For our newest FIRESIDE CHAT, I got the chance to speak with Shamel Bratton and Rhamel Bratton, two of the big names on the LXM PRO Tour right now. I had a hunch this would be a great conversation, and these guys didn’t disappoint one bit. They’ve got a great perspective on the game and where they’re headed in life, and we here at LAS want to wish them the best of luck moving forward! Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, fellas!
You guys grew up on Long Island and played lacrosse at Huntington High School against some of the best teams in the country. What do you think of the Long Island High School lax scene? What was it like playing in such a hot bed area?
Rhamel – The LI lax scene is awesome for a kid growing up because there are a ton of great coaches and great college players from the area to learn from. Playing on LI was fun and highly competitive due to so many great young players coming from the area.
Shamel -Growing up on Long Island was a great experience from an athletic point of view. Lacrosse, in my opinion, was more popular than any other sport, and almost every town had some sort of program. Games were very competitive, which made our interscholastic play very fun, and it also really helped shape our talents.
After playing on LI, you headed down to Virginia to continue your lacrosse experiences in college. UVA has a rich lacrosse history, but the surrounding area isn’t quite the hotbed that Long Island is. Was that a cultural change that you noticed at all?
R – Not so much a culture change. But there was less of a focus on lacrosse and other sports. Seeing as Virginia is in the South, the area is big on high school football.
S – Lacrosse history definitely was strong at UVA. I would say as far as lacrosse’s popularity, there was a little drop off.
Now that you’re able to step back and take a look at your college decision processes, is there ONE piece of advice you’d give to current high schoolers looking to play at the next level?
R - I would tell young players being who are being recruited heavily by their respective schools to really take a look at the guys on the team as well as the students within the classroom, if that’s at all possible.
S - I would say make the decision for yourself;, do not allow outside forces or influences to make such a big decision for you.
You’re now playing on the LXM PRO tour now, and I’m curious what drew you to that organization? Why do you believe in what the LXM is doing?
R - I love the way in which the LXM PRO is structured, as well as the guys behind the scenes. I believe in what LXM is doing mainly because it really wants the game of lacrosse to grow and spread around the country.
S -I heard about the LXM PRO Tour while I was in college and right away was drawn to the way they were spreading the game. I think the guys running the tour are similar to myself, and the tour’s atmosphere also fits my personality. I believe in the LXM Pro tour because it allows the player to pursue a career in the sport of lacrosse.
You’ve mentioned traveling to new places as something that is important to you before. Where have you been over the past couple of months? And where are you guys planning on heading?
R - Over the past few months we have been to Australia and Las Vegas; those being the most eye catching, but also Philly and Baltimore. We will also be heading down to Alabama, Texas and Arizona thanks to the LXM guys.
S - We both just got back from California in addition to Vegas and Australia. Those were great trips and we had a great time while teaching the game of lacrosse. We are working on getting to Europe and possibly Thailand.
For more on the Brattons in Australia, check out this sick video from LaxRatz.com!
Tell us a little more about your recent trip to Australia!!! What did you notice about the style of play Down Under? Is this a trip you’d recommend to others? Why or why not?
R - I would say their style of play is more of a tougher, canadian style and yes, I highly recommend this trip to US lacrosse players.
S - Australia was a great trip. The game is definitely physical down there. I was excited to see the level of play was so high Down Under and the girls’ games were also played at a high level, which was nice to see. I would recommend that any person who wants to travel and play, or teach, the sport to head to Australia! The experience is awesome, as are the people and the sights.
Do you guys have any thoughts on box lacrosse? Any interest in playing? Do you think a league like the NALL could be a good place to learn the game?
R - I have thought a little about playing box, and I think it would be a great way to better my stick skills, etc. Also it would be cool to learn a different aspect of the game of lacrosse.
S - I have thought about the NLL, it would be fun to try! And the NALL would be fun as a stepping stone to the NLL, definitely.
The plan seems to be to move to the Left Coast in the near future. How do you plan on getting involved with the Grow The Game movement in California?
S - We are working on a High School coaching job as well as coaching multiple travel teams on the West Cost!
Does real growth come from clinics and elite teams? Or does it come from local programs? Or a mix of the two? And how would your perspective on the prior questions affect any employment/coaching decisions you might make in the future?
R - Well, clinics can grow the game in that you can bring together the kids that play in the area and bring in some great talent for them to learn from. I would say Elite teams help them maintain their skills and playing year round can really be a big boost. I think I would try to do both coaching elite teams and clinics.
S - Real growth comes from being able to play all year around. So to answer your question a mix of both is needed. Only the really talented players can play solely in the spring. If a player wants to excel at this sport, it has to be available year around.
Where do you think the sport of lacrosse is heading? Is there a right direction for the sport? Things to avoid?
R - I think the sport of lacrosse is heading in the right direction, but I feel like it should be more united and not just guys doing one thing here and some guys doing the same thing elsewhere. Hint hint LXM and MLL!!!
S - Lacrosse is possibly headed to a lot more D1 Universities and Colleges with programs. I would say we need to avoid slowing the game down; fans don’t like it. Let the athletes be athletes!