Editor’s note: Our chat with Scott Ratliff is sponsored by SISU Guard, official mouthguard of Team USA. LaxAllStars is proud to be working with SISU and US Lacrosse to cover Team USA any way possible!
Coming into the MLL hot off a 2013 National Championship win with Loyola, Scott Ratliff has yet to miss a game. In fact, watch the Atlanta Blaze live and there seems to be giant chunks of time that he doesn’t come off the field at all. Through 66 games in his first five seasons, he’s racked up 27 goals, 9 two-pointers, and 26 assists, further becoming an integral part of the Blaze offense. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention he’s done so while using a six foot pole?
Not only is he absolutely dangerous with the long pole on the offensive side of the field, his incredible speed and shifty footwork has made him one of the most lethal defenders in the game. Just when you think you have Ratliff beat, he will catch you, strip the ball, scoop and head the other way. In fact, 286 times the ball has hit the turf in his pro career, he’s come up with the possession for his squad.
Although he doesn’t openly agree, many see what Ratliff is doing on the field as the reinvention of the LSM position. He’s never limited to just face-offs or the backend to support the defense. This guy is everywhere. If there’s a play to be made, Ratliff is on it, and his teammates have just as much confidence in him as he does himself. That’s also because he’s leading by example, even when it seems no one is looking. An avid reader, adventurist, and athlete, he takes time everyday to not only workout his body to compete at the highest level, but he is constantly training his mind to grow as a person. Ratliff is a sponge, absorbing any new information and embarking on countless journeys to expand his outlook and world perspective.
Having the drive to stay educated, open-minded, and constantly in the hunt for self-improvement, Ratliff has shaped himself into the ideal athlete for any roster. As a member of the training field for Team USA’s run at the 2018 FIL World Lacrosse Championship, Ratliff will bring a lot more than his talents as an LSM to the team. He’s a locker room guy that has a knack for making everyone around him that much better, everyday, in life or lacrosse. It’s been over a year since we crossed paths, so I was excited to crack into his busy schedule and see what’s going on in the world of Scott Ratliff.
Interview with Scott Ratliff
MD: Congrats on making the initial roster for Team USA and the 2018 World Games. What do you think you can personally bring to the team that will help bring the Gold Medal back to the States?
SR: I hope that I can bring some toughness and athleticism in-between the lines. With no shot clock, possessions are extremely important in the international game. Any chance to pick the ball up off the ground, whether it’s a face-off or on the defensive end, is magnified.
Not being with teammates around the clock is a challenge for all lacrosse players. How do you divide your time training between stick work, cardio, lifting, etc.?
I spend a large portion of my time on speed, agility, and cardio. Being a LSM who likes to play on both sides of the field, having the speed, quickness and endurance necessary to do that is my biggest priority.
On top of that, I lift weights and shoot several times a week. Coaching the local youth in Atlanta is also extremely helpful in terms of having a stick in my hands everyday.
A lot of guys need a shake, certain music, a good foam roll, all types of things to start the day and get prepared. Do you have a daily routine and if so, what do you feel lost without?
My daily routine is pretty simple. I like to train first thing in the morning and then reward myself with an ice coffee from Starbucks.
Once I get those two things done, the rest of my day is sure to be productive.
They call you a LSM, but it seems you’ve invented a whole new position with the way you wield a long pole. Did your coaches encourage you to shoot, hop in the offense, push the ball, that sort of thing growing up?
Growing up, I always played short stick middie. To me that never meant offensive midfield. It meant you stay on the field the whole time (offense, defense & face-offs). When I switched to long pole my junior year of high school, it really didn’t change my playing style that much.
I was lucky to have coaches in high school and college that encouraged me to continue to try and impact the game in as many ways as I could. I do not see it as me inventing a new position. Really, I think I am just following in a line of guys who played this way going back to Ric Beardsley, Matt Dwan, Brodie Merill, Kyle Sweeney, Eric Martin, Kyle Hartzell, and Joel White.
I know you’re constantly on the circuit coaching, doing camps and whatnot. What do you think is holding a lot of young long sticks back from taking their skills to the next level?
I think understanding the importance of stick work is huge. A lot of teams develop athletic physical defensive players who are great at staying in front of people and throwing checks.
But, all defensive players need to also understand the importance of picking up and clearing the ball. Watching club lacrosse so often, the long poles and goalies’ abilities to clear is consistently one of the biggest weaknesses I see.
You started to dabble a bit in the indoor game. Are you drawn to box lacrosse at all and do you plan to continue playing it?
I am absolutely drawn to box lacrosse. The game is incredibly fun to play and it is hard not to be blown away by what all the NLL is accomplishing as a league.
I definitely have plans to make box lacrosse a part of my playing career before my time is up!
When you were growing up in Georgia, the state wasn’t even on the lacrosse map. Now, with multiple NCAA schools, two pro teams, and a massive community, what is the biggest contrast you see from the way the game was received during your upbringing to now and what do you think drove the growth?
The biggest difference from when I was in high school to now is just how prevalent lacrosse is in the community. It’s hard to go anywhere in Atlanta without seeing a goal in the yard, a bumper sticker on a car, or a lacrosse t-shirt on someone.
I think the biggest driver of growth has been the influential people in the community who have pushed the sport forward. In Atlanta, that has been people like Liam Banks, Frank Daniels, Lou Corsetti, and Rich Wheman amongst others. Now, having both the Blaze and World Champion Georgia Swarm in town is only taking it to another level.
The whole Southeast seems to be taking off in terms of lacrosse growth. Do you see any SEC schools or more ACC teams making the leap into NCAA lacrosse? What do you hope for the future of the game in the region?
To me, it seems like the PAC-12 is really the conference closest to adding more teams. I would love to see Georgia Tech make the jump one day. They have a great club program run by Ken Lovic, and the location, on top of the academics, would make them a perfect fit to turn into a lacrosse powerhouse.
We asked our last interview subject, your pal Marcus Holman, to pick a Team USA athlete and ask them a question. Choosing you, Marcus wants you to name your top three books of all-time.
- The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
- The Lone Survivor – Marcus Luttrell
- Change your thoughts, change your life – Dr. Wayne Dyer
Please name the Team USA athlete we should interview…
DS23, Drew Snider!
What is the first question we should ask him or her?
What is one thing you hope to accomplish in life, not related to playing lacrosse?
Thanks for your time, Scott!