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Saturday, September 4, 2010

2010 CILA Summer League - What I Learned Part 4

Reflecting on the 2010 CILA Summer League:
10. The league was missing something
I can't quite put my finger on it, but it just kind of felt like something was missing from the summer league. We had four teams - four competitive teams (despite Mi Casa Rustic Furniture losing every game). We had great players. We had officials, a horn, face offs, long poles, etc.
So what was missing?
*A scoreboard for one. Sure we brought out a white board, but it was not exactly the most efficient system. Between now and next summer I will be looking into proper scoreboard system and possibly a table to place it on.
*We could also use a better system for assigning referees. This is something I have struggled with since last year's box league. This is the biggest issue plaguing this year's box league. What usually happens is that Zach, Tyler, Jim, and myself end up reffing every game that we are not playing in. Alec and Cam also did a lot of reffing, but both are off to college now. Often times all of us are split between two teams, which means that finding officials for our games can be tricky. Complicating things is the carpooling of the Iowa State and Drake teams. It's hard to keep one or two guys to ref when two or three more are depending on them for a ride. If anyone has suggestions for fixing this problem - especially before the box league starts - I am all ears...
*Something else? During the Championship Weekend, I was inspired to post a poll about which of the two Major League Lacrosse rules people would like to see incorporated into our summer league - the two point shot arch or the 60 second shot clock. The response was fairly overwhelming with 24 votes - a little under 1/4 of our league participation.
Even more surprising was that the vast majority actually voted for both rule changes! I figured that there would be an overwhelming wave of negative responses since most laxers here (and across the country) complain about the MLL's rules. Then again, we are a new area and a lot of players here really only have access to MLL games. We have grown accustomed to the rules (which I find more entertaining at the pro level). I don't disagree that they might add an element of fun and excitement to our league.
The tricky part will be implementing them. The two point arch is fairly easy as it more or less replaces the box. Having both officials in a place were they can judge whether or not the player's feet were outside the arch on release will be a bit harder. Still, I think this is doable.
The shot clock presents a problem as we do not have a way to present the time to the field via an electronic score board. Maybe we can have the refs count it down somehow. If this is something that people really want, we can certainly look at low cost/low tech ways to implement it next season. Again, I am open to suggestions. This would also eliminate the offensive box and its related penalties.

I am interested to know if anybody else has anything they want to share about the summer league experience. My desire is to create the best experience possible at the lowest cost to everybody involved. Although I "run things," I really care about what the players think. This league is as much yours as it is mine.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Boy Scouts Lax Event - Water Works

Boy Scouts at Water Works

The Boy Scouts of America will be having their 100th Anniversary Encampment on Saturday, September 18 at Water Works Park on the south side of Des Moines. They are expecting over 5,000 people and will offer many events throughout the day. John Yasenko, Summer League player, is a District Executive for the Boy Scouts and has organized a lacrosse event as part of the celebration. Yasenko is looking for at least 10 volunteers to assist him.

Yasenko has set up a pretty good deal for those that volunteer. See below for the full details. The Boy Scouts are providing the balls, but Yasenko does ask that you bring your extra sticks for instruction. You will be teaching interested boys how to play. This is a great opportunity to increase lacrosse participation in Des Moines and throughout the state of Iowa.

If you are interested in volunteering or attending, please contact John Yasenko. He is coordinating all of the volunteers.

The details:

  • 30 minute sessions of basic instruction - passing, cradling, scooping, etc.
  • Demonstration of full contact drills - Oklahoma, Checks, Groundballs, etc.
  • Broken into two sessions per the schedule below
  • Five volunteers per session
  • Free admission to the event
  • Free participation in other activities
  • Free lunch

The schedule:

  • 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
  • Lunch break - includes free lunch
  • 1:00 pm -5:00 pm

The FREE activities:

  • Paintball course
  • Knife throwing
  • Climbing Walls
  • Firecrafting
  • Shooting ranges
  • Archery ranges
  • Civil War reenactment
  • Potentially more to come

