and protect Native Americans in defense against the Dakota Access Pipeline as selflessly as they came to the aid of the European Pilgrims all of those years ago.

Dr. Roger Welton was a 4 year starter for Montclair State University and was selected as a First Team All Knickerbocker Conference Midfielder in 1995, 1996. He is the founder of the Viera-Suntree Lacrosse Club and Space Coast Elite Lacrosse Club in Brevard County, Florida.