Editor’s Note: Muamer Razic interviews Josh “Chewy” Acut and Ismael Sanchez in the newest installment of our Fire Side Chat Series. Josh and Ismael are two of the major driving forces behind the Flour Bluff Lacrosse Club in Corpus Christi, TX. Muamer is starting the Spartans Lacrosse Team at his high school in Bowling Green, KY. These guys are both building up new teams in some of the frontiers of American lacrosse. Let the conversation begin!
What made you decide to start FB LAX?
Chewy: I was a freshman in college, and some guys from Houston introduced me to the game. Then, 10 years later I saw some highlights on ESPN and decided to start a club. I called up some buddies of mine, and bought 6 sticks so I could the get kids interested. It blew up from there, I saw all the kids come out and it made me want to make it more formal.
Ismael: Well all credit is due to Chewy. Josh had the idea to “try something new” and he got me out there to play, and I ended up quitting dodge ball because I loved it. I had much love for the sport, and when I tried it I decided to actually grow it with him. I jumped in to play and loved it. Prideful. Making history.
What was your inspiration?
Chewy: I saw some Kyle Harrison highlights on TV and went on YouTube to find some more clips of him and those were probably my biggest motivations.
Ismael: Josh was really mine; when I went and played I just saw what these guys were putting out and how the game really could be. I had so much fun and it really inspired me. It completely blew my mind. Getting out there with the guys learning how to play and it was so captivating for me.
Can you give us your lax background?
Chewy: I’ve never played before, but then when I got interested in the game I started to learn how to play. If it would have been around back then I would have really gone all out.
Ismael: Went one time and got hooked If it would have been here when I was growing up then I would have played my entire life.
What has been the biggest obstacle in this journey of yours and how have you overcome it?
Chewy: Man, keeping the kids motivated is tough and it’s probably been the hardest thing to do. There aren’t a lot of programs here so they don’t see competition and they don’t see “the light at the end of the tunnel” I know it seems kind of weird, but I bribe them haha, I have small giveaways to keep them excited.
Ismael: I would have to say motivation as well. We give them so much and all we ask of them is to play the game. I don’t think they’ve 100% fallen in love with it. Some of them have and some haven’t. I think once they start coming together as a team it’ll go great. I think once they play their first game the motivation will be there for them.
How are you growing your fan-base?
Chewy: I don’t think we have a fan-base other than family members, wives and girlfriends. We’ve tried get people to come out and show support but it’s tough. We get a lot on Facebook and Twitter. There’s some people here that say we’re doing a great job but they have yet to come out. We’re on TV and radio and you’d think people would come out and watch, but nothing.
Ismael: We just use Facebook, Twitter, Local News Channels, and word of mouth. We just try to spread the word as much as we can. Just using all of the resources that are available to us.
What are 3 goals for your lax club? What are you hoping to achieve?
Chewy: My top 3 goals are for the club to become a school based team within the next 5 years, for the men’s team to have a feeder program with the local university, and I want the GTL tour to take off and to get really publicized.
Ismael:Mine would have to be that the club grows and flourishes and that is is sustainable on its own, I would really like our club to be more community based. I do a lot of volunteer work so I would love if we could give back to the community as well. We’re asking them to support us so we should support them. Then it would have to be that there is a means to an end, that we do get the schools to back us, I’d live to see lacrosse throught schools here in Texas. I really want this to be influential.
How is lacrosse in Texas? How is it different, and how has it grown?
Chewy: It’s weird. The people are either willing to teach and grow the game, or they just want to be the only laxer in Texas, I know I’ve met some people that don’t want to grow the game because they wanna be the only teams here.. Lacrosse in Texas is the red headed stepchild of all sports. The main sports here are Football, Basketball, and even Swimming?!?! There is not much support.
Ismael: People here don’t know what it is. FYI, Texas is the biggest football state in the US. We lost a lot of our players to football. Everyone needs a run through about what it is. It’s not very existent. It’s non-existent unless you’re looking for it. You have some clubs but people don’t know that they are around.
How’s your schedule looking for 2011?
Chewy: It’s crazy! The high-school team is playing every week, and the men’s team is playing 1 game every 2 weeks. Between my family, work, and lacrosse, my life is so busy.
Ismael: I’m always busy between work and lacrosse. It takes a lot. The games for the HS are going to be great, the men’s league is gonna add a little stress. I do a lot of events here in TX so I am also very busy. Very Busy!!! a lot of sports activities along with the regular things of life. I actually use a calender now.
Can you describe your coaching style?
Chewy: I am very hands-on. I’ll get in there and show the kids what to do. I can’t just tell them, I like to show them. I even get into the passing, cradling, and shooting drills with them.
Ismael: Not everyone starts out as a superstar so I get really excited when I see new things. I read the US lax mags and show it to the kids. The us lacrosse mobile app? I’m excited for that. When I see new stuff I get excited and want to show it to the guys. Safety is very important to me. Fundamentals are important.
Anything you’d like to tell the LAS readers?
Chewy: Yeah, I want them to show support to you, or anyone trying to Grow the Game. Everyone can help out in someway, wether it be with advice, scrimmages or whatever, I’m sure if everyone who reads this article helps you out, it will do a lot of good. LAS was set up for people to voice their opinion and spread some love of the sport of lacrosse. You’re using it to really Grow the Game and LAS is letting you spread your story because you are truly doing what their website it about. You’re not trying to sell anything; you are truly trying to Grow the Game from the ground up.
Ismael: We are really trying to get the state up to speed with lacrosse. I want everyone to realize that lacrosse is growing and that we have put our stamp here.
How committed are your players?
Chewy: It’s definitely a 50-50 split. 50% are really committed, and the others are thinking it’s going to be like a Summer league.
Ismael: Our HS team is committed, mens league; some are committed. Other guys are committed when they have time. We don’t get mad because school is important. We’re not gonna pull them away from their studies. Most of our guys are committed. It’s about a 50-50 split with committed players and busy players.
Describe a day of practice/conditioning for FB LAX.
Chewy: Well they get to the field, get their gear on, do some chill cradling drills, do some passing drills, man down drills (a lot), and then scrimmage. We drill for about 2 hours and I’d say it goes pretty well.
Ismael: We start out stretching (very important), take them on some runs (cradling runs), run some drills (passing, man balls, ground balls) if we have new guys then we help them out as well, take them to the wall and teach them and give them the run down. Towards the end of practice we get in actual scrimmages, practices end whenever it gets tough to see the ball. Then we all get in a huddle and talk about how the practice went, what we did good, what we need to improve. Encouragement time.
Which version of GTL do you prefer? Gym-Tan-Laundry, or Grow-Texas-Lacrosse?
Chewy: GROW TEXAS LACROSSE! We have a purpose. Our goal is to create high-school programs. You may want to look like the situation, but our situation is for real! We are working on expanding the game in more of Texas.
Ismael: GROW TEXAS LACROSSE! I don’t tan, go to the gym, or tan. And all I do Is lax for that! Lacrosse is my workout and tan!