Tag Archives: lacrosse

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.

 

The Art Of The Lacrosse Face Off – Is It The Most Important Position In Lacrosse?

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Greg Gurenlian - Arguably Best Lacrosse Face Off Of All time

The face off in lacrosse has evolved through the ages in terms of line up, speed of whistle, and distance of the head from the ball as two face off players line up to with the back side of the heads on either sides of the ball in a crouched position as they await a whistle to battle for possession of the ball.  Possession of the ball is very important in lacrosse, as Division I college teams score 41% of the time per possession, making the face off position extremely important; often the deciding factor in whether a team wins or loses.

Many face off guys are very good all around lacrosse players but often as they advance in the levels of lacrosse, they increasingly stand out as winning face offs being their best contribution to the team.  Duke head coach John Danowski once famously said [referring to the face off specialist] that in the game of lacrosse, “the worst lacrosse player on the field often determines the outcome of games.”  Hence the now common position known as the FOGO, an acronym for Face Off, Get Off.

What I have learned about face off dominance in my years of playing and as a coach is that even the best lacrosse players just simply cannot be trained to be great face off guys.  It really is a skill you either have to do not, nonetheless, if a player shows aptitude in face off, it is important to nurture that player and get him the best training he can attain to hone the skill.

Case in point, my strongest all around player in the 10U boys travel division I coached this past season is a boy named Jackson.  There is nothing this boy cannot do, often  netting us 9 points per game while playing incredible defense, with seemingly endless stamina as a midfielder.  Yet, as great as an athlete as Jackson is (perhaps the best I have seen in a player at this age), Jackson was not very strong as face off.

We had the good fortune to bring in Dylan Lowdermilk, 2 time All-American face off at FSU (4 year all district face off middie from one of our local high school teams and now graduated, face off coach for FSU) to work with our travel teams.  I asked Dylan during practice to take groups of 4 of my team during practice, work through face off technique, and determine who my best face off players were.

Interestingly, a boy named Tommy, the youngest boy on the team who had just started playing lacrosse this year but showed enough raw athletic ability that I believed he could be developed into a travel team lacrosse player, proved to be our top face off prospect. By our final tournament of the summer season, Tommy became our go to face off player and enjoyed incredible success despite being young player so new to the game.

So what it is about certain players that just have that gift for face off?  Bringing up Tommy is a perfect segue into the sport science of face off, since ESPN did an analysis on arguably the best face off specialist in college, Team USA, and professional lacrosse history: Greg Gurenlian.  Tommy’s parents enrolled him in a face off academy clinic with none other than Greg Gurenlian this summer.

Here is what ESPN sport science analysis discovered about Gurenlian that made him so dominant at face off.:

  • Reaction Time – Average reaction to the whistle is 150 milliseconds.  Gurenlian’s is 130 milliseconds, translating into a 13% advantage in reaction time than the average human.
  • Clamp – During his clamp, Gurenlian rotates his head by swinging his bottom left hand on the shaft at 770 degrees per second, beating his average opponent to the clamp by an average of 0.02 seconds (the same amount of time it takes a humming bird to flaps its wings).
  • Defensive Exit – Once securing the ball, Gurenlian rips the stick out at 14. miles per hour, then sweeping the ball with his head at 3 G’s of acceleration…this adds up to Gurenlian escaping the face off space in less than 0.43 seconds!

All told, Gurenlian gains full possession of the ball in 0.23 seconds, 7% faster than an NHL hockey face off.

Greg Gurenlian’s stats courtesy of ESPN Sport’s Science tell us a few things about what makes a great face off specialist:

1.) Reaction time.

2.) Fast, strong hands.

3.) Strong upper and lower body acceleration.

To be sure, many of these skills can be honed and improved but it seems a lot of being a great face off lacrosse player is God given.  It is incumbent upon us coaches to be able to recognize these face off beasts early and point them in the direction of the best face off instruction we can offer them.

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.

