Last weekend I was invited out to the Ohio Machine training camp held at St. Charles High School in Columbus, OH. I collected quite a bit of photo and video content that will be coming out over the next few weeks.
In the meantime, today, I’d like to share a few of my key takeaways from my experience spending time with John Algie, Owner and General Manager of the Machine, as well as a variety of players and coaches on the team.
- Kyle Harrison is a true leader
- EVERYONE is excited to welcome Peter Baum’s talents to the midfield
- Ohio is no longer an expansion team
Kyle the Leader
Kyle spent 5 years in the MLL before taking the jump off to the LXM PRO Tour. Before entering the MLL, he was a captain at Johns Hopkins where he won the 2005 National Championship and the Tewaaraton Trophy.
Harrison went on to lead Team STX and his LXM PRO squads for the past 3 seasons, and he’s also been a member of Team USA, competing in 2006 and again in 2014.
Now 31 years old, Harrison is a the veteran any team would fight to get their hands on. Kyle lives his life like a professional athlete, and he doesn’t cut corners when it comes to training and preparing for the upcoming season.
When I arrived at the Machine’s training camp, one thing I didn’t expect to see right away was Kyle in the middle of the circle leading calisthenics with fellow teammate Greg Bice. Bice has been a leader and captain for the Machine the past two seasons. But Kyle? He just got there!
Apparently it took Kyle little to no time at all to establish himself as someone to look up to in the locker room and on the field. He had no problem jumping in the ring and leading the Machine in everything from stretching to encouraging and reinforcing the efforts his team puts forth on the field. It was awesome to see!
Where Baum Belongs
As most know, Peter Baum was selected #1 in the 2013 MLL Collegiate Draft by the Machine. He took the 2013 season off from the MLL, but still competed for Team STX on the LXM PRO Tour as an ADRLN sponsored athlete.
I’ve never dug deep for all of the reasons why Peter made such a decision, because I don’t really care. Baum was very active in growing the game while on the LXM tour, and he was not only electrifying on the field, he was a great ambassador for the sport off it too. After becoming the first ever Tewaaraton winner from the West Coast, Peter inherited the responsibility of being the poster child for successful lacrosse players from the West, and he’s taken on that role in stride!
Peter knows it’s not just the kids from Portland looking up to him, either. Every young lacrosse player West of the Mississippi has heard of the waves Baum has made, and they look at Peter as the pioneer who is making way for lacrosse players in the West to put themselves on the map just like he did.
When I asked players on the team who the most surprising player as camp was so far, many of them said Baum. It wasn’t because they hadn’t heard of him or didn’t think he was worth the #1 pick. No, it was because Peter’s humbleness, explosiveness, and high energy.
I doubt that any of the team expected Peter to completely mail it in, but realistically after his Tewaaraton Trophy, being the #1 overall pick, and having a successful season with Team STX, a guy like Baum could give 50% and he would likely still find a roster spot. Rather, Peter used camp as an opportunity to get to know his teammates and to push the team to be the best they could be.
Through his hard work on the practice field, Peter not only quickly earned the respect as a stand out athlete, but he also earned the reputation of being a “rookie” with “veteran” characteristics. The overall impression is that Peter is an unbelievable athlete, and the Machine expect Team STX stars Baum and Harrison to really bring the spark that the midfield line desperately needs.
The Time Is Now
It seems that everyone has been thinking the same thing, but many have been afraid to say it. Well, GM John Algie wasn’t afraid to break the ice to me,
The Ohio Machine are no longer an expansion team.
After going 2-12 twice in the team’s only two seasons, the Ohio Machine is ready to create a new reputation for itself.
Located in the sporting hot bed of Columbus, Ohio, the Machine have their work cut out for them when it comes to filling seats and collecting wins. The city of Columbus demands success from their sporting organizations as they have become accustom to The Ohio State University and their commitment to excellence. That said, bringing another pro team to Ohio can essentially be sink or swim.
The Columbus Destroyers were run out of town the season they won the AFL Championship, and the NLL’s Landsharks lasted only a couple seasons. Even though sports run Columbus, it has been proven that success on the field may not directly correlate with success in the community. Ohioans hate to see teams lose, and sometimes they just hate a team for no reason.
In 2012 and 2013 the Machine went 2-12. Previously, the Machine went after pro names that could help fill seats as well as former Buckeyes to help drive local engagement. Now, the team has moved Anthony Kelly, Chazz Woodson and Kyle Hartzell to other organizations in an attempt to get away from being the expansion team that was bought, to being a franchise that is built.
Right now, for the Machine, it’s not about being popular. It’s about winning. The fame will come with the victories.
This offseason was driven by the LXM PRO and MLL merger from which the Machine fought hard to secure middies Kyle Harrison and Peter Baum as well as a dynamic crease attackman in Erik Krum. With Krum joining Logan Schuss, Jim Connolly, Marcus Holman and Steele Stanwick, it looks like Ohio will have one of the youngest and most electrifying attack groups in the league.
A youthful attack, bolstered midfield, new coach and veteran defense are exactly what the Machine need to take the leap from being another expansion team handing out wins to every team in the league to being the team circled on everyone’s calendar this season. We’ll find out when the Machine come out firing against the Hounds in Charlotte on April 26th.
Once the all Major League Lacrosse teams release their rosters by next Monday, we’ll have another update on the league and the players competing on opening weekend.