Editor’s Note: For the first time, LaxAllStars.com will had three of our members on the ground in Radotin for the Ales Hrebesky Memorial 2018 to give you the most in-depth coverage and behind the scenes views of the week. Thanks to the support of MaxLax, the world leader in box lacrosse gear for goalies and players, we’ve be shown off the AHM like never before! Make sure you peep the new MaxLax player gloves – super protective, super comfortable, old school inspired beauties!
The 2018 Ales Hrebesky Memorial.
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To describe such a thing, I’ve been trying to be perfect. Every word had to be perfect, that’s what the AHM deserves. How can I put this word and that word together, in the particular order that is appropriate to give the due credit to the tournament?
I don’t think it really can be done. I tried last year, as well as the year before, and even the year previous. Justin Meyer, our World Championships sportswriter, new to lacrosse tried this year. If you go back through the Lacrosse All Stars archives I’m sure you’ll find half a dozen from Connor alone. All of them trying to convey exactly just how we feel about that long weekend in Prague.
I don’t think I’ll try this year. I won’t try to force the intangible moments and feelings through the cookie-cutter of the English language. It doesn’t work. If you think that this is just an elaborate cop-out and I don’t really know what I’m talking about, maybe you’re right. Maybe you haven’t been to the AHM and you really should get on that.
All I have to say this year, is thank you. Thank you one thousand times over. To whom? To whom is this blanket thank you projected towards? I suppose I should be more specific.
To the people of Radotin…
Thank you. Thank you for the community that puts the world on pause for one week every year. Thank you for welcoming hundreds of players and families from all over the world, and treating us as your friends, neighbors, and family. Without your tolerance and guidance, there would most likely be some Jagged Mountain guys still riding the trains trying to figure out where the games are. Thank you for pointing us in the right direction, for feeding us, and for building the environment that makes this gathering so much more than just a lacrosse tournament.
To the KIDS!
You guys are awesome. Players who have dreamed of glory under the lights, signing autographs, and taking pictures with their biggest fans travel from across the ocean to realize those dreams in a small town on the outskirts of Prague. Fist-bumps and high-fives are twice as cool for us as they are for you. Your dreams of winning championships and scoring goals in front of sold-out stadiums – those were our dreams when we were wearing uniforms and shorts that draped over us like blankets too. What makes us happiest is knowing that we’ll be watching you scoring those goals, because we’ll be standing in those sold-out stadiums! Keep playing – you have thousands of fans from all over the world!
To the tournament…
To the teenage boys in yellow vests opening the penalty boxes, picking up trash, and doing the myriad of other tasks you’re given. To the girls in the tower running the statistics and the clocks, and the small army of van drivers who first welcomed us at the airport. THANK YOU. Without these things, it simply wouldn’t be the same. To the security guys who watch the door to the clubhouse, the girls who help selling tickets and putting wristbands on, and to the single greatest lacrosse warmup DJ in the Czech Republic, Lukas – thank you, guys!
To Sokolovna Restaurace…
Thank you for feeding a thousand hungry tummies. I personally have a special appreciation for the level of patience you’re able to show. The dedication to be there from sun up to sun down is no easy feat, and I hope you’ll enjoy some time to relax a little bit now that the annual storm has passed. A very special note to the man on the grill, who caters to his flock of pork-steaks and cheeses. I can still smell that grill pit. Without that small detail of waiting in line for a beer and a bite, all the while watching your buddies smash each other into the boards not twenty feet away – it wouldn’t be the same without you guys.
To the players, the teams, and the one or two guys on the squad who make it happen…
Thanks for showing up. Honestly. You could use your time and money and attention other places, and those people you’d interact with, whether they be friend or family, would appreciate that time. You travel from far and wide to spend your hard earned dollar… to get slammed on the ground and to run your ass off. The player at the Ales Hrebesky Memorial is cut from a different cloth. The dollar figure could either pay rent or it could be spent on a couple of runs with his best friends in the heart of Europe. Easy choice.
To organize you fools really isn’t HARD… but it isn’t easy. Minutes a day turn into hours a week, and it really does add up. I’m coming off of this year, personally having a heavy hand in organizing the Glasgow Clydesiders, the Non-Olympic Athletes from Everywhere, as well as playing a minor managerial role in prepping Scotland’s first box team for E-Box… and it really is a lot. Changing itineraries, uniforms, your goalie’s gear doesn’t show up at the airport until three hours before the game. Running a team is a lot, and I appreciate the heads of each of your teams for doing what they do.
