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Fireside Chat With Chazz Woodson: Respect the Game!

11 - Published April 13, 2011 by in Grow The Game, Interviews

Editor’s Note: Muamer Razic sat down with lacrosse star Chazz Woodson to get the full scoop on what Chazz has been up to.  Muamer asks the questions and Chazz drops the knowledge.  Another great interview in our Fireside Chat Series of Interviews!

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What has your lacrosse experience been like so far?

My lacrosse experience has been a blessing to say the least.  The fact that LaxAllStars is interviewing me speaks volumes.  I’ve been able to travel the nation and the world.  And I’ve been blessed enough to play at the highest levels, against the best players in the world and, for the last 4 years, pay my bills doing so.  Doesn’t get much better than that.

I saw you played for Team Thailand, how did you come across that opportunity instead of playing for Team USA?

That was an awesome experience.  It wasn’t so much “instead” of playing for Team USA.  I tried out for the US Team in 2009, and unfortunately did not make the squad.  God willing, I’ll still be healthy enough and in good enough shape to try out again in 2013.  It would be awesome to have the opportunity to compete in the World Games for Team USA, particularly as we defend the world championship on our home turf in Denver.  Wearing the USA on my chest is still on my to-do list.

As for Team Thailand, the opportunity actually came out of the blue.  It was a Thursday night, and I was packing to head to Providence, and I got a text from Jon Christmas asking if I wanted to go to Thailand. So I gathered a couple more details when I returned on Sunday.  And about a week later, I was in Thailand.  I will have the opportunity to work with the TLA this spring/summer again.  Another blessing via the game of lacrosse.

Other than lacrosse, are there any other sports that you love to play?

I miss playing football.  I played in high school, and didn’t enjoy it too much until my senior year.  I thought about playing at Brown but it never materialized.  Funny thing is football practice pretty much sucks.  But there’s NOTHING like game days.  Other than that, I still love playing basketball.  I used to play every day, and over the last couple years, I’ve barely played at all.  So, I’ve been trying to play a lot more recently.  I feel like I’ve become that guy that plays really hard, but isn’t very good.  I was never an All-American player, but I could play the game.  And I don’t like losing.  So every time I don’t play well, or my team loses, I feel like I need to get my act together.

Are you going to continue playing for the LXM Pro Tour? What’s that experience been like?

So far, I’ve only competed in the Jacksonville event, which was nothing like the prior events or the events that are to come, from what I understand.  It was a good time though.  I’m definitely going to continue to play throughout the year.  It works a lot better with my schedule than the MLL, and still allows me to play the game with and against some of the best around.  Hopefully next year, MLL will let up a little and allow guys to compete in both MLL and LXM, but that’s a whole different ball of wax.

When was the first time you picked up a lacrosse stick?

First time I picked up a stick I could barely walk.  But I started playing organized lacrosse in 4th grade which is when the Tidewater Youth Lacrosse League (as it was called then) began.

How did you get introduced to the game?

I was introduced to the game by my father, who played a year at Middlebury.  He coached lacrosse for several years in VA, and now coaches in Houston, TX.

Why did you choose to go to Brown University?

Chazz Woodson Brown Lacrosse

Chazz Woodson when he was playing lax at Brown.

I chose Brown University for a handful of reasons actually.  They were the very first school to call me, which made me feel that I was pretty high on their list.  Academically, the “non-curriculum” curriculum was a big draw for me.  And it was very difficult to turn down the opportunity to for an Ivy League education.  I also was going to be able to play a friend of mine, Britton Derkac, who I’d known and played with from about age 10 on.  Interestingly enough, I also got to play with him when I was with the Boston Cannons.

What’s one thing you want every laxer to know?

Haha, there’s plenty I want them to know.  I guess, when it comes to me, I want them to know that I was raised to respect the game; to play it the right way.  Although, I’ve had my moments where I’ve gotten a little heated or carried away (as I think most competitive athletes have), I’m not a trash talker, I don’t think I’m bigger than the game, I don’t look down on or talk down to other players, etc.  I learn from others, that have come before me, and even those that have come after me.  Lacrosse will open doors and it will treat you right, if you treat it right.

