Editor’s Note: Welcome back our friends at Scotland Lacrosse to the LaxAllStars.com network! The Scottish boys are setting their focus on a successful run to the 2018 World Games in Israel. With that comes updates straight from the source…
Last time we dropped in, we focused on the transition from European Box Championships and the Women’s World Cup, to the Men’s World Championship in Israel next summer. Leading us into battle, once again, will be the legendary Brian Silcott, aided by defensive coordinator Peter Lawrence. Coach Silcott might not be Scottish born and raised, but he’s given this program everything he’s got to help propel through the Blue Division.
Why would a man with a pedigree like Silcott’s want to dedicate his resources to grow the game overseas? Well we sat down with our fearless leader to find out what makes this coaching staff tick. We also asked Coach Silcott to pose some questions for Coach Lawrence to answer. The more familiar we are, the better our chances for success become.
Meet Brian Silcott, Scotland Lacrosse Head Coach
Hey, Coach! Can you tell us a little about your lacrosse background and what you’re up to at the moment?
I grew up in Westchester County, NY, and started playing lacrosse as a sophomore at Fox Lane High School. After starting college as a three sport athlete at Cornell, then at Franklin and Marshall, I eventually ended up playing just lacrosse for Scott Nelson at Nazareth College. [Coach Nelson] taught me the game and I went on to be an All-American, win a NCAA DIII National Championship, and play in both the NLL and MLL.
I have coached high school, college, and professional lacrosse, but I am currently focusing on growing the game at the youth level with the Firehawks Lacrosse Club in Northern California.
We understand you recently moved from Florida to California, can you tell us a little more about the move?
I was presented with a great opportunity by the Firehawks President, Doug Appleton. I had been spending time out there over the past few years working with the Firehawks coaches and doing on-field clinics with the kids. Doug and I also play lacrosse together with the Elderstatemen and over the years we have spoken about the distant possibility that I would some day move to NorCal to run the Firehawks for him.
I guess the time was just right as Woodside Priory School decided to add boys lacrosse and offered me the job of launching the program. Combining the two positions, along with my wife running the Firehawks girls, made for the a tough opportunity to pass up.
Where do you see California lacrosse going in the future?
I can’t claim to know much about California lacrosse at this point. My focus is entirely on the Firehawks and Priory. I do see a great opportunity to take an already strong youth program into its next phases of growth and to build a program at Priory that offers kids an outstanding high school lacrosse experience.
My hope is that some of these kids will fall in love with the game and end up experiencing a least a fraction of the great times lacrosse has given me.
As far as broader growth, I just hope kids have a great experience with the game. I am not of the mindset that lacrosse has to grow and that growth is critical to our sport. I do believe that it can be a lot of fun and with responsible growth, we can continue to claim we have the best sport there is for kids to play.
The best sport it is! And you’re still playing too. We saw you suit up for the MLL Alumni game a few weeks ago. Tell us about that.
Just plain fun. The time leading up to the game was more of a social gathering than a warm up. Then the instinctual competitiveness came out as soon as the whistle blew. I hope they keep doing this and supporting great charities each year. I plan to keep playing until Vinnie Sombrotto quits and I become the oldest guy in the game.
How and when did you get involved in Lacrosse Scotland?
I got the job with Scotland in January 2016. I was playing club ball in Jacksonville with Matt Carey who is a Team Scotland guy. Matt was born in Scotland, but grew up in Maine. He told me the position was open and suggested I apply.
I had a phone interview with the Director and he offered me the job soon after. My first major event was the Euros in Summer 2016, and next up is the 2018 World Championships. It has been a great ride, thus far, and with our California tour coming up in October, it is a really exciting time for Scotland Lacrosse.
Speaking of Euros, how did you find the European Championships in Hungary last year?
It was a blast. The venue was less than ideal, but the competition and spirit more than made up for it. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the nations different styles of play and making new friends from all over Europe.
Our overtime game with Finland in the quarterfinals was one of my favorite games ever as a coach, despite our loss. We were far from perfect, but it was a battle throughout and both teams left everything on the field. Can’t ask for much more as a coach.
Aside from facilities, what are the key challenges teams face in these tournaments formats?
Keeping it together mentally and physically is critical. I learned a lot in Godollo and I am glad I had that experience before tackling the Blue Division in Israel. I think we did a lot of things well, but I also plan to make some adjustments in our routine with an eye towards physical and mental durability.
How have you seen lacrosse in Scotland develop during your time with the programme?
There are two kinds of development. One is growing the game and for Scotland that would mean launching youth lacrosse programs. The other is helping the existing players get better at lacrosse. Most of what we have done thus far in focused on the latter.
The truth is, someone probably needs to invest/donate money towards the growth of the game in Scotland if youth lacrosse is going to spring to life anytime soon. We are working on it at a grassroots level with intro (“taster”) clinics at schools and in communities. Even when there is interest, it is difficult to provide on going lacrosse experiences.