The Benefit Of Adding “Free Play” Into Lacrosse Practices

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Adding free play to lacrosse practice plans is a great way to teach players to improvise and grow lacrosse IQ

As lacrosse coaches we want a high level of structure and consistency to our offensive and defensive schemes.  On the offensive side, we want each player knowing where to be in space as a teammate initiates a dodge, set the appropriate picks at the right spots on the field at the right time, make the appropriate cuts, etc.  On defense, we want good one on one technique with correct help defense ready for 2, 3, and (if we are very fortunate!) 4 slides; as well sticking with cutters.

On the other hand, as we drill down with repetition and verbal reinforcement of these concepts, we run the risk of creating quasi-robots that may end up lacking lacrosse IQ on their own without the structure of a scheme.  This may inhibit players to think for themselves and go off script to take advantage of mismatches and other opportunities; or fail to have success as structured schemes break down as the often inevitably do.

I coached one particular young player named Jared on my high school tournament team for the past 2 years, for example, that by in large stuck to the script of our offense that we call 34 motion.  The 34 motion’s basic structure has us constantly going in and out of 1-4-1 and 1-3-2 sets with dodges and off ball movement.  Jared has an uncanny ability to note when his defender is ball watching or otherwise disengaged with him and at the right time in the game and would back door cut with an open look to the goal.  He generally only does this when the ball is in possession with players he has extensive playing experience and chemistry with that know to watch for him to do this.  Jared also sets picks in situations that the offense generally does not call for under regular circumstances simply because he notices that a defender on one of his teammates it not even remotely looking for it.

I teach my players at all levels that although we have a fundamental structure, it is important to understand that they are not robots and are encouraged within reason to get creative and use their lacrosse IQ.  The concept of incorporating what some coaches refer to as free play facilitates this.  In addition to helping to build lacrosse IQ and encourage free thinking, free play also is a great deal of fun for young players who get bored with structured drills and set offenses and defensive schemes.

A basic free play model of half field has teams of 5 split evenly with an even number of D-poles on each team and the goalie playing for both teams.  D-poles play both offense and defense and the format is basically like half court basketball.  If the defensive team gets the ball back, they have to “check” the ball by clearing it to a point 5 yards north of the restraining box to then be able to go on offense.

While middies are accustomed to playing both offense and defense, most D-poles and attack are not, so free play enhances their game by letting them experience life on the other side to to speak.  Playing an opposing position in this manner enables players better understand and exploit its weaknesses.

During free play, coaches should not intervene and coach up the players at all other than call penalties, fouls, and out of bounds change of possession.  The rest should be up to the players to dodge, move, set picks, and cut all on their own.  The result almost instantly is that the players immediately start communicating with one another offensively and defensively, especially when their teammates are out of their depth playing an unfamiliar position.

Starting each practice with 5-10 minutes of free play invigorates the players with pick up style play, enhances their lacrosse IQ, and lets them cut loose and have some fun before getting down to business.  Beyond enhancing lacrosse IQ, free play also builds bonding as the players perform free of the constraints of coaches critique or judgement, relying solely on one another.

To be sure, coaches providing consistency and structure in a team’s game on both sides of the ball is very important.  Adding the element of free play in a practice offers them an added opportunity to improvise and create on their own while having a great time in the process.

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.

Lacrosse Players Are The Jedi Knights Of Athletics

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Lacrosse Players Are The Jedi Of Athletics

In the fictitious world of Star Wars, the order of the Jedi has ancient origins as warriors that devote their lives to service, pay it forward by taking on Padawan apprentices and focus on the core tenants of academics, philosophy, charity, and volunteerism.   By the relative technologies available in the Star Wars universe, their weapon of choice is a relatively primitive one, using their exceptional superhuman ability and knowledge of The Force to wield it.  In the words of Obi-Won Kenobi, the light saber is “An elegant weapon…from a more civilized age.”

Like the Jedi, lacrosse has its root in ancient North American history, invented by the Native Americans and played on this continent for nearly 1000 years, long before a European ever set foot on these shores.  Like the Jedi and per my last article, most lacrosse players are not satisfied to simply excel physically, but also yearn to enhance their lives with academic and career achievement, acts of service, and are compelled to pay it forward to share their knowledge of the discipline to future generations.

