Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
My August was been exhausting, but it was time well spent and I hope yours was too. There have been some BIG developments along my journey into the world of coaching and some of them on wheels so reach out, jump in, say hi, and let’s get caught up.
Like my new digs pictured above?
I decided to steal a page out of Leonardo da Vinci’s book when I chose how to live on the east coast of Florida. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” he said.
I figured out how to keep things simple to stay focused on the coaching task at hand. Sophistication – I’m taking to another level. Those two steps fold out when the door opens so I don’t have to jump to the ground and risk injury on the way out to work in the morning.
At this point on my journey I only need enough sophistication to lead the Dolphins down the path of greatness. Head Coach John Galloway and I defined and refined our goals for the team over the last month and we’re excited to get started on our plan of action. As you would imagine so is our team.
I didn’t move into a “Lax-Bro Chateau” on wheels to live someplace spectacular. I moved into a one bedroom, one stovetop, one steering wheel recreational vehicle 10 miles east of campus in Hanna Park in order to accomplish something spectacular. I’m hoping that living in the solitude of a beautiful 500-acre coastal hammock on the Atlantic coast will encourage me to embrace this journey through all the highs and lows. Simplicity.
I would like to accomplish something as special as the Denver Outlaws who just won two championships in three years. The 2016 Major Lacrosse League final deserves its own “30 for 30” and I’d like to produce it myself. We could have the Rock play Scott Rodgers but I don’t think he’s big enough.
We saw the Outlaws 8 game winning streak down the stretch when Captain Matt Bocklett said “we talked about going 1-0 every weekend,” we saw John Grant Jr.’s record breaking 10 goal semi-final to dethrone the 2015 championship New York Lizards, we sat through a one hour and thirty seven minute rain delay in the second quarter of the final with the Outlaws trailing 9-3, and we were treated to one of the most exciting comebacks and final moment finishes I’ve ever witnessed in the sport of lacrosse.
We also saw this fellow New Yorker, former New York Lizard and MLL champion, win his second consecutive MLL championship in a row. If you don’t know Mike Skudin, Outlaws defender #92 from the barrier island of Long Beach pictured below with Mike Bocklett, you will in a minute.
Me: Mike what on earth did you do in that locker room for an hour and a half down 9-3 against the Machine who had just taken it to the reigning champ Lizards?
Mike Skudin: Felt like forever but we kept it relaxed. We ate a lotta Power Bars and beef jerky.
Me: Oh is beef jerky good for a nervous stomach?
Mike Skudin: Nervous? I said we were relaxed.
Me: Relaxed? What were you thinking when you had to go back out down by six and cover John Grant Jr. who just poured in 10 goals the week before?
Mike Skudin: Don’t let him do it again.
It clicked to me. Simple plans work. Simple wins. Simplicity!
The Outlaws came away with the 2016 championship because they stuck to the game plan that got them through their final 8 games unscathed. They played their own brand of lacrosse and they didn’t dwell on their opponent or intra-game outcomes. The 2016 Outlaws perfected the art of the lacrosse game to the point that over the contests entire span their maximum effort, their skill and their grit should prevail over the competition.
Skudin and the entire Outlaws roster were committed to their mission long before they squared off against the Ohio Machine on August 20th in Kennesaw, Georgia for the title. In their minds, that was just another night on the field playing their game. Because of the highs and lows and struggles they had been through they were able to mount a ferocious comeback with the same straight face I got from Mike Skudin when he said “who was nervous?”
I can tell you for certain – they were not nervous.
The Ohio Machine roster can fill a lacrosse Field of Dreams twice over. It includes John Grant Jr., Marcus Holman, Steele Stanwick, Kyle Harrison, Peter Baum, “Big Rig” Scott Rodgers in goal and Tommy Schreiber – MLL’s 2016 MVP at midfield. Coach J.G. and I would need a movie screen sized white board, five sets of erasable markers and two sets of orange cones to begin figuring out how to stop this team. And that’s just on paper.
