Editor’s Note: Welcome Patrick Crann to LaxAllStars.com! Patrick runs Celtic Lacrosse (facebook page) in New Jersey (and now Europe!) and has been involved in the game for YEARS! Lately, Patrick has been helping out in Poland, trying to Grow The Game of lacrosse, which is really exciting. Check out Patrick’s write up on his experiences so far (below), as well as some great photos and video!
I am Irish at heart. I made my last attempt at making the Irish National team two years ago and tore my Achilles tendon at the tryout. I have a business named after the Celts of Ireland’s history. However, I have also found a love for my wife’s home country of Poland. I have become immersed in the Polish culture after being there many times to visit my Mother and Father in law. I have found a spot in my heart for the great country of Poland and This past August, 2011, I embarked on another trip to Poland with my wife, Hana, who is from, Poland originally.
Hana’s family’s home is in a beautiful region, close to Krakow. We have traveled to Poland a bunch of times. When we first went years ago there was a very minimal amount of Polish lacrosse players. I think there were a few in Poland in the Warsaw area up north. I was interested that people were trying to build lacrosse teams in Poland and since I traveled there with my wife frequently, I was excited about the fact that I would help to Grow the Game in Poland.
I was able to contact one person in the Krakow area. His name was Piotr Kuzniar. He is the head of Krakow Dragons. He was our only contact in the south of Poland. Then, two years ago I did the first ever clinic in Krakow at Blonia field and about 6 guys showed up with one girl player. Since then (over the last two years) Polish lacrosse has seemed to explode! Poland was represented in the last world games and teams have sprouted up in Krakow, Warsaw, Wroclaw, and Poznan. Not bad for two years growth!
I have been in contact via face book and over the phone to track the progress of the Polish players from time to time.
This summer, I flew to Poland again to meet my family (who were already over there ahead of me) and made another contact from the Krakow team who started up a program in Oswiecim (commonly known as Auschwitz). The contact was Michal Bucki, and Michal has been part of the Krakow team and decided to build his own team, in his home town of Oswiecim. The first clinic or practice session was on August 6th on a Saturday morning – (it was uncharacteristically hot like back home in NJ) in the center of Krakow. At the base of historic Wawel castle – what an incredible place to play lacrosse!
I was coaching lacrosse the sport I love, in the center of one of the oldest cities in Europe with and amazing view of the historic river Wisla and the Wawel castle what more could I ask for at the time? The boys from Krakow were there minus a few guys, and the new team from Oswiecim was represented as well and they had about 15 guys. It was great, but the time went fast. I worked between the more experienced group of Krakow players and the beginners from Oswiecim. I was then asked to come to Oswiecim the following weekend.
I actually did an interview for the Dziennik Polski newspaper with Mateusz Paliwoda, as well and my wife and I went to Oswiecim and sat down with from the paper. We had a great chat at a local coffee bar and he was truly interested in this foreign game that I had come to teach and coach. I actually walked through the streets of Oswiecim with my stick and gloves because the writer wanted to see what kind of equipment was used to play lacrosse. The people of Oswiecim looked at me like I was from another planet. It was funny. He asked many
questions about America and the differences and similarities that the two countries had. We talked for about two hours and he suggested that his Friend Kamil Szyjka, who works for Fakty, which does news stories in Poland as is on national TV, should come as well (video below!).
I was fired up for that but wasn’t sure they would come.
On August 15th, the following Saturday, the boys from Oswiecim were there ready to go and so were the cameras, a local internet sports site was there, Fakty TV, and Dziennik Polski. It was the first training clinic by an American coach in Oswiecim. The guys did it up right and they even had a tent like we do in tournament time over the summer. They were cooking Kielbasa on the grill and some steaks. They had Polish Pivo (beer), Tyske, (my favorite Polish beer) at the end of the training session.
I saw the guys get better and better pretty fast during the training session. We had athletes that played Hockey and Oswiecim’s hockey team is one of the best in Poland. We had soccer players and even a basketball player. They all had whatever equipment they could muster up. It was a great time; some understood my direction in English and Michal Bucki translated the rest so it worked out well. They were very respectful of my wife and I. It was a great day for lacrosse in Poland.
I think they are going to be good fast because they have heart and desire. I even spoke to them about the proper equipment because one of the guys lost a tooth during the scrimmage time and he laughed it off like it was no big deal. I need to send them mouth pieces!
We did one last session on a Wed night the following week and it was a great success as well they were preparing to play box lacrosse in Prague, that Saturday. I was amazed at how hardworking these beginners were. They never complained about the training like our American kids can be guilty of. They were just happy to play a sport foreign to them but very fun, full of hand-eye skills, and very physical, and they seemed to love it all.
I was asked by Kamil Szyjka, during my interview, “Will you come back and help Oswiecim again?”
I answered; “Absolutely, I hope I can make many more trips back to work with them and see this beautiful country with my wife and son.”
Check out Patrick’s Video Interview below! For more photos, head to Facebook! So cool that he’s doing this stuff in Poland! Guys like this will help make lacrosse a big-time sport internationally. Growing The Game for no other reason than he loves it. Well, we love that!
A bit of Background on Patrick Crann, has been playing and coaching lacrosse for over 25 years. He played Div 1 and 3 lacrosse at Loyola, Syracuse and Washington College – and he was in the hunt for a national championship ring at each institution and lost in two finals! Loyola, then SU, and semis and quarters at WAC – Patrick have a training business called Celtic Lacrosse in NJ, which he named after his love of his Irish Heritage.
He works with kids from all over northern NJ and played his HS lacrosse at Columbia HS in Maplewood NJ, which is the oldest lacrosse club in NJ history, with a great number of accomplished players that went on to play lacrosse at some of the best programs in the country.
Patrick currently coaches at Morris Catholic HS and has coached at some of New Jersey’s finest programs, winning two State championships at the Delbarton School in 1999 and 2000. He has also coached at Summit in 2004 and Seton Hall Prep in 2002 as well as Livingston HS in 2008, 2009, and 2010.