Editor’s Note: Our Aussie friend Shendelle Oliver dropped us a line to fill us in on what’s goin’ on Down Under and what the final preparations are looking like as the Australian lacrosse team prepares for the 2014 World Lacrosse Championship in Denver.
The history of the game of lacrosse tells the story that the ‘Creator’ invented the medicine game and gave it to the Haudenosaunee people.
In the coming weeks the Haudenosaunee people will share their game of healing with the world. The 2014 World Lacrosse Championship will kick off in Denver, Colorado on July 10th, 2014 and Australia will be there, ready to take on the world.
Coached by five time Australia lacrosse representative Glenn Meredith, the Australian team is described as focus, driven, respected and fearless. On the night before the Australian team departs for the USA, we caught up with Coach Meredith to check in on where things are at for the Aussies.
Meredith himself comes with years of international playing and coaching experience. He first represented Australia at Under 19 level in 1983 and went onto the play in Senior World Championships in 1985, 1989, 1990 in the USA and in Perth. He also coached his home state of Victoria to five consecutive National Championships in a row from 2007 – 2011 so the Aussies are led by one of their very best.
Who coaching style do you model yourself on?
Gary Campbell from Malvern Lacrosse Club (Malvern Life member, 3 time State League Premiership coach) has been an influence on me as a Senior Coach. He was always relatively calm and focused on the bigger picture and that would be what I’m like as a Senior Coach.
Also, Peter Weatherall (Australian Under 19 coach 1983 and Caulfield Legend) from my Under 19 days at Caulfield Lacrosse Club drew a lot out of me and those under him as well with a similar focus and Bill Stahmer (Australian Head Coach 1990) whilst more of a blood and guts coach from the 80s believed in me and was extremely passionate. I don’t really follow a particular coaching style and l am a firm believer that as a Head Coach that my role is the big picture and my only motto would be to “Coach the game and not the moment.”
It’s quiet ironic to watch AFL Coaches (Australian Football), as professional as they are jumping out of their chairs when one free kick goes against them. I don’t think that’s constructive to anyone around them and simply infers to the opposition that they and their team are under pressure.
What has been the best part about this journey so far?
Putting together the whole process and watching it come to life, l was appointed Head coach in November 2011 and went out and purchased 3 huge white boards, screwed them to my wall and wrote the basic plan from November 2011 to July 2014 on them.
If you were a goal keeper who would you be scared of shooting at you?
Matt Diver, Nigel Morton, Ben Newman, any long pole, just about everyone really….lol
If you were an opposition attack player who do you think would hit you the hardest?
Callum Robinson (Stevenson University All-American), Ross Hamilton, John Tokarua, all of which are terrific athletes and were referred to as the bulk pack recently. When you include their current fitness levels they would certainly “pack a punch” that I wouldn’t want to be on the end of.
What are the key strengths of the player group?
l know the players by now understand that we belong and will compete with anybody, on any ground and at any venue, when we play our brand of lacrosse.
Any concerns you have moving forward?
Ted Polglaze (our Sports Scientist) has been fantastic with every step of the journey and believe he with Stu Cormack have covered every base with preparation and training to the minute.
Playing at 1000 metres in Denver has its difficulties but the Vail tournament at 1600 metres the week before will have us in great shape for the players to adjust. Injuries are a part of the game we play and we are well covered should we get a few injuries but that is always a vexed question.
What are your expectations or aims to gain from the Vail tournament?
Vail has a 2 point line and a 30 second shot clock so this brings a difference from that point of view that we, as a coaching crew need to adapt to whist still stringing midfield, attack and defense lines that work together and will be tough assignment as the opposition will be quality and probably played there before but every game we play together regardless of the rules makes us stronger.
What are you most looking forward to in Denver and why?
Being with a group of players that deserve to be rewarded for the skill they have and sacrifices they have made to be there. I can’t wait to watch them grow in belief in the first game.
The founder of the game have many traditions around the playing lacrosse, what traditions, if any, does the Australian team have?
I don’t believe Australia have traditions however if in Denver we represent all Australian Senior teams that have gone before us with guts, honesty, skill and with a ferocious appetite for the contest then we will be successful as a group.
Anyone you would like to personally thank?
My whole house has been a lacrosse storage and office facility for the last 2 years. My wife Karen and my 2 kids have lived it with me and have simply been amazing.
We don’t have a day that lacrosse and this team hasn’t been front and centre in our family home at Murrumbeena Crescent. I know l will really miss it and the players when Denver is over.
Any final words of inspirations for your team?
It’s taken me a while to learn about them and them about me but these are the best group of young men I have been involved with and we are an extremely high-quality lacrosse team. Denver brings challengers and tests for us as group but at our best we are an outstanding team.
Any other comments from you Coach Meredith?
It has simply been my honor to work with Peter Brown, Murray Keen, Rod Ansell, Phil Ackland as a coaching crew. We look forward to everything that lies in front of us from departing Australia to Denver and the World Championships.
The players have been amazing in their dedication, focus and commitment.
We Fear No One!!!