As the 2018 World Lacrosse Championships in Netanya, Israel rapidly approach, it has quickly become “business time” for Denmark Lacrosse. We have a lot to do, and a lot to prepare, in the next 11 months. One part of that is selecting a national team roster.
In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about roster legitimacy in international lacrosse. Some people have gone so far as to say that lacrosse shouldn’t be an Olympic sport because every national team is just full of Americans anyway so it would be America, Canada and the Iroquois Nationals playing against USA B/C/D/E/F. Because there are so many “heritage” players, every team’s roster is a hot topic at every tournament. And while I can’t deny that some national teams select Americans/Canadians with heritage from their country to heavily bolster their playing ranks and compete internationally, there are always two sides to every story.
In Denmark we have had this conversation a number of times. Do we go with only Danish guys? Who are we going to count as a “Danish” guy? What about the non Danes who are living and playing lacrosse in Denmark? Is picking a bunch of guys who don’t live in Denmark in the hope of winning 1 or 2 extra games worth it in the long run? What about Danish Americans who have lived here previously and understand the culture? If we do take Danish Americans, how do we get them involved so they help grow the game locally in Denmark?
These questions come up for almost every international team, and each national program deals with it differently. Fortunately for us, in the build up to our 2018 World Championship campaign, we have found 2 experienced lacrosse players in Nikolaj Lund (born in Denmark but grew up playing in Portland, Oregon) and Nick Skeffington. Nikolaj and Nick have put their hands up to move to Denmark, and play/coach locally in Copenhagen and Aarhus respectively.
What would drive a man to move to Denmark? How is our “local” approach working so far? I will leave Nick Skeffington to tell his own story, while also telling ours:
My name is Nick Skeffington. Aside from being a 20 year old business and economics student about to make a huge move from Southern California to Denmark, I am one of the newest additions to the current Danish Lacrosse squad for the 2018 World Lacrosse Championships in Israel.
The Team Denmark group most recently participated in a tournament in Kiel, Germany where we competed against teams from around Germany and the Netherlands. We were undefeated and won the tournament to win Team Denmark’s first “piece of silverware” in history.
But how did I get here?
I first started playing lacrosse when I was ten years old on my local school team with some of my friends. We immediately got into it, and stuck together to play lacrosse all the way through middle and high school. It hasn’t always been sunshine and unicorns though. After countless knee problems and a broken wrist my freshman year of high school, I tried quitting only to be strongly encouraged to continue to play by my mom. She knows me too well. Other than this period of uncertainty, I was constantly hooked on the sport. Most of my friends that I still see today were made through lacrosse.
My mom grew up in a small city in Denmark called Sønderborg. She came to California for six months when she was 21 years old as an Au pair. She was taking care of a woman named Deanne’s kids. She would end up meeting Deanne’s brother while working for her. This was my dad, and they hit it off right away. They were married within six months of meeting each other, and my mom would move to California to stay with him. This meant that I would have Danish citizenship and family overseas.
When high school was coming to an end, I had plans with a friend to attend a school in Sønderborg, Denmark called Idrætshøjskolen. Here I would spend a year playing sports and doing some traveling. Unfortunately this meant that I would not have the opportunity to play lacrosse at any University back home in California. There were plenty of sports at my new school in Denmark, which allowed me to stay in shape, but there was no lacrosse as it wasn’t a known sport in this part of the country. My friend Dylan and I tried to coach up a practice during one of our athletics classes at one point, which was a blast, but it would not come to be a recurring event.
Upon coming home from Denmark I attended a local school named Saddleback College near my home for a year. While here, I applied to Aarhus University for the following year. I wouldn’t know whether or not I got accepted until just a few weeks before I would have to move. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would even accept the offer if I got it. During this time however, I was emailing with a player from the Danish National squad who gave my info to Nick Ravenhall, the head coach. Coach Ravenhall then emailed me back saying he had gotten word of me and would like me to fly out and play in a tournament with the team, to see if I belonged.
For two and a half months leading up to the tournament I backpacked around Europe with my friend Dillon (planned long before news of the tournament). During this trip we did just about everything, from crazy music festivals to running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Although this was a vacation of sorts, I had this upcoming tournament on my mind every morning. I did my best to stay in shape in between the long nights and cheap drinks. This meant anything from hung-over pushups to jogging home from the club for some late night cardio.
The long, strange trip eventually came to an end, which meant I would fly from Budapest back to Denmark, and meet up with the team.
KIEL Tourney for Denmark Lacrosse
I met up with four guys from the team in Copenhagen to drive down to Kiel, Germany for the tournament. These were the first guys I met from the team and I had no idea how we’d get along. As luck would have it, we were cracking jokes and messing with each other right away. All the pressure and stress was immediately put to ease and I knew it would be an awesome weekend. We were the first group to make it down to the hostel in Germany. We got our room keys, picked our roommates, and waited for the others to arrive (which ended up being past midnight). We made some first impressions and hung out and went to bed to rest up for the long weekend ahead.
The team got up, ate breakfast together and grabbed some coffee before our team meeting. The new additions introduced themselves, where they were from, how long they’d played, what position they play, etc. We then made our way over to warm up for our first of four games on the day.
During the first game, I felt a little awkward as far as making plays with the team. I definitely didn’t feel any chemistry yet with our different playing styles. Coach Nick put me at ease and gave me the advice I needed to get back in my zone.
We pulled it out and won this first game. Despite the rain, this gave us the confidence to finish off the next three games with wins as well. After the games we all met up and ate some dinner, had a drink or two and then went back to the hostel to rest up for the last two playoff games on Sunday.
Luckily, Sunday saw some better weather, and we came out hot against our semi-final opponent and were able to blow past them. This led us to the Championship game, our biggest so far. With great guidance from Coach Nick, we were able to come away with the win against the well known German travel team Back Crease Boys (RUN BCB). We were on cloud nine. Many of the guys who have been a part of Danish Lacrosse through the years haven’t won many games and it was something special to share this successful weekend with them in the red and white uniforms.
Overall this weekend was insane. To play the sport I love again, and for such an awesome team like Team Denmark, was such a good time. It was an honor to meet all these guys and now be a part of their squad for the times coming. Our next stop as a group is Sweden for the annual Lund 8v8 tournament.
You can follow along with what the Fighting Pastries are doing on:
Editor’s Note: Thanks to Nick (and James!) for sharing his experience so far. We will be back soon with more from Denmark Lacrosse, and their journey to Israel 2018, and beyond!