Editor’s note: Welcome Jerry Ragonese of Pro Athletics and RIT fame to LAS! He is now Jerry Ragonese of Rochester Rattlers fame! Jerry details his 2 week journey onto an MLL 25-man Protected Roster. An intriguing inside look at the MLL!
Ahoy LAS and friends. Thanks for clicking over here. This is my first “blog” so please bear with me on this.
A few months ago I decided to give the MLL a go again, and after not being drafted after my senior season (2010), I was fortunate enough to be chosen (out of 40 guys who tried out) to be invited to training camp. And this is a look back into the past 2 weeks of training camp.
Thursday 4/27/11- I am home in NJ packing up my old man’s pick up truck to make the journey up to Rochester. Ironically, I’m moving back into my old off campus housing near my alma mater, RIT, with a few of the RIT lacrosse guys. Tornado warnings are in effect all over the area but I decided to take off anyways. My roll of the dice pays off and I some how make the drive up with minimal rain.
Once I get up I set up the “office”, where I get to do all the magical proofs for all my loyal customers for ProAthletics, (luckily for me I have a job where I can be just about anywhere and send my artwork back to the home base in California!). Otherwise, the MLL would not be possible for me this summer.
A few days of some hard work working with the like of the Scallywags Lacrosse club, Celtic Premier and a laundry list of others, and working with RIT men’s lax, helping with Face offs, and before it know it its April 30th. First day of training camp, but today is a special two fold. It’s also RIT vs NAZ day. One of RIT lacrosse’s favorite past times. I was woken up at 7am by many other alums to join in on the festivities. One of the activities before heading to the game is the popular Stump game. Where you flip a hammer in the air then try to strike your opponents nail into the stump.
After a few rounds of stump the alums and I headed over to the game where RIT won to stay undefeated. As soon as the game was over, I went and picked up Anthony Kelly and Greg Bice up at the airport, and we were off Payteck Park.
All the other guys rolled up at around 4:30, and we were let into the locker room, and after a quick introduction, we hit the field. We were a little light from the NLL guys still playing and a few guys being away for work reasons. Coach O’hara keeps practice moving with a lot of hidden conditioning and since we were light on guys it was not to easy, however it was a lot of fun. All the guys seemed pretty excited to get up and down again. First thing I noticed was everyone was really really good.
I caught myself on more than one occasion in awe of the level of play going on around me. Matt Striebel can flat out rip the ball, every pole was throwing checks harder than I have ever seen. They even sounded mean. We did a little full field scrimmaging at the end of practice and I was fortunate enough to sneak a few face offs past Kelly. He is absolutely huge and impossible to push off the ball. After about 30 mins we wrapped up practice and went our separate ways.
Sunday morning we were going back at it at 9am. We got all of our physicals done. While we were waiting, most of the guys were goofing around. After physicals we were told suit up and we went out onto the turf. Beautiful Sunny Sunday in Rochester, which is a rarity, as anyone who has been to Rochester will tell you. A nearly identical practice to the days prior with lots of running and transition stuff followed by some 6 on 6… where I found myself on the wrong end of a swim dodge on more than one occasion.
We then scrimmaged again where I once again found a way to sneak a few wins in at the x. Practice concluded and we one again went our separate ways after dropping a few guys off at the airport.
Monday rolls around and it is back to work. More and more teams ordering gear! It is almost getting hard to keep up but it’s the busy season and being busy is never a bad thing. The more sick gear for fellow laxers in the summer, the better. I am also fortunate enough to have access to the old RIT Power Den to get some lifts in during the week.
Fast forward to Friday and RIT is playing Ithaca in the first round of the Empire 8 tournament. RIT would go down 6-1 before ultimately coming back and winning, moving into the E8 finals Sunday. Saturday is day 1 of the second week of training camp. More guys are showing up this time around but we are also indoors on a beautiful sunny day due to the soccer team we share Payteck with. It’s roughly 1000 degrees inside, making the full field drills a little tough. We are also are light on guys again due to some flight issues. Anthony Kelly wasn’t in attendance due to flight trouble so I did decently at the X.
Sunday morning we were back outside for the last day of practice. All but a few guys were in attendance and we did more full field scrimmaging than anything. Practice wraps up and now it’s time for equipment to be given out. We were informed that not everyone would get gear and I assumed this would mean the first round of cuts. After I got out of the locker room I was told to go get my gear. It had appeared that I had made the cut. However we would still have to wait till Monday to see the 25 man protected roster…
There was little time or reason to celebrate, as I had still yet to make the protected roster. However Sunday at 12 was the empire 8 finals between RIT and Naz. Naz day part Deux.
I rolled up 10 mins late and it was already 8-3 RIT. It was all down hill for Nazareth from there on. Final score was 24-10 and 4x Empire 8 goalie of the week took it end to end and from what would have been a MLL 2 pointer stung a low to high on the run shot. I nearly passed out from the shear awesomeness of this act. RIT would be back to back Empire 8 champs and then receive #1 and home games for the NCAA’s in the north
Monday was an uneasy day. I had not heard anything all day, so work was the last thing on my mind but still had to get things done to keep my mind of everything. A few things kept me occupied, our new bag the Pro super duff finished its tweaks (photos to melt your face coming soon) and our new water proof jackets (photos tomorrow) finished. I don’t think there is anyone who gets more excited about product that they make in any industry than me.
I’m a child when it comes to this stuff. As soon as I see it I have to have one. I am sure you will feel the same way about these too.
During my mid day break where I peruse for what was new on LAS, and what pops up but the MLL rosters release on The Facebook of all places. I couldn’t click fast enough. All the way at the bottom was the Rattlers names, and by some act of divine intervention, I found my name on the list of protected players for the team. Never in a millions years would I think this would have been possible I still maintain that I got lucky!
Today. No days off, Art work for you guys, gym before RIT practice. Coach Coon 4x AA at Nazareth and NCAA champ suited up to let the team shoot on him for sprints, and it wasn’t pretty for the players, most amusing for me, as everyone knows Coon is a wall. The RIT guys are gearing up for their first d3 NCAA championship. It should be a great 10 days before M&T. Ill see you guys there.