First off, allow me to apologize for the long absence. Getting everything organized for a national team while balancing your own life has proven to be very time consuming for the management team. Although I had hoped for far more posts than we currently have, I must say England Box Lacrosse has come along way from the last time you heard from us.
Our governing body withdrew from hosting the men’s World Championships next summer. Therefore, things, at times, almost came to a complete halt for us. As the dust starts to settle, and the squad being announced, we finally got everything on schedule to be in the best position possible for this July’s European Championships.
The Growth of our Program
You may remember our posts about the history of our program a few months back, the discussion about growing our brand, and the box lacrosse game in the UK. Since those posts, the program has appeared to be growing in notoriety. With the strength of social media activity, our exposure has grown exponentially.
Our development team, the London Knights, are always making friends at the Hrebesky each year. The good people of Dreadlax continue to make waves. Those guys continue to travel tournament to tournament across Europe, welcoming anyone of any skill who wants to play. The inception of the Northern Box Lacrosse League this spring, by England Alum, Andy Downing, has peaked curiosity for how we play. Popularity has grown since the new management team has taken over.
We weren’t happy with lurking in the shadows of our field counterparts. A whole new approach was taken to how we wanted to represent ourselves. Our efforts appear to be working. Of course, having read about our great admiration for the previous management group, we’re not downplaying a thing about what they accomplished for the team. Their work made what we do possible. On the box side, a younger and more tech savvy group stepped in to keep moving the program forward. Although we’ve faced resistance from unexpected groups, we are ecstatic at the progress we’ve made in growing England Box Lacrosse throughout the UK and Europe.
We the North
The Northern Box Lacrosse League, sponsored by UK Lacrosse Company, was started this year. The sole intent of introducing the box game to players of all ages and it couldn’t come at a better time. Their first scrimmage was a success and although they had to resort to playing with hockey equipment for their goalie. Luckily they had enough for two full teams and, after a brief practice and run down beforehand, played their first legit game.
Although you could tell which players had never played the game before, it wasn’t long until they started to mimic what the more experienced players were doing in contrast to the field game. Pick and rolls, proper crosschecking, and tight quarters lacrosse were introduced to the curious newcomers. By the end of the game guys were really picking it up. The day was an unexpected success, with more sessions booked with eager anticipation for the future.
Members of the National Team are playing a pre-tournament game against the members of the Northern League. We have U14 introduction sessions planned for youth hoping to expand their game. Those in the UK box community are hopeful and excited for what the development of this league will mean, not only for the national program, but the game in general. Although it may appear to be a drop in the bucket to some on the outside looking in, this is more than we’ve ever had in our 10 years of existence! We couldn’t be more grateful for the reception it has received from the playing community.
We were relatively none existent on the social media scene heading into the new year. In today’s day and age it was important to start developing an active and successful social media presence. We had a twitter page that was an afterthought. Our Facebook page had about 20 unanswered messages beyond the response bot. We didn’t even have an Instagram page. So, while management did management things, team member Tom Roche and myself got to work on building a social media presence to build the brand.
From our first Instagram post on February 11th to today our twitter is actively posting, our Facebook is responding to whatever message comes our way, and our Instagram grew from 0 to almost 700 followers in just 4 months. We’re finally getting our brand of lacrosse out to the public and it’s helped in gaining potential endorsements as well as meeting players and fans curious about how to get involved. A community of people that was untapped by our program is now being reached and we’re optimistic that this recognition will aid in the further development of our program.
Now as anyone can attest to, pursuing companies for sponsorship can be the hardest aspect of running a team. We often made ground only to lose out in the end. Yet, after all our shameless soliciting, we also made some friends along the way. After having helmet camera company UHWK jump on board early on, team member William Walker brought in MOL Logistics as our black jersey sponsor. Canadian mesh company Mogul Mesh swooped in and landed on the front of our whites.
Goaltender, Eliot Pugh worked as hard as anyone bringing in his own sponsors. Others were able to procure numerous individual sponsors for their own jerseys to help in offsetting costs. All in all, given it was a venture that the management team was fairly new at and where we missed the old guard’s sage experience, I would say we have done pretty well for our first real kick at funding a national program.
Our gear finally came in and it’s slick. Some slight endorsement delays were settled between us and our Association’s cooperation with STX. We went ahead and ordered some slick custom Under Armour gloves and shafts for the boys.
These guys have been keeping us equipped since before we joined the ELA and we were excited to get outfitted by them one more time for Euros. These gloves are, as the kids say, “fire.” Simple, sharp, and classy; a few characteristics that we try to display in our program.
One thing we felt was lacking in previous tournaments was a more emphasised team look. Everyone had different helmets and, beyond the jerseys, nothing else was really uniform about us. BC native and team member Nate Clare got us set up with team helmets. Established UK decal company, LaxWraps, will be getting some helmet designs together. We can take the floor this July with the appearance of a program dressed for success.
Uncommon Fit almost appears to have established a monopoly in the European lacrosse community and for good reason: These guys make some quality uniforms.
Having used them for our London Knights program at the Hrebesky, we decided to stick with it and have them put together our National uniforms; we love them. Making sure to place everything we asked for onto the uniform, they came back and exceeded our expectations. We are pumped to suit up this July in the Uncommon brand.
As is the case with most things, none of what we’ve built, so far, this year came without some setbacks and delays. As mentioned earlier, the decision by the English Lacrosse Association to withdraw from hosting the World Championships in 2018 inevitably put our needs and requests on the back-burner. It was a big decision on their part that needed to be made, we understood.
Extra pressure has been placed on the women’s World Cup. It needs to be a huge success in England this July, while we’re away at Euros. Naturally, with that kind of development, budget requests, decisions, sponsor endorsements, and mailer requests either don’t happen at all, or take days and even weeks to figure out. This invariably means that to get things done within the time line, items we would like to pursue are sometimes thrown out or put away for a later date. It’s all the cost of doing business. Unfortunately it can sometimes shades us in a poor light to those wanting to help.
The management team remained optimistic and trudged on, nonetheless focusing on what we could control to make this event a possibility for everyone involved. We knew from day one it wasn’t going to be smooth sailing and we saw it coming early on. We were ready to brace ourselves for what issues hit and continued to move forward.
That’s About It
You’re all caught up! It’s been a very long few months for us but the tournament is almost a month away. We will be busy right up to opening ceremonies. We know it will be more than worth it if we can achieve success on the floor.
The game of box lacrosse is slowly gaining solid ground in the UK and in Europe. We will continue to do our best to keep the momentum moving forward, no matter what setbacks come our way. There will always be something wanting to hold us back. As long as you determine what you want and set goals to achieve them, the negative just becomes background noise.
We are very proud of the team we have selected and know we will be putting forth the best team we possibly could onto the floor come July 8th. It’s been a long road to get here and it’s only getting longer but rest assured, the British are coming.
Lastly, head on over to our generosity page if you want to help on a more private scale.