The weapon of choice of the lacrosse player the lacrosse stick.  Although it has undergone many modern innovations, its basic structure of a shaft, head, and basket to carry and throw the ball remains.  Like the light saber of Star Wars, it is an elegant weapon designed by an ancient and spiritual people uniquely connected to the earth’s energy that played lacrosse to honor the Creator, for their enjoyment, and even to foster peace as an alternative to war to settle disputes.  Like the light saber of the Jedi, it is not the lacrosse stick that matters but instead, the skill and discipline of the warrior who wields it.

Unique in a country that clings to its love of traditional sports, lacrosse players feel a special sisterhood and brotherhood among one another.  I can not even count how many times I have been addressed by a random stranger who is likewise connected to the game to talk lacrosse merely because I was wearing a lacrosse themed t-shirt.

This article may seem silly or corny to some, but I don’t care.  Like most lacrosse players, I have no qualms about daring to be different and celebrating my weirdness.  Most importantly, the idea for this article came from a conversation I recently had with my 9 year old son, who like his Dad is a Star Wars nerd who loves the game of lacrosse.  Also like me, fascinated and inspired by Native American culture, beyond enjoyment of the game itself, the Native American roots of lacrosse are for him a source of attraction to the sport.

In participating in the game, my son and I both embrace the fact that we are carrying on a truly ancient New World tradition and in coaching him, he is my Padawan learner.

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.

Spring Lacrosse Preseason – HIIT & Other Ways To Get Ready To Rock 2018

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HIIT Training Lacrosse

Spring preseason is one of the most exciting times for the lacrosse athlete.  The upcoming season is an open slate, there for the taking for the lacrosse player to write his or her future narrative; a fresh beginning where past disappointments and failures are now irrelevant other than to serve as motivation to make one’s mark this year.

Preparation is everything.  In addition to countless shots on the back yard goal, endless time on the wall and the rebounder, and practicing dodges and cuts; one must also prepare one’s body for the grind of the upcoming season.  Endurance, speed, and power are all essential to a successful lacrosse game, as well as possessing the ability to stay healthy and free of injury.  We cannot accomplish our goals while sitting on the sideline injured.

This is where training and nutrition come in.  As I discussed with my childhood lacrosse bud and now Trainer To The Stars Jordan on a recent episode of our Lacrosse and Sport Podcast, training is so much more than running and lifting weights.  We discussed the arcane ways that we trained as high school lacrosse athletes in the 1990’s and how all to often in this day and age, these arcane methods are still employed by coaches and Dads imparting their past training experiences on their kids.

Steve highlighted, for example, High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT for short.  HIIT consists of intervals of high intensity movement immediately followed by intervals of low to moderate intensity movement.  According to Steve, this offers the benefit of providing both a strength/power benefit to training in combination with a cardiovascular benefit to training.  Steve also noted that this also offers a more dynamic structure to training that better simulates and prepares the body for the physical taxing of the actual game: think of  a player huffing it down down on a fast break then transitioning to ripping a shot…a combination of speed, endurance, and power.  IN this spirit, Steve created a LAXFIT 6 week training program that incorporates HIIT and other training techniques invaluable for lacrosse season preparation.

From a nutritional standpoint, Steve declined to offer specific or overly detailed dietary regimens, but instead offered these basic guidelines:

  • If you look at the label of any food and there is an ingredient that you cannot pronounce, don’t eat it.
  • If the food did not exist 1000 years ago or was not around when your grandparents were kids, don’t eat it.
  • Don’t drink soda.
  • Don’t eat fast food.

Recovery is also key in preparing for the season.  As we push our bodies to the limit to maximize our potential in gaining speed, strength, and resilience against injury, our bodies need ample sleep and rest to recover and provide us net gains.  Nutrition plays a huge role in recovery, but in addition to ample sleep, it is also important that the training regimen is varied in a manner to prevent over training.  Thus, if is not cost prohibitive, a personal trainer or group training with a certified trainer is ideal to.