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

2010 CILA Summer League - What I Learned Part 3

Reflecting on the 2010 CILA Summer League:
7. A ball troll resides at Indian Hills
No matter how long we searched for balls... No matter matter how many people looked... We just could not finish a week's worth of games without losing a ball or two. Ok, there might have been one week that see me leave with every ball I brought. But the last few weeks were the worst. I lost four balls after the championship game. Considering that Indian Hills is flat and unobstructed, I just do not understand how they all disappeared like that...
We lost roughly two dozen balls over ten game nights.
8. Patrick Shelton will kill you if you get anywhere near the crease
Every attackman and middie playing for somebody other than Lightning Wear learned this the hard way. Hearing Shelton call out that he was covering you was enough to make you cry a little bit (on the inside). He was like a mamma crocodile protecting its nest. His size, speed, and sheer brutality kept the Bolts' crease area clean all season.
The league's other big hitter was Ben Shoff. While not as fast or intimidating as Shelton, Shoff gladly showed off his ability to hit. My ribs are still bruised (and hurt like hell) from our last encounter.
9. I am magnetically attracted to the ground
After years of playing hockey, I was convinced that my balance is infallible. I rarely hit the ice due to a check or anything other than dull skates. Sadly this ability did not carry over to lax.
If I was a gambling man, I would bet that I hit the ground as a result of checks more than every other attackman in the league combined. Maybe it's the skates that keep me up on the ice. Maybe it's the five pounds I've put on since hockey season finished that put me on the turf. Or maybe I'm just getting old. Regardless, I know that I rolled more grass than Snoop Dogg.
My wife happily told me that every time somebody hit the ground, she knew it was me. Even if I wasn't playing... Sigh...
For the record, I think every time I was on the ground, Shelton or Shoff was involved.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reminder - Southside Clinic Tonight

Just a friendly reminder that there is an introductory lacrosse clinic tonight at Jefferson Elementary on the south side of Des Moines. The clinic is for new players - primarily middle & high schoolers in the Lincoln, Norwalk, Carlisle, Indianola, and Roosevelt districts - but anybody interested in learning men's lacrosse is invited.

Jefferson Elementary
2425 Watrous Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50321-2146

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Cool Website for Lax History Buffs

I don't know how I stumbled across this website, but I'm glad I did. It contains some great lax history - including the history of the three big companies (STX, Warrior, Brine). There are outstanding pictures and descriptions. There is even a "who made this head?" feature. For anyone that has an old stick or played before offset heads and titanium sticks, this site is a trip down memory lane.
Here are some pics from the site, just to give you a preview. Seriously, there is some cool stuff here! The Old School Lax freak knows his stuff and has an incredible selection of historical sticks and equipment.
Hey, some of this stuff is even older than Jim! Just kidding.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

2010 CILA Summer League - What I Learned Part 2

Reflecting on the 2010 CILA Summer League:
4. Creating fair and balanced teams is harder than it seems
With the box league last fall, I was happy just to have enough guys to make a worthwhile league. It was a no-brainer to have all of the ISU guys on one team; they could carpool to Des Moines that way. Putting the Drake guys together made sense too as not every student has access to a car and many of them lived together anyway. At that point we decided that the Valley guys would get more out of the league if they competed together.
I wanted to avoid lumping teams together for the summer league as much as possible. Obviously the Drake guys still carpooled, so they were a chunk. Then Zach suggested that balancing him and Tyler with the younger Valley guys would help bring them along; it made sense then and still does. The next step was balancing the adult players, remaining Valley players, and absolute newbies - all while taking ride sharing into consideration. To top it off, I had never even met most of the experienced adult players. I had no idea how good they would be.
I tried to be fair by taking what little I knew about the leftover players and distributing them between Mi Casa, Lightning, and Drake. With three of the four leading Valley scorers over the last two seasons and the Tigers' starting goalie, I knew it would tricky. But I figured Drake was fairly stacked and felt confident in Burk, Johnston, and Miska to preserve the balance. I split Valley's starting defense, and then did my best to guesstimate the skill levels.
Despite the standings, I think I did a decent job. I would say that Lightning's advantage came more from their familiarity than any superior skill. While the team did have several outstanding players, I would say that the league's best individual players were on Clark and the best collection of great players was on Mi Casa (hell no, I'm not including myself!). Hence, the All League teams.
5. Absences are a pain in the ass
Sometimes life gets in the way. I know that as well as anybody; I'm not able to attend as many Valley practices as I would prefer. Being summer, so many things come up and it is understandable that people will miss a game from time to time for whatever reason. I'm fine with that. It's a summer rec league after all.
For the most part, we have several ways to recover from absences - players from the other game volunteering to sub, non-league players filling in, shortened benches, etc. But when goalies were gone, it created a world of panic. When I knew far enough in advance, I could schedule an outside goalie like Mark Anderson or Trevor Stoakes. Or I could at least try to get another league goalie to pull double duty. As the season wore on, a couple of players routinely stepped up and filled in as backups - Nate Kaufmann and Tanner McDougal. Both did fairly well and I am truly thankful that they were willing and able to do so on multiple occasions.
6. We can make the best out of a bad situation
On many occasions teams did not have enough players show up to play a full line up. Even when substitutes were present, we ran into many instances where we just did not have enough players. The decision to play 8v8 lax was well received. Removing a d-pole and attack men meant that we could till play the full field without much compromise. It did open the play a bit and brought interesting dynamics to the attack setup. In many ways, it was like playing man down lacrosse in terms of offensive schemes and defensive coverage.
Even though we all prefer playing 10v10, it is good to know that an 8v8 game is doable. Next year's league will be planned as a full 10v10, but it is good to know that we have successfully tested our back up plan. Hopefully the ever increasing number of players will prevent us from having to use it though...

Tribe 7