For our latest installment of the Fireside Chat Interview Series, we got the chance to speak with Samir Chaudry of The Lacrosse Network. TLN has been taking YouTube, and the lacrosse world at large, by storm, and we’re excited to share the beginnings of the Network’s story with you!
How did TLN come into being? It seems like a pretty major first step to create an entire channel on YouTube JUST for lacrosse… so is it go big or go home with TLN?
I’m from Los Angeles and I grew up studying film, and I was fascinated with making movies with my friends. We used to shoot movies at my house on the weekends with all of our friends getting involved, and my brother and I would spend hours editing them. The crazy thing was the movies were really just for us to see but we would still spend the majority of our time editing. I ended up going to UC Santa Cruz and studied Film and Digital Media there, along with playing MCLA Lacrosse.
During fall ball of my freshman year, two 8th graders approached our team about starting a high school lacrosse team at their school, which didn’t really have any sports. Along with a few other teammates, I decided to help out, not realizing the school barely had enough grass for all of us to be on it at once! Long story short, I remained the varsity head coach at the school for 4 years, and after going 0-14 our first year we went 15-4 my senior year and ended up winning our league championship.
After the season, one of the parents on the team approached me about an opportunity to work with YouTube. As a technical account manager at Google, and a very big part of the YouTube sports department, he began to really push me to consider creating a channel dedicated exclusively to the sport of lacrosse.
Finally, after we pitched our concept to the sports team, we were given the huge opportunity to create a online network dedicated solely to Lacrosse. Is it go big or go home with TLN? Absolutely, it’s go big, and I strongly believe we can create a hub for the best media in the sport. There is never enough lax on TV, and to be honest, the best way to get better at the game, or even just give the game exposure is to showcase it visually. This is a dream of mine and I don’t plan on stopping until it is a reality.
How did you get involved in lacrosse? What’s the rest of your lax story?
I started playing lax when I was in 9th grade at Harvard Westlake school in Los Angeles, CA. I played my first year of football that year as well, and was not very good but I really loved the intensity of the sport and the contact. Lacrosse was a club sport at my school and there were some kids trying to make it a varsity sport. I always enjoy being a part of growth and it seemed like this could be a cool sport to grow at our school so I decided to play. The rest is history…
The recent LXM event broadcast on TLN went over really well. Were there any surprises? How was this event different from past broadcasts?
The LXM Pro tour has some of the most polarizing figures in the sport as well as all of the players that I looked up to while I was playing… most specifically, Mikey Powell and Kyle Harrison. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched their highlight tapes or old VHS cassettes of them playing.
I wanted to be able to showcase those players in a special way, and while we are still working on really getting the broadcasts to look good, we need everyone’s help. The more people that tune in, the more opportunity we get to make the coverage better.
What can we expect to see from TLN moving forward?
A lot of content outside of just broadcasts. With our newest team member, Colin Rosenblum, we have a one of the best and most creative talents in the lacrosse media realm. I have a lot of confidence in our team here at TLN already, and adding Colin has been great for our creative chemistry. We have some ideas brewing, but when it comes to more details, you’ll just have to wait and see…
What need does TLN fill for the lacrosse world? How can TLN help to Grow The Game and make a name for itself?
I think most importantly, we need to adjust and develop the brand identity that the sport has. I think it’s such an amazing sport, and an unbelievable community, but we have a bad rap in mass media. People associate lacrosse with the instances at Duke and Virginia, and there is just so much negativity around the sport.
At TLN we are looking to showcase the sport in a new way, both by exposing the athletes and players, as well as telling the stories within the sport. Honestly, the community is my favorite part: at the last LXM Event I had my stick and there was a little kid doing some stick tricks on the field. I went out there and held up my stick and he threw me a pass. As we were passing back and forth, I realize how amazing it is that there is an unspoken language that we all speak.
Everyone who plays, plays for the love of the game and at TLN we want to showcase and share that passion. There is a need for more positive media and TLN is looking to fill that need.
Does the West Coast need its own coverage? Is the scene out there THAT different?
I think the scene out West is different, but to be honest I haven’t spent all that much time back East. One of my favorite coaches I ever had was Kyle Benton from St. Lawrence University; we got along amazingly well and are still very close. He coached at UC Santa Cruz and I know he loved it.
I think it’s been such a prevalent sport out East for so long that it is bound to have more tradition and more talent there. In order for the sport to grow, the game has to grow out West in a big way, and my hope is that we can help make that happen.
Where do you see lacrosse heading in the 5 years? 10 years? 25 years?
Dream big, The Olympics!
Is this your full-time gig? How else are you involved with lacrosse right now?
I am in the business of ideas, and ideas tend to be a full time gig!
Thanks to Samir for stopping by and filling us in a little more! The Lacrosse Network is doing big things, and you should definitely check them out if you haven’t already!