Now is the time to start your 2018 spring lacrosse journey.  Remember, how you do one thing is how your do everything!

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.

Things To Look Forward To In 2018 For Lacrosse

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US Lacrosse Small Ball Changes 2018

Every year changes are made in the game of lacrosse in an attempt to continually improve the experience and growth of our beloved sport.  Changes come primarily from US Lacrosse and occasionally from other governing bodies like the NCAA.  Most of the time, changes end up being for the better.

For 2018, one of the exciting developments carrying over into youth lacrosse groups from last year is youth leagues across the country taking the plunge to implement small ball for optimal development of young lacrosse athletes.  The small ball approach maintains smaller field sizes and team sizes.  The result is that players get more touches of the ball and remain more consistently engaged in play.  See the link below for the current US Lacrosse youth small ball guidelines:

https://www.uslacrosse.org/blog/us-lacrosse-announces-new-boys-youth-rules

What spurred this initiative was reporting by the Sport and Fitness Industry Association that 2007 – 2014, the number of children aged 6-12 participating in traditional sports (baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball, track and field) dropped precipitously from 35% to 27%.  During the same time, the same study concluded that hockey participation grew by a stellar 43% (lacrosse during this time lacrosse grew by a more modest 29%).

Looking to emulate the success of USA Hockey in shortening the size of the hockey rinks and goals for young lacrosse players led to the new small ball standard for maximizing development and enjoyment in the the sport of lacrosse.

From the college recruiting side of lacrosse, we can look forward to a new era where young lacrosse players can enjoy the sport without the pressure of the college recruiting process.  In a vote that went down last year, college coaches are now prohibited from making contact with players before September of their junior year of high school.  In a college recruiting process that had players signing commitment letters as ridiculously early as 7th grade, this is a huge development.

As already mentioned, this restriction facilitates unbridled enjoyment of the sport without the pressure of the college recruiting process that can be overwhelming to young athletes. It also evens the playing field for young athletes that are late bloomers that may have otherwise gotten passed over in the recruiting process simply because they needed more time to hit puberty.

In girls and women’s lacrosse news for 2018, they will now be allowed to use lacrosse sticks with pockets strung with mesh.  This will offer girls and women more variation in their preference for different pocket types that the boys and men’s game has enjoyed since the 1980’s.  Lax.com has already begin selling girls and women’s lacrosse heads strung with custom mesh pockets for 2018.

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

US Lacrosse New Age Guidelines Present Challenges For Emerging Lacrosse Markets

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US Lacrosse New Age Bracket Guidelines

Having been associated with US Lacrosse for many years and having been appreciative of their guidance as they advocate for the growth of the sport of lacrosse, I understand how much time and research they put into their decisions.  Thus, from the outset of this article, I want to be clear that I admire and respect US Lacrosse and appreciate their efforts and guidance.  Many decisions are made for the greater good and will inevitably render some unwanted consequences.  The US Lacrosse age segmentation policy effective 9/1/2017 is a clear example.

US Lacrosse this year transitioned away this year for the under age categorization to an age and under categorization.  For example, the old U15 age bracket which would have represented players that were under the age of 15 as of the US Lacrosse cut off date of 8/31/2017 is now 14U with the new cut off date of 9/1/2017.  Under the U15 categorization, 15 year old athletes could play youth ball provided that they turned 15 after the cut off date.  In the 14U classification, 15 year old players are now eliminated from youth lacrosse eligibility.

I understand the intent here, which is to establish age categories that correspond more closely with the grade most kids fall into in a given age bracket, and in the case of the 14U division, this generally prohibits any high school freshmen from participating in youth lacrosse, making 8th grade the final year that a player may participate in youth lacrosse.

For long established lacrosse markets like my childhood state of New Jersey and other areas like New York, Maryland, etc., this does not generally present any challenges since most of these areas have thriving middle school, JV, and Varsity programs.  However, in my adopted home state of Florida and particularly the Florida Space Coast where the sport is still very much in emerging market phase, we are facing difficulties at the 14U division and its enforcement.