How are you helping to “Grow the Game”?

Good question!  I’m always being approached about opportunities.  One, in particular, has come up recently that could be a game changer for lacrosse in inner city areas (which will ultimately affect all of lacrosse) throughout the country, starting right here in Miami, FL.  Unfortunately that’s all I can say at this point.  If it happens, I’ll be sure to be in touch with you all.  Outside of that, I’m kind of just working opportunity by opportunity.  If something pops up that I can help out with, I’m on it.  But I’m very picky about attaching my name to things, because too many times these “ventures,” despite the fronts they put on, are less about growing the game, and more about making money.  I have no problem with making money, particularly at the upper levels of lacrosse.  But I think truly growing the game starts at the ground level and it often suffers as a result of the paper chase.

Kyle Harrison and I are also working on another project that is starting to take off.  Again, unfortunately I cannot say too much about it right now, but I CAN say that we are moving along at a decent pace right now, and hopefully there will be some real announcements made this summer.  Stay tuned!

What influenced you to work to become the athlete you are today?

Numerous people – parents, coaches, players – have influenced me.  But I’m also a born athlete.  There was very little that needed to be said for me to want to become the athlete I am, because I always wanted to be the best at what I was doing.  I think that’s how all real athletes are.  Now, there were and still are times that I need a kick in the butt.  Working out isn’t always fun.  Taking shots, and working on dodges isn’t always fun.  But you have to do it.  So sometimes that motivation comes from listening to coaches, or watching other athletes.

I’m also not looking forward to the time when I’m not physically capable of competing.  I still want to be able to compete as hard as I can, for as long as I can, whether it’s LXM, MLL, pickup basketball, or anything else.  And to do so, I still have to work.  Quick story – a former athlete of mine is now a linebacker at the University of Florida.  Last spring, I would join him for some of his workouts.  I beat him, by a step or so, in the 40.  One of the first things to come out of his mouth when I saw him this year over spring break is that he’s going to beat me now.  That type of thing keeps me motivated.  You’re talking about a 19 year old kid, but also a top notch athlete (regardless of age).  Doesn’t matter to me whether he’s 19 or 39.  I don’t like losing.

How is it coaching lacrosse down in Florida?

Coaching in Florida is interesting to say the least.  There are some very good players down here, but the level of play, over all, is comparatively low.  But that’s part of the challenge.  I love trying to develop players.  I love watching them get better, and watching their confidence grow.  I’ve been offered two head coaching positions, so far, and turned them both down for 2 reasons.  1, so that I could continue to be a part of turning a program around.  And 2, so that I could just focus on coaching, and making players better.  It’s fun!  The only other bad part about Florida lacrosse is that there are not nearly enough qualified officials.  I shall say no more.

You influence a lot of people, looking at the quotes from fans on your website, how does that make you feel?

That’s the best part about being me.  We all have the opportunity every single day to influence somebody.  But because of lacrosse, and because I’m “Chazz Woodson” I get the opportunity to influence numerous people.  Most of them I’ve never met, and probably never will.  But to get emails, and Facebook messages, that tell me that I’ve inspired people … from 6 year old kids, to men and women my parents’ age, it means a great deal to me.  I thank God every day that I’m able to inspire so many people – whether on the field, or through something I say or do – and I pray that He continues to work through me to do so.

You seem to be pretty down to earth, how do you keep the success from getting to you too much?

It’s very easy.  I was raised that way.  And I have plenty of friends and family to keep me in check.  Plus success is all relative.  Have I been successful?  Sure I have.  But I have a lot more, still, to offer this game, and the world.  And what have I done in this game or in any other field that should really blow my head up?  In my opinion, nothing.  Few people have accomplished anything in this game that has set the lacrosse world on fire or completely changed it.  And to my knowledge, every one of them has respected the game – played it, and lived it in humble manner.

