Who won the Menschner Cup? Quite simply, Radotin’s own Custodes took home the second annual, just the same as the inaugural a year prior. To the victor goes the spoils, of course. But, in addition to my congratulations for the winners in the traditional sense, I’d also really like to get the word out about the other winners of the weekend.
There were 11 teams from Europe and North America present at this second installment of the memorial honoring Frank Menschner’s life and legacy. Some teams were returners, some were newcomers, and some of the usual suspects were absent. The rotating field can be attributed to ever-busier and ever-more expensive summers as lacrosse grows on the European stage.
Well, Brian, Who Won in Your Book?
There were three or four of them. These were the clear winners that stood out in my mind. Clear ones. These selections had undeniably successful weekends, no matter what that really looked like on the scoreboard.
The Menschner Family
First of all, I’d have to say that Mike and Marybeth Menschner received the greatest welcome into the world of Radotin. A year prior, Frank’s sister, Patty Menschner, was welcomed in to the world Frank raved about. This year it was Frank’s brother and his lovely wife that were able to see what Frank rambled on about about for so many years.
The Menschner family was never able to experience the Ales Hrebesky Memorial with Frank while he was with us. As with so many of us, we never really communicate what we mean to each other. Part of me thinks that Frank’s passing has really and truly allowed the Menschner family to be able to truly grasp Frank’s impact in Radotin.
Mike spoke about his brother’s passing, and more importantly, his legacy at the opening ceremony of the games. Imaging myself doing the same, this is a task I don’t think I could honestly carry out. It was a heavy reminder of our own mortality, but more so to really run out every loose ball and finish every play. We don’t really know when that play might be our last one.
I was feeling pretty beat up and sorry for my own bones before the tournament kicked off. A lot of whining and complaining about sore joints and so on. After I saw Mike holding up Frank’s last mask and an old uniform, I’d like to think I stopped being a little cupcake (for at least a couple shifts).
This goes for all the teams. It isn’t necessarily just the rookies in the purest sense of having never been there before. Anyone who’s just starting out, whether it’s their first or second appearance in a box lacrosse tournament/game, they won this week.
In the AHM, higher caliber teams can’t really afford to carry weak links in the chain if they want to win the cup. Weaker teams often times spend their first half of the weekend getting pummeled by those top-notch teams.
At the Menschner, everyone got good, competitive games, and plenty of shifts and time to play. With a point-per-period scoring system in the round robin, every ten minutes was a new game and teams came out battling for the entirety of their weekend.
Teams like the Brataslava Bats, Dreadlax, the Polish Eagles, and the Box Monkeys were taking on new players who hadn’t seen live gameplay before. The seasoned veterans of those programs were nothing but encouraging in coaching up the new recruits.
Realizing that fresh blood is the only true road to longevity for a club is sometimes a difficult path to follow. That said, it will always pay dividends years on down the line. To any and all of the guys who suited up for the first time, welcome to the family. To any of those who gave it a second shot, congratulations my friend, you’ve caught the bug.
Norway’s GSI Grizzlies
Without slighting any other team, I’d really just like to take a paragraph out to appreciate the boys from Norway. The Grizzlies are a university team that traveled down for the club’s first-ever box lacrosse experience. A full team of guys came down in matching team apparel and decided that it was time that more Norwegian players get on board with the fever that is catching like wildfire amongst other developing European lacrosse nations.
From the first whistle on Thursday, until the last whistle on Saturday, the Grizzlies never stopped improving. They never stopped cheering for their own boys on every play. Whether they were winning or losing, the Grizzlies celebrated every goal loud enough that you could hear them from the train station. No joke.
The Grizzlies got their first two wins, each in one-goal games. The first win came over the Polish Eagles, followed by taking Dreadlax to a tied score after full time. When it was all said and done, the Grizzlies got some wins, got their bodies smashed and returned the favor. Every little Czech kid running around the box had a black and yellow Grizzlies hat or t-shirt, the real sign of a true team in Radotin!
I guess I’m not really proud or thankful for one player or another on the Grizzlies. I’m more so thankful and proud that a club took the initiative to say, hey, we’re getting in to box lacrosse, let’s go do our best and we’ll see where the chips lie afterwards.
To any of you young clubs in Europe reading this, THE FRANK MENSCHNER CUP IS THE PERFECT TIME AND PLACE FOR YOU TO GET AN INTRODUCTION INTO BOX LACROSSE!
The Wolves are the feeder program for the Custodes. Wolves range in age from 15 (or so) to 20 years in age. Players can play and develop their skills with the hope and ambition of one day graduating into the red and white Custodes uniform.
I didn’t think the Wolves would do all that well. Not that anyone would think lesser of these boys, but I don’t think anyone really had high hopes for the Wolves on the weekend.
The Box Monkeys play a very physical game, the Bats have some very experienced goal scorers, and the Menschner Men had countless years more experience in lacrosse despite their short roster.
