Editor’s Note: Rob McQuade interviewed his friend, Charlie White, who is coaching lacrosse in England right now. Charlie is a DC native who, after playing lacrosse at Mount Saint Mary’s and the University of Mary Washington, decided to live the lax dream of playing and coaching lacrosse in England and traveling the world.
How did you get involved with the English Lacrosse Association and what is their mission?
I first heard about the English Lacrosse Association through word of mouth when I was getting recruited to play in college. It sounded like a great experience so I kept it in the back of my mind throughout school. During my senior year I went on their website and applied, and fortunately, got the job.
The mission of the English Lacrosse Association is to grow the game of lacrosse in England. In England, men’s lacrosse is pretty much only played in two places: the Manchester area, and the London area. Women’s lacrosse is played more because it has become a school-sponsored sport, and it’s pretty big in the south. Our goal is to increase awareness of the game in England. They just had a big boost with the International Lacrosse Federation Championships being here over the summer, so we’re trying to build on that.
Describe to us a typical day in the life of a “laxbassador” (lax ambassador)…
On a typical day I generally get up and head to 3 or 4 schools to teach lacrosse. What we basically do is take over a P.E. class for a day and teach lacrosse skills and have games. We go to most schools just once a week so all the kids know that, for example, every Tuesday is lacrosse day. I bring a bunch of plastic sticks to use with younger kids (8-11 year olds) and real sticks for when I work with middle school and high school classes.
What’s been the biggest challenge teaching English kids lacrosse? The easiest part?
The biggest challenge in teaching English kids lacrosse is getting them to forget about soccer (football). Soccer is so dominant in England that it is hard to get kids to think about anything else. Unlike in the states where some kids want to be pro basketball players when they grow up while some want to be pro football players when the grow up, literally every kid in England wants to be a soccer player. Getting them to accept a new sport can sometimes be tough.
The easiest part is teaching them the skills of lacrosse once they’ve decided they want to play. The kids are really eager to learn and pick things up quickly, it makes my job easy.
What kind of stick do you use?
I use any kind of Evolution head I can get my hands on, currently I’m working with a Evo 2.0. And I’m using a Maverick H2 shaft.
Which lacrosse company’s equipment do you use in teaching?
We use Warrior and Brine equipment in teaching. They’re the more prevalent companies in England.
Have you had to restring a stick over there? Is it hard to find the necessary equipment to get the job done?
I’ve had to restring a number of sticks since I’ve been here; it rains a lot which doesn’t help the life of a stick. Fortunately, I brought a bunch of stringing supplies over with me because it is hard to find equipment and it is a lot more expensive. Uklacrosse.com is a good website to get things from here but there aren’t any stores and getting things shipped from America costs a fortune.
Have you had a chance to sightsee or visit other countries?
I have and it’s been amazing. We had a short break in October and took the obligatory trip to Amsterdam with most of the Americans who are over here. We just recently got two weeks off for the holidays and went traveling through Italy and Spain. Being able to see Europe is amazing and traveling once you’re already across the Atlantic is really cheap.
What do you think of the lax fashion sense of the English clubs?
I’d say the fashion sense here is real hit or miss, mostly a miss. Most of the clubs like to utilize a three-color scheme, but in the strangest way possible. My clubs colors are blue, red, and yellow and all are pretty prominent in the uniform. Subtle accents have not made it here. Also most teams rock some pretty old school jerseys. There’s a lot of heavy mesh being worn. I’d say they’re a good 10 years behind the times.
How would you compare the lax IQ of the more seasoned English lacrosse players? How do you think they would fare in the NCAA or MCLA?
The lax IQ of the seasoned guys can be pretty good. A lot of the teams have players from the English national team on them, and they are always well-coached and good players. There are definitely some people who would fare well in the NCAA or MCLA. They have a lot of good young talent as well. The 16-18 year olds here have been playing since they were ten are as good as high school kids in America. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more English players coming to play in America soon.
Any differences between coaching American kids and English kids?
The real difference is just the amount of coaching that can be done. English kids only have practice once a week so it’s tough trying to fit everything in to that small time slot.
That was really quite illuminating! Thanks to Rob for asking the questions and Charlie for answering them! Open, honest, awesome and International. We couldn’t ask for anything more!!