Players on teams other than the Lizards and Bayhawks generally do not live near the city their team is located in, which means traveling to any required team functions. Unlike other professional sports, very few MLL players are "full time" professionals, meaning that they tend to carry "real" jobs outside of lacrosse. While their employers are fairly flexible, no reasonable company should be expected to accommodate the full rigors of a professional athlete's schedule.
This results in many teams hobbling sessions together once a week, often times the day before games. As the season wears on the teamwork improves, but never to the level we see in the NCAA or even in high school games. Unfortunately this creates the impression that MLL players are a selfish lot, determined to carry the ball through the defense instead of moving it around the offense. In some cases this may be true, but for the most part it is evidence that there is a lack in confidence among teammates.
***Summer Lacrosse League is not unlike the MLL in that aspect. With a wide range of ages, we have players in different stages of their lives. Everybody has different commitments outside of lacrosse. Considering that this is a primarily recreational league, nobody should ever expect that practices would supersede personal obligations (though making time for games may be another story).
Our philosophy is that teams can organize their own practices, under their own conditions and on their own time. Unlike high school and college programs, players cannot be punished for not attending practice since this is not part of the league set up. In that, we are like the adult hockey leagues in Des Moines (and I would imagine most other sports leagues as well).
Although I draw some comparisons between our league and the MLL, I am not suggesting that we are competing anywhere near the same level. I am really just drawing parallels. Unfortunate parallels, in regards to the way the professional league is forced to operate...
***But my real appreciation for MLL players comes from their ability to balance lacrosse with their "real" lives. These are men that hold professional careers completely unrelated to lacrosse, own or rent homes, and in some cases support families. They are at the age in which weddings and babies are abundant, and obligations seemingly exceed time. Yet they find a way to play professional lacrosse against the best athletes in the sport. I applaud them for that.
In the midst of coaching, moving, two major deaths in my family, and taking baby classes, we have launched (with a lot of help from Coach Zach and a few others) our city's first Youth Lacrosse Program this summer. The planning mostly fell smack dab in the middle of the busiest period of my life so far, yet everything is ready to go. The structure is in place, the equipment is together (thank you Henson Group), the volunteers are set up, and the kids are registered. Unfortunately we had to close registration early due to limited resources (especially volunteers) and a desire for a soft launch. When the program begins tonight, it will all be worth it.
Compared to launching the Youth Program, preparing the second annual Summer Lacrosse League was cake. Still, it was not without its own hurdles - everything from people never reading their email (problem with the Youth too) to everybody waiting until the last minute (probably a symptom of not reading) to ordering jerseys to securing fields to balancing the schedule to accommodate the majority effectively to realigning rosters. My wife will be the first to tell you that between the start of registration through the first night of our leagues I am a volatile mix of frustration and excitement; it is in these times that I remember why I no longer work in customer service... Still, like the Youth Program, everything will be better once our opening face off occurs tonight.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for playing. And thanks for your patience.