One of the most pressing concerns is that we have several counties that do not have middle school athletic teams and high school programs that do not have enough players to field JV teams.  This translates to still prepubescent and/or still developmental freshmen either being promoted to varsity or not playing at all.  Such a move puts such a player in physical danger often pitting a young player who is essentially a boy or girl against young men or women.  It also stifles lacrosse skill development for players who struggle just to physically keep up with far more developed athletes that they should have no business going up against.

Another issue is players that have been held back a year for academic reasons.  Although a player may be in 8th grade, he/she will likely be ineligible to play youth lacrosse, yet he/she cannot play JV because he/she is not a member of the high school.  On the flip side, there are academically gifted players that have skipped a grade which would make such a player a high school freshmen, still youth age eligible, but deemed ineligible for youth lacrosse due to school year.

These are all of the issues we are facing in our lacrosse county rec league here in the Florida Space Coast, the Brevard Lacrosse Alliance.  I know that we are not alone in the state of Florida, hearing the issue raised among colleagues all over the state.  I am certain that other states that are still emerging lacrosse markets are in similar predicaments.

Thankfully, US Lacrosse at this time provides these guidelines as exactly that: guidelines.  At this time, I have been assured by US Lacrosse, that tweaking the guidelines for the unique needs of the individual programs will not at this time affect our liability concerns as it pertains to program insurance obtained via US Lacrosse.  Also, this really is only an issue at the 14U level and seems to work just fine for all younger divisions.

Our ultimate policy in being a club that feels strongly about following US Lacrosse guidelines as closely as we possibly can, is that we intend to follow US Lacrosse guidelines for every division with the exception of our oldest youth division.  Our policy is to enforce the 14U age bracket with exceptions for the allowance of 15U age eligible freshmen that are not concurrently on a JV or varsity roster.

Enforcement may prove challenging as our league grows, but by the time that becomes an issue, we are hopeful that with the growth of our numbers and more high school programs having thriving JV programs, the 14U age classification will no longer be as much of an issue.

We remain grateful for US Lacrosse and their national leadership in the sport of lacrosse.  We are also grateful for the flexibility in transitioning to strive to meet their guidelines.  A lot of smart people with countless years of experience in the sport of lacrosse and sports science that work for US Lacrosse constantly debate these issues which gives us tremendous respect for their adopted policies.

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

Beware – Female Athletes Significantly More Prone To ACL Tears Of The Knee!

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Non-contact ACL tears occur 5 time more commonly in female athletes than males

The anterior cruciate ligament is the major stabilizing ligament of the knee joint.  It is one of the most common sports related injuries that leads to athletes losing significant time on the field and can be career altering.  One in 3000 athletes will experience an ACL tear in general according to the Orthopedic Specialists of North Carolina.

There are two types of ACL tears that occur in athletes, contact and non-contact injuries.  Contact injuries lead to tear as the result of collision or impact, while non-contact ACL tears are the result of simple plant and pivot.  It is the latter, the non-contact ACL tear, that female athletes experience at a rate 5 times greater than males.

I am fortunate to have a great resource on this topic, friend, childhood lacrosse buddy, lacrosse podcast co-host, and trainer to the stars Steve Jordan (SteveJordanFitness.com).  According to Steve, there are key reasons why females are structurally at greater risk for ACL injury:

  1. Females’ knees are more  “turned in” (toward the midline of the body).
  2. Females’ knees are less bent when jumping and landing.
  3. Females jump and run with the soles of the feet in a more rigid position and directed away from the body’s center of gravity.

Much of these differences, according to Steve, is the result of unique anatomical difference in the pelvic cradle of females that is designed to facilitate child bearing.

In light of these findings, we not only have a better understanding of the answer to the question of why female athletes are so much more predisposed to ACL tears, but also have the ability to prescribe a solution. Even more exciting, the solution is not some new, outlandish, complicated, surgical procedure requiring months of recovery, but a comprehensive preventative rehabilitation program that can be performed by any athlete.