Despite all this, the young legs, hungry bellies, and experienced coaching of these young boys all clicked for the Wolves. Believe it or not, the junior program was able to take an incredible third place. After an exciting and impressive semi-final loss to the senior Custodes, by a way of 7-3, the Wolves went on to play the American squad bearing Frank’s name for third place.
The Menschner Men won third place last year and were looking to repeat that result after their semi-final loss the Glasgow Clydesiders. Yet, the Wolves just had more gas in the tank and ultimately wanted it more. A 10-8 final for 3rd place, in favor of the Wolves, ultimately proved to be one of the most entertaining games of the tournament.
The future is bright for these kids. For all the kids. The resources and opportunities to pursue this game are ever-expanding. I’m glad I’m playing my games now, because I’m not sure I’d have a spot on anybody’s team with the upcoming waves of talented players.
Those were the real winners of the second-annual Menschner Cup, but I’d also like to say thank you to a couple of other entities. These groups need to know that I appreciate them more than I’ve actually voiced out loud.
The Glasgow Clydesiders
This part is selfish. I’m one of the guys behind the Glasgow Clydesiders, and I’m shamelessly plugging the first ever appearance of the club outside of the AHM.
We repeated our 2nd place AHM finish with a 2nd place at the Menschner Cup, falling to the same opponent, and I couldn’t be more proud of these boys. The Clydesiders will be growing in the coming months (and years) into one of the largest and best-travelled lacrosse clubs in existence.
After organizing this bunch of miscreants and muppets, I’d just like to say thanks to the boys for coming from every corner of the continent and beyond to help make this happen.
There’s a serious opportunity to bring a traveling bunch of good-hearted men in kilts to every major tournament in the world.
Ondrej Mika and LCC
Thank you for having us. Seriously. Having a tournament is one thing. Most tournaments say, “We’re playing these dates, so pay X amount and show up.” Ondrej’s service level is unparalleled, and the support of his staff and volunteers matches his unwavering efforts.
From sun up to sun down, there are kids in yellow vests scurrying from the building, to the box, to the trash cans, to the gates, and everywhere in between making it all as perfect as could be.
You have twenty people who need accommodations? Handled.
You’re guys need rides to and from the airport? Just let Ondrej know when they land.
Anyone who knows this place and this tournament know that it isn’t just the lacrosse that you come for. It’s the culture of welcoming everyone in and treating them like part of the family. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to Ondrej, LCC, and the town of Radotin.
I think this is also the perfect place to thank the Haylett family. Wayne and Kristina have welcomed me into their home as a guest for the second time now, and I can’t thank them enough. Their hospitality is more than just a host/guest relationship. When staying in the Haylett home, I’ve experienced nothing but the same respect which the family treats another member.
I really do feel at home here and there’s no chance I’d feel as welcome in Radotin if it weren’t for this amazing family. A big thanks to the kids, Sophie, Dan, and Max, for always being there watching games and for being my friends!
I look forward to watching you three grow up!
I’m a big fan of The Universe. It has planets and stuff. While it has also given us the opportunity to exist, more so it keeps bringing the right people together to enjoy this amazing game together. There was a moment, where I stood on the roof of the clubhouse, hanging all my equipment out to “dry.” I looked out and I saw dozens of faces, and I knew them all. Some I knew better than others, but I knew them all.
When you can look around and all you see is your friends, it’s a fortunate feeling. I don’t know if you’ll ever look around and see all your friends, but if you look around and the only people you see are friends, that’s pretty fortunate.
I saw my high school teammate from Oswego, New York meeting my teammates from Germany, and chatting with people I’ve lived with in Austria. They were all getting fist bumps from the boys whose family owns the basement flat I stay in.
I saw grown men almost brought to tears because little kids wanted their autograph. Finally, I hung out with friends I haven’t seen in years, only to realize that I haven’t gotten a haircut in longer than I’ve actually known them.
And I felt home.
Standing half-naked on a roof looking over the anomaly that is the box in Radotin. Every footstep an abrasion from the rough roofing, every glance down met with the scene of people from different corners of the world laughing, hugging, and singing some bizarre song.
It gave Frank Menschner a home away from home, and he decided to share that paradise with hundreds of others. I’ve found this same wonderful place by other means, and keeping suit, I’m doing my best to share it with as many others as possible.
Frank saw something special in this little town of the Prague suburbs. I see that thing. While I feel that thing, I can’t really put it into words all that well. I don’t think Frank could either.
All he could say, and all I can really say, is that I’d love for you to come along and visit this wonderful place with me. It’s okay if you aren’t the best player. If you want to see a corner of the world you haven’t experienced before, you’re willing to run hard, and you enjoy laughing until it hurts, I’d cordially invite you to enjoy a tournament held in honor of a man who truly understood this special place.
See you in Prague, my friends.
Editor’s Note: As per usual, the talented Martin Bouda did an unbelievable job capturing the essence of the 2017 Menschner Cup by camera. Stop everything you’re doing to check out more of his work from those three days. No one captures a lacrosse event like Martin.