What a day. Coach Lou and I had an early morning workout to wake ourselves up. Then it was time to get ready for the opening of the convention. The whole place came together overnight. The live field was ringed with netting and loudspeakers were set up for the coaches attending. The expo featured dozens of companies who were selling all kinds of lacrosse swag and services.
Once we were settled, Coach Lou and I went our separate ways. He went to prepare for his presentation and I went to the officials side of the convention center. For six hours I was inundated with new material that will hopefully prepare me for the upcoming season. I must tell you, the caliber of officials speaking at this event is remarkable. I am sitting in rooms with guys who have 15+ years of NCAA officiating experience and they are listening to the same presentation by a referee who has 30+ years in the stripes! It is enough to make you dizzy.
After the officials presentations winded down I headed to the Demo Field to watch my Dad speak about “Six Drills for Speed.” He presented various drills that are designed to expose players to practicing quickly and up-tempo. These drills mimic game speed as good as you can get in practice, and throughout the presentation Coach Lou was throwing balls at players yelling, “faster, quicker!” Roughly 50-60 coaches were seated or standing in the bleachers taking notes, asking questions, or recording the drills. I am certain they will implement at least one of Coach Lou’s drills in their pre-season practice plans.
Once Coach Lou was finished speaking I headed into the expo to check out the vendors. This was an experience. Bright colors, crazy logos, weird sticks and heads were all around. I felt like I was in the BrandsMart of Lacrosse. I passed by one booth that stopped me in my tracks. Wheelchair Lacrosse is a group headed by Ryan Baker and Bill Lundstrom that provides instruction in and exhibitions of wheelchair lacrosse. Inspired by wheelchair basketball these guys want to grow the sport of wheelchair lacrosse nationwide to provide another avenue of sport for disabled players young and old. Watching the video of these guys play and taking with Ryan and Bill was truly inspiring. You can look forward to future articles on this sport as AYL and Wheelchair Lacrosse move forward.
After making the rounds of the expo it was time for the keynote address by Jackie Joyner-Kersee. An Olympic Gold Medalist in 1988 and 1992 in the Heptathlon I expected her speech to include how she rose to her success. Instead, she chronicled her defeats and how they fueled her dream to become the most mentally strong athlete at the Olympics. She detailed how her support group of husband, friends, and coaches pushed her hard enough so she could win a gold medal. Her lasting message was that anyone’s dream can be realized but no one can do it on their own.
Mrs. Joyner-Kersee’s speech was a fantastic way to open up the convention and explain why lacrosse needs committed coaches and parents so the kids playing the game today will become the champions of tomorrow.
Now, I cannot go into too much detail of the night Coach Lou and I had after the convention wrapped up for the day. Suffice it to say, we had an enjoyable time yukking it up with all of his college buddies. Tune in tomorrow for a recap of Day 3!