What values do you instill in your players as a coach?

Hard work.  Cliché I know.  But that’s it.  I want my guys to do 4 things.  1 and 2 – Love/enjoy the game, and become students of the game.  3 and 4 – Develop a desire to get better, and then work to do so.  No matter what it is that you’re doing, if you get to a point where you don’t care to get better at it, it’s time to stop doing it.  And if you aren’t enjoying it, you shouldn’t be doing it.

What do you think it is about Lacrosse that has made it grow so rapidly?

It’s a fun sport.  I don’t know anybody who has watched a game, especially in person, and hasn’t enjoyed it.  TV exposure has been great for the game.  And I think the expansion of camps and clinics to previously untapped areas is great.  I know that may sort of contradict my earlier money making statements.  But the fact that kids are getting exposed to very good coaches, etc. in areas that have never had that before definitely helps.

Who are you pulling for to win a NCAA Championship in 2011?

I’m pulling for UVa, mostly because I have developed a relationship with a handful of guys on the team that have worked my camp the last few years.  And because I’d love to see them rebound from everything that happened last year.  Last but not least Dom Starsia is a Brown grad.  Gotta show my love!  … If my Bears can sneak in though, of course I’m pulling for them.  And the same with Ohio State, since my brother is a senior there.

What college player do you think has a lot of potential and that you really enjoy watching?

Man, there are a bunch.  I love Shamel’s game.  I love Bitter’s name.  But, my favorite player right now is actually Steele.  Another guy that’s worked my camp, but also he’s just been SO clutch for UVa.

You obviously train a lot, what do your workouts consist of?

My workouts constantly change, based on what I’m doing outside of training, and what I’m training for.  Last year I spent a lot of time working on my speed and agility, and then just getting stronger.  Not so much bigger.  I pulled both of my hamstrings last year (one in late May, the other in October).  So I wasn’t doing a whole lot for a while.  I’ve been getting into a lot more body weight exercises lately.  And I’d like to get back to my speed training (using the high speed treadmills) soon.  I still like to get my box jump on, and my squats and cleans.  Lots of pushups too!  I’m beyond the point of needing to increase when it comes to size.  Now my focus is on maintaining (speed and strength), and staying healthy.  Also going to get back into yoga or pilates.  It’s amazing how much that does for the body.

How would you describe your sports mentality?

Focus.  Work.  Don’t get outworked.  Have fun, above all else.  Let the rest take care of itself.  Reading a GREAT book right now, called Mind Gym, An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence by Gary Mack.  I think it’s a must read for all athletes.

Who was your idol growing up?

I’m guessing you mean athletically.  So I’ll go with Michael Jordan.  I’m an 80’s baby.  There was no other athlete superior to His Airness.  But there were plenty of others that inspired me, whether that was my father, or other athletes that he coached, that I watched.  Drew McKnight was the best lacrosse player I’d ever seen in person.

How did you come up with Humble Swagger?

Humble Swagger started out as a concept that I came up with when Kyle and I were working on ideas for some collaborative projects.  Since we’re both crazy busy and on opposite sides of the country, the general projects we were working on kind of got put on the back burner.  But I still had this concept that I thought was too good to just let go to waste.  So I pulled it back out, tweaked some things and here we are.  It’s important to know, though, that it’s a full concept.  Right now, I’m doing some shirts, etc, but it’s not intended to be a clothing company.  That’s simply the first part of a whole concept.  It’s an idea that embodies what I’m about.

How does It feel to be a NB athlete? Brine?

I’m actually no longer under contract with either, but that was pretty cool.  Brine was awesome, because it kind of capitalized on the little bit of hype I had when I got traded to the Riptide.  On top of that, for the most part, I’d always used Brine equipment so I was endorsing a product that I truly liked and believed in.  The New Balance deal was just as timely.  And it was pretty cool to be the first and only NB lacrosse athlete.  They treated me well, and I enjoyed being a part of it.

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