There is a total of one paid employee working to coordinate all of men’s and women’s lacrosse in Scotland. Rec, Club, University, International, Events…..all of it. She works her tail off and gets very good voluntary help, but it needs an infusion of cash if the needle is going to move quickly.
On the player development side, we have seen some tremendous growth both among club/university players and the National Team guys. They are a fantastic group to work with and generally have both a strong work ethic and desire to learn more about the game.
How were the Scotland trials in Stirling this weekend? What did you guys get up to?
We had a solid weekend of work in Stirling and got to play a couple games against France as well. Having France in camp with us definitely added to the experience and I hope to do more training/scrimmage weekends in the future with other countries.
The guys also all got to meet our defensive coordinator, Pete Lawrence, who is just an outstanding addition to the Scotland staff. We were able to get some good teaching done and at the end of the weekend cut the squad down to 40 for the California Tour in October.
What’s next in the trial process for the 2018 Worlds? How are you preparing for the World Championships?
Going to California, October 14-22 is next. We will be in the Redwood City area and plan to play 8 games over 7 days, with training and team building mixed in as well. It will be a rigorous week, but we will be able to accomplish a great deal and really give the guys a reminder of what a grind big tournaments can be.
The highlight will be playing NCAA Division 1 Marquette University and soon-to-be Division 1 University of Utah on Saturday, October 21st at Sequoia HS.
The week will also give us the chance to put in all of our major systems, introduce the training program for Oct-June, select the final roster, and have some fun growing as a team. After California, we split up and do most of our preparation independently, or in small groups. I go over once a month to do training session open all players in Scotland and the National Team guys based in the UK will attend those sessions.
We also have events in Manchester and Edinburgh the last weekend in April and first weekend in May that many of the guys will make it over for, but we will not have the full squad for either of those events. The next time we will all be together after California will be the week before Israel 2018.
All of the players will have individual training programs and we will communicate regularly including position group film sessions, but everything will be coordinated via email, apps, and video conference. I am actually excited for the process. It’s different from anything I have done before, but a really cool challenge with a great group of players and coaches.
What are your objectives/goals for Scotland and the World Championships?
- Honor the Game
- Win a Medal
- Have Fun
Scotland was absent from the European Box Championships, is there talk about starting a Scottish Box Program?
Yes. It is in the works. We tried for Euros, but it was just not in our best interests to push it at that point. I think after Israel we will take a serious look at how we make it happen. Box is being played in Scotland by a couple of clubs in rectangular mini soccer courts.
I ran some development sessions there last fall/winter and the guys love the game. We just need to get facilities lined up and work it into the existing lacrosse schedule in Scotland and then we can start looking a fielding a National Team.
Meet Peter Lawrence, Scotland Lacrosse Defensive Coordinator
Thanks for the time, Coach! We love watching you get to work. One last thing, do you mind dropping some questions for Coach Lawrence to answer?
Sure! Coach Lawrence, please tell us a little about yourself and your lacrosse background?
For the last 11 years, I have served as head coach at Division 1’s University of Hartford. I am also the current COO at NXT Sports.
As a player, I competed in 3 NCAA Tournaments and have now coached in two of them with Hartford in 2011 and 2016.
This was your first time with the Scotland team and in the UK, what were your first impressions?
My focus was on getting the job done, right away. To me, it’s clear that the players competed, listened, and have the ability and desire to win a medal in Israel. I really enjoyed working with the D as the players are tough and quickly executed the systems we installed in Stirling.
How was the training weekend and what did you take out of the scrimmage games with France?
Simply put, we got better every time we stepped on the field. In the first game against France, we got off to a slow start. We made in-game adjustments and the players responded. Then we made post-game adjustments in order to get off to a better start on the second day we played France.
We won the first half of the second game, 8-1, opposed to 9-6 on the first day. That was a great sign for the coaching staff and a credit to the players in regards to making changes and adapting.
Are you joining the team in San Francisco and if so, what are you hoping the team gets out of this tour?
Yes, I am joining the team in California. I want to see how the players respond to so many games over a small window of time. Coach Silcott has built a very demanding schedule to prepare the staff and players for success in the World Games.
As far as the defense goes, I want to build our systems out and develop our communication and terminology. That way, we are on the same page when we compete. Lastly, I want to see who shows up in great shape and that will be telling of who really wants to help us win a medal.
What are your expectations for the trial process and the 2018 Worlds?
We expect to compete for a medal. I expect the trials to be very competitive for the players both mentally and physically. We will have Team Scotland prepared to give their best effort every time we step on the field.
Thank you so much to both Coach Silcott and Coach Lawrence. Under your guidance, Scotland Lacrosse is going to grow stronger than ever. We cant wait to show the world what we’re made of in Israel next summer. Before then, we’ll be back with an update on the California tour and the continued growth of the Scottish!