Editor’s Note: Special thanks to our partners SISU Guard and the LaxFed for supporting us through another successful LaxCon! We teamed up with SISU for our LIVE from #LaxCon stream and LaxFed to bring you sights and sounds of the convention floor!
With the US Lacrosse Convention (aka #LaxCon) now in the rear view mirror, I finally have the time to breath and comprehend what it was that I just experienced. For anyone involved in lacrosse, LaxCon is something that you absolutely must take part in at some point. This was only my second one ever, but I have become immediately hooked.
It is the only thing to rival NCAA Championship Weekend for the sheer number of people you will run into in one place. It’s also tailored to have something there for everyone, be in a coach, player, company, fan, or official at any level of the game.
Do you want to see new gear? Companies love showing off their new stuff. Want to see new products? This is also the place for startups to try and make a splash. Want to meet those random internet people that only exist in social media? Oh, they will so be there.
Friendly Faces Everywhere
For me, my favorite thing about LaxCon is really getting to catch up with people that I almost never see in person. The irony is that I’m always on a mission to find someone or something, that I will never actually get to talk to everyone, and inevitably there are some that I only see in passing (sorry, Devitte).
This year’s LaxCon was at a whole new level with the added benefit of the Team USA indoor exhibition on Saturday night. That brought a flood of top level players into the area, when last year you only had a handful to represent US Lacrosse.
With so much going on, it would take more worlds than I’m capable of writing before the 2019 convention. So, instead, I’ll point to a few of my personal highlights:
While many booths are “the usual” things that don’t spark a ton of excitement, this convention is setup that someone could walk in knowing they have a new program starting in the spring, and walk out with orders for field equipment, uniforms, a website, management apps, and everything else they could dream of. So, let’s talk about the everything else.
This company was founded by recent Cuse FOGO grads Joe DeMarco and Ben Williams. They got tired of injuring each other with live rep after live rep in practice and in the offseason. So, they put their heads together to design a product that would simulate facing off against another head, with some actual motion to it rather than just a stationary stick.
Launched just a week ago, it will be interesting to see if the world of young FOGOs who are hungry for ways to improve on their own go after this new device.
The most tragic part of lacrosse is when a player gets hit with a ball at that fraction of a second when their heart is vulnerable and we lose a player right there on the field. It does not happen often, but it is heavy in people’s minds whenever a defender soaks a shot in the upper body. This group not only makes a chest protector for goalies, but are now developing a guard to wear under a shirt, and even have a helmet liner to help reduce head injury risk.
While these also require a ton of testing, it’s great to see a company putting research into better methods and materials focused solely on player safety.
I made a joke during our live broadcast that I had no idea you could fill so many booths with just tape and other things meant for improving grip. But, really companies are making some great products. Especially if you’re someone that likes to play without palms in your gloves, some tape with good feel and grip can be a big deal.
This area is all about personal preference, but this was one I saw that seemed different than others. It’s velvety, sticky, and pretty different.
This is an interesting semi-permanent rebounder that is made to mimic a hard wall. It’s built to hold up to the elements and stay outside, while also being small enough that you can move it around if needed. It’s an interesting new look at a somewhat ubiquitous training aid. Plus it’s curved. Why? Because science.
While Connor already gave a very thorough look at Team USA’s game, there were a few things I want to add in:
1: Dylan Donahue
Donahue is one of the guys with next to no box experience. What was impressive with his play is how comfortable he looked. Sure, he had a few goals with outside shots, but it says quite a bit that the coaches had a guy without major box experience running the point on man up. When he made his cuts, his stick was vertical, he was looking for contact and always knew where the defense was around him.
2: The box guys
Like Connor said, the regular box guys really showed up in force. Blaze, Marty, Hartzell, etc. who we know already know the game, really set themselves apart. One of my favorite plays was one where Marty Bowes slipped inside to the middle high and Blaze was low with the ball. Marty was open right away, but he cut straight down to the goal (ahem, FYI defense). Blaze was under pressure, but held off that extra second to turn a good shot into a great shot. Those small things are what we need to see more from USA going forward.
3: Stefan Schroder
He was the only goalie I hadn’t seen before, and I was honestly rather impressed. He moved well in the cage and reacted when he needed to. This game saw SO MANY dives, I felt nervous for every goalie’s knees for the entire game. But he seemed to have a pretty good game. With all the goalies, it’s going to be interesting how the coaches handle them going forward. None of them are associated with NLL teams right now, and there’s very little Senior A experience.
4: Dominique Alexander
On the defensive side, he really jumped out to me. As expected from his MLL play, he was very physical all night long and not afraid to really pressure the ball. The best part of his play was on loose balls and transition. He really played with his head up and was reading the field as he moved it up. He looked significantly more comfortable out there than others.
There were of course plenty of other players out there that did a great job, and I’m not excluding anyone specific on purpose. GO READ CONNOR’S ARTICLE! He talks about them! But, really this was an amazing move by US Lacrosse to have this exhibition tied to their marquee event of the year. I can’t wait to see this team evolve as 2019 approaches.