Early on the Machine took it to the Outlaws. There was a fast break behind-the-back pass from Marcus Holman – to Steele Stanwick – to defensive midfielder Brian Karalunas for his first goal of the season that gave the Machine a 6-2 lead early in the first quarter that made you feel bad there were three full quarters left. Then I checked my pity for Denver at the door and remembered that uphill battles are a walk in the park for this team.
Mike reminded me, “After a 2-6 start we came together as a team and led by our awesome Captains, we made a pact that we weren’t going to lose another game. And we did that. We knew we had the skill and the talent, we just needed to do the little things and we were going to be fine. Refuse to lose.”
(Notes to self: keep it simple, refuse to lose, more beef jerky)
The biggest lead was 14-7 Machine in the second quarter and it was looking bleak again for Denver. Then it was Captain Drew Snider, Kavanagh, Downing, Berg, and game MVP Eric Law for an 8-1 third quarter that went straight to the record books. That 7 goal deficit was the largest quarterly goal differential in the league’s history and we still had entire quarter of lacrosse left to play.
Last year Skudin wore #92 in black and green for the New York Lizards and anchored the 2015 MLL championship defense. He’d already been part of a team that refused to lose the big game so the trade was a simple change of jerseys for him. In April he was traded to Denver and the lean mean #92 made himself comfortable in the defensive line up between #33 B.J. Grill and #7, one of the three Captains – Matt Bocklett.
“He’s the heart, the soul and everything in between for this team. He loves the sport and he loves his teammates. From the day I got out to Denver, Matt was there treating me like one of the guys.”
Mike weathered the professional storm of a trade and the fans who weathered the storm in Kennesaw were treated to a game knotted at 17 with less than a minute left. At that point both teams were sacrificing life and limb for every slippery possession.
In the end, this historic championship game was decided with 13 seconds left in regulation on a pass from Captain Jeremy Sieverts to Eric Law on the crease for the quick-stick win. I love that Eric Law hadn’t tallied a point in first half of the game and then he came alive with 4 goals, 3 assists and the game winner. That’s the kind of stuff champions are made of.
Mike told me more about what a championship organization is made of and wore his appreciation on his sleeve:
“To win it with New York and then get the opportunity to come out to Denver and win one is awesome. I thank our General Manager Tony Seaman for bringing me to this team and flying me out every weekend. He gave me an opportunity and it worked out. From the day I landed in Denver through the night of the championship, everyone involved has been nothing but professional. From Big Mac, our president, to Scotty Mo everyone was awesome. The Outlaw organization is a first class organization.“
I knew the Outlaws are top class but it’s still good to hear a consistent message about one of the marquee teams in the league. The clock was ticking on our conversation and I needed a few more answers we went separate ways.
I asked Mike who the spiritual leader of the Outlaws is:
“The spiritual leader is JoJo Wardrummer. He’s there for every game leading us out on his big drum. JoJo being there every time for us sort of has a compounding effect on our confidence.“
One more because I know you gotta go – First Family of Major League Lacrosse – Bocklett’s or Powell’s?
I love the Bocklett’s but I go with the Powell’s. All three of you guys were unbelievable players. You really set a high bar for kids coming into this sport. So thanks Casey…I gotta hop.
Mike – congratulations. Thank you for sharing all this and choosing the right first family of lacrosse!
To go over my notes before signing off: “keep it simple, refuse to lose, beef jerky, don’t let him score 10 goals again…Simplicity!”
To go over a great event before I sing off: We will be hosting our SECOND ANNUAL SPEED LACROSSE TOURNAMENT on Saturday, September 17th at Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota Florida. Click here to sign up. Come down and join us for what is going to be a tremendous weekend of SPEED LACROSSE on the beach.
I’ll touch base again mid-month, right before we begin the festivities. Until then, keep it simple! Simplicity is a thing of beauty.
in all things,
the supreme excellence
– Henry Wadsworth Twosletter