Box lacrosse is being played across the United States this summer, from California to New York in the Interstate Box Lacrosse Association, also known as the IBLA.
Maybe you’ve heard of the IBLA, or maybe you haven’t. The good news is I’m here to give you the rundown on the IBLA and where you can catch its games all summer across the country.
WHAT IS IBLA Lacrosse?
My IBLA Background
First, let me fill you in on my background with the league.
My journey with the IBLA started as a media intern during the end of high school with the former Columbus Crows of Columbus, Ohio. From being an intern, I moved to playing in practices and offseason games with the team before moving to Iowa for college ball.
In the summer of 2019, my former teammate at Clarke, Louis Deeny, and I decided Iowa needed some box lacrosse. We knew we could put together a team but had no real idea what immediate response to expect. After getting the ground work done with the league, holding open practices and putting on informal tryouts, we quickly realized the IBLA had a great new home in Iowa with the Iowa Dogfish.
My goal at the time is the same as my current goal: grow the game of box lacrosse in the state and continue to play box lacrosse all summer long to improve my own skills. Our roster is filled with Iowa transplants from all across the country who quickly fell in love with the box game.
So, now you’re caught up on my background with the IBLA as an intern, team co-founder, and current player. Let’s dive into the details.
IBLA Founding and organization
Let’s dive into the founding and structure of the IBLA.
The IBLA was founded back in 2016 and began with just a handful of teams. The goal was to bring more box lacrosse into American cities across the nation. The first teams to begin play in the IBLA were in Colorado, and that started the model for IBLA regional competition. Each team across the IBLA plays in a designated region closest to its location. For example, we play in RBLL-Nebraska in Iowa. The winner from each region then advances to IBLA Nationals, which changes location each year. This year’s Nationals will be in Florida.
Entering the 2021 season, there are currently 17 regions across the country playing in the IBLA. In those 17 regions, there are 52 teams playing this season according to the league’s website. These teams come from traditional states like New York and Maryland and also non-traditional states like Iowa, Florida, Nebraska, Louisiana, and many more. Some teams draw a handful of fans each game while others draw hundreds. Regardless of the amount of fans in seats, it is clear that the IBLA is growing box lacrosse in the United States.
In 2019, the IBLA made news by partnering with the NLL to offer better chances for IBLA players to potentially make NLL rosters. This partnership also benefited officials and coaches through added NLL training and learning opportunities. The relationship is still young and will likely flourish in the coming years.
This partnership has been a bright light for many IBLA players with NLL hopes looking to one day make the jump. Regardless of the details of this partnership, it is truly an amazing thing for American box lacrosse and the IBLA as a whole.
IBLA players are considered “semi-professional” as they are not paid as professional athletes and are playing to better their abilities and develop as box lacrosse players. For some, this is a chance to develop their box game in hopes of one day cracking an NLL roster, while for others who have already played at the next level, it offers an opportunity to stay in the game and teach young players.
Many IBLA rosters this season have former and even some current NLL players on them. Some squads also contain former MLL players from recent years. Needless to say, IBLA athletes come from all walks of life and lacrosse experiences.
The IBLA also serves as a great developmental league for current college players looking to better their game and get more reps on the floor. As a college player myself, it’s a great way to grow my skills and knowledge of the box game with the hopes of continuing to play box after college. The wide array of lacrosse backgrounds is what really makes the league so incredible.
Maybe you knew about the IBLA prior to this article, or maybe you didn’t. Either way, I hope this helped educate you just a bit more about a growing league that spans the United States. If you’re a field player looking to make the jump to box or an experienced box player, I highly suggest you look into your closet IBLA team and inquire about getting involved. My IBLA experiences have been incredible, and my box game has developed beyond belief. The connections and friendships you develop in this league are true signs the game is growing.