Denmark Lacrosse, known as “Dansk Lacrosse” to its countrymen, has been one of our favorite topics of conversation over the past few months, beginning with the team’s recent revival over the past year. Aside from exhibition appearances at the British National Championships, the Danish program has primarily had its sights set on the 2016 European Championships in Budapest this week.
The Denmark Lacrosse national program hasn’t enjoyed much success on the scoreboard, but you really couldn’t tell from a conversation with any of the nineteen man roster, nor the southern hemisphere coaching staff. Head coach Nick Ravenhall, originally from New Zealand, is living in Oslo after moving there from Norway, where he played an integral part helping to build up the ever-impressive Norwegian program.
Nick is joined by Adam Jorre and Brad Smith, two world-travelled Australian coaches who’ve seen a multitude of international lacrosse and who’s experience is impossible to ignore when you watch them coaching up the Vikings on the field.
The road is promising for Denmark Lacrosse, and it’s rekindled relationship with the game. After six years of failing to field a national team at any international tournaments, interest has been renewed chiefly due to the tireless efforts of the lovable pair of goalies, James Robbo and Kristian Schweitzer. After a couple changes to coaching staff, a drastic redirection of attitude has largely been attributed to the pair now based out of Copenhagen and Germany, respectfully.
Tireless fundraising and recruitment has been rewarded with a thin but dedicated roster. With ages ranging from a sixteen-year old midfielder to a fifty-one-year-old firefighter who only found the game at the spry age of forty-five.
Thanks to the consistently brilliant work of uncommon fit, and a FORTY-EIGHT HELMET DONATION from James Madison High School (VA), the Danish are looking flashy as well. A bright red wrap cloaks the back of the brand new Pro7 helmets that were donated. When every guy doesn’t have to make an extra two hundred Euro investment, it really makes a lot more things feasible. Donations like these are imperative to the growth of lacrosse in Europe and other developing markets.
The first game for the Danish was against neighboring Norway in Gödöllő on the rainy opening day of the European Championships.
The scoreboard wasn’t fun to look at in Denmark’s return debut on the opening night of the European Championships. I wasn’t looking at it, and nobody else really was either. The play on the field wasn’t perfect, with Norwegian skill and size running circles around the fledging Vikings. On the other fields, England and Germany were trading highlight reel goals, and Ireland was squaring off with Scotland in what might prove to be the best game of the tournament.
Denmark weathered sixty-seven shots on cage over the game, with twenty-four coming in the first quarter alone. While a win wasn’t likely, the strides made towards improvement aren’t easily ignored. This isn’t the end goal. To build a program, it unfortunately involves paying your dues for many years.
A relentless internet presence has been almost immediately beneficial. An American in Oslo, a woman from England, as well as a Polish guy in Copenhagen have all been in contact after finding articles, pictures and videos online via one of the many active Danish social media accounts.
After the game came a true display of friendship that goes beyond sportsmanship. Shaking someone’s hand and saying “good game” is a class act sport, but to give each and every opponent a badge with the Dansk logo commemorating the tournament, that’s above and beyond.
But they didn’t stop there. After the game, a traditional Nordic-style horn was introduced with a short thank-you speech to the Norwegian players. Officially dubbed the Kattegat Cup, after the strait of water that runs between Norway and Denmark. Norway’s win was overwhelming and resolute, but the cup will be up for grabs every time the two national teams meet. To offer a trinket to a team that, at this time, is ten levels above that of your own team, really shows the determination and dedication from the Danish.
I really love being around these guys. They’re some of the nicest guys in Budapest, and I don’t think there’s a crew that’s made me laugh harder than the coaching staff at the soda-shop around the corner from the dorm.
Keep an eye out for Denmark Lacrosse online, as well as on the field. It’s great to see a program being done right, and when nice guys are at the helm, it’s even better. I predict the Danish winning a few games towards the end of the week once they’re relegated from group play, but win or lose, the Vikings of Denmark are nineteen champions in my book.