In the lacrosse club that I preside over in my community, we are fortunate to have a girls coach that is a physical therapist by trade, whose main role is to warm our girls up and coordinate conditioning sessions designed to prevent ACL tears and other injuries.  I believe it is in the best interests of any female athletic organization to have similar expertise in the management of injury prevention programs.  Whether it be a physical therapist or a highly educated and experienced athletic trainer like Steve Jordan to integrate into an organization for this purpose, it is a worthy and justified investment that will prove priceless in keeping the girls safe.

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.

Managing Pain In Athletes Without Medications And Their Side Effects

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Drug Free Pain Relief From Athletic Injuries

My Lacrosse and Sport Podcast co-host and life long friend Steve Jordan and I recently had an informative interview with our mutual long life long friend, Dr. Brian Paris (episode in player above).  Brian is a chiropractor that has expanded his knowledge and technical expertise throughout his impressive career, recruited the very best talent representing a vast diversity of medicine, and combined them in his integrative Pain and Arthritis Relief Center in Rockville, Maryland.

I would encourage my readers to give the episode a listen, especially those who either themselves suffer from chronic pain or have child athletes that may have chronic injuries or conditions that cause pain and interfere with their quality of life and enjoyment of sports.  Even the healthiest of young athletes will experience at least minor injuries on occasion.  Even the mere act of simply growing can cause pain in young athletes that leads to down time, as seen in cases of Sever’s Disease and Osgood-Schlatter Disease.

A victim of a gastrointestinal ulcer from taking anti-inflammatory medication as a child athlete, Brian and practitioners like him seek treatment modalities that relieve pain and heal without negative side effects as some medications can cause.  In my conversations with Brian and upon review of his center’s website, two key approaches in particular stuck out to me with regard to the scope and readership of this blog.

The first was pioneered by Brian’s colleague Andrew Bloch, a physical therapist and acupuncturist who developed a trade marked therapeutic combination of Eastern and Western disciplines called Reflexive Pattern Therapy.  Straight from the Pain and Arthritis Relief Center’s website:

RPT™ focuses on particular patterns within the autonomous nervous system that, when located and corrected, relieve chronic pain. The technique uses reflexes as a tool to fix these patterns, but instead of using a reflex hammer, Andrew uses his hands to deliver fast, pressurized contact movements to patients’ problem areas. These movements evoke a reflex from the patient, causing the body to react with equal momentum, resulting in immediate pain relief.  Once the pain is alleviated with RPT™, Andrew turns his focus to the somatic nervous system and equips his patients with stretches to strengthen their core for long-term relief. No pills or surgery are involved. The biggest benefit of RPT™? Patients feel better instantaneously. In Andrew’s own words, “You will feel better immediately. Not a day or two days later, but right away.”

The second therapeutic approach is for specific sports injuries like tendonitis, bursitis, muscle and ligament strains/sprains, etc. Brian’s practice applies an approach they call RICE (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) while also correcting postural deficiencies in the athlete that may be predisposing the body to these injuries.

Brian and his team’s approach to pain and arthritis relief reminds me a great deal of a similar branch of my field of veterinary medicine called “veterinary rehabilitation.”  As an integrative veterinarian, while I always seek minimally invasive and side effect free courses of therapy, we also understand that there are some cases that require surgery.  A CCL tear (the veterinary equivalent of an ACL tear) will not never heal without surgical intervention.  Thus, one of the most important tenants of veterinary rehabilitation is “if it is unstable, send it to the table.”  As a result, in the same day, I may surgically reduce a fracture, repair a CCL tear, use my Class IV therapy laser, and perform acupuncture.

With the exception of ACL tears, compound or displaced fractures and other injuries that necessarily require surgery at least in the first phase of treatment, I would encourage anyone who lives with chronic pain of musculo-skeletal or neurological origin to seek out facilities like the Pain and Arthritis Relief Center in Rockville, Maryland.  While it benefits people of all ages to minimize dependence on medications, it is especially important for children try avoiding drugs with internal organs are still developing.

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.