Screw you. Kidding! Kinda! The officiating has been on a steady rise over the five years I’ve been there. Officials wear the right uniform, they aren’t coming over to ref right after they chuck off their gear from the last game, and most importantly they conduct themselves like this is a job. Certainly, there’s fun to be had, but you take your role seriously, as well as the ideal of ever-improving yourselves in those dorky striped shirts. You made mistakes, and so did every single player. The same thanks that goes to the player goes to you, but twice more – thanks for showing up. It’s a special brand of weirdo that willingly shows up knowing someone will point some derogatory comment your way every 2-5 minutes.
To MaxLax and Uncommon Fit…
Thank you to both of you. Our partnerships on personal and professional levels have made so much possible. It’s more than just ordering a set of goalie pads or some uniforms. I’m able to do meaningful business with FRIENDS. It isn’t like ordering something off the internet anonymously. I want to know what Marty O’Neil has been up to and where his most recent travels have taken him. I want to say congrats to Jamie Plunkett on his wedding and goodluck with the birth of his first child. The community feel is why I’ve elected to work with (I don’t work FOR anyone) Lacrosse All Stars. That same level is why working with MaxLax and Uncommon Fit have been so impactful in the box lacrosse movement in Europe and beyond. Thanks for partnering with us and we’ll be speaking soon!
To the Haylett Family…
Kristina, Wayne, Sofi, Dan and Max! Thank you for opening your home to me and my motley crew. I/we have come home at all hours of the night TRYING not to wake you guys up, and from anyone who’s crashed a night or two or two weeks, thank you for your hospitality. I look forward to getting back to Radotin soon and having another dinner with my Czech family. Please make sure that the trash gets picked up promptly so that there will be plenty of room for Dan in the bin.
To old friends coming out to see what the AHM is all about…
High School teammates. My own brother. The kid who grew up across the street who my parents “forced” to play lacrosse. My teammate in Australia turned housemate/coworker/ski buddy in Utah and Hong Kong teammate. Teddy Croucher and Alex Bush hadn’t ever played a minute of box in their lives. Mediocre high school players who didn’t pan out in college. Lil brother Eric takes every bizarre idea of mine with nine pounds of salt. I’ve gotten Andrew Somps in trouble on the field, at the bar, on top of cliffs, and with our employers more times than I can count. For these specific four guys to come over is a testament to the fact that if you listen to enough of my bad ideas, there will eventually be one good one and it’s all worth it. Thanks for coming over, I’ll see you all soon.
If you’re traveling, there will be complications. If you go to the mailbox there could be complications. When 20+ guys fly in a tin can thousands of miles and are set loose in a country where they’re relatively unfamiliar, there will be complications. No one diffuses complications like Ondrej Mika.
Ondrej is the tireless soul who we can all thank for the Ales Hrebesky Memorial. Without him, there would still be a tournament, but it wouldn’t be the experience that we all share today. The most minute detail – Ondrej is on it. The joke of him living in his office isn’t much of a joke at all. He’s the first one there. He’s the last to leave. With all the fools doing all the foolish things, he’s never anything but kind, courteous, and helpful to a thousand of his personal guests.
I changed my rosters, altered rooming assignments, made special requests for floor time, had my goalie’s equipment not show up, and a slew of other hiccups. Ondrej never even flinched. I lost my passport my first trip out to the AHM five years ago. Ondrej didn’t hold my hand through the whole thing – he gave me a map pointing to the American embassy and wrote his phone number down if I needed any help. That’s hospitality.
We all try to say it on the way out the gate, on our way into the airport, or climbing into a van as you see us off, Ondrej. We mean it, from the bottom of our hearts. From the greater WORLD lacrosse family, thank YOU, Ondrej for the countless hours you spend making the world a better place.
See you next year!
I hope you had the time of your life this year for the 25th annual holding of the Ales Hrebesky Memorial. If you didn’t, it’s because you weren’t there, and that either is or is not your fault. It’s a busy time of year in the world of lacrosse. Maybe you’re fortunate enough to still be playing. Hopefully you’ve decided to give back, and now you’re coaching youth or refereeing games.
If you can make it, make it. If money is an issue, figure out the issue. I know one guy who stopped drinking in Canada because if he simply didn’t go to the bars, it meant he could fly to Prague (where beer is considerably cheaper). Hometown teammate Ted is giving back to the game in exchange for a couple dollars refereeing, and even working part-time is going to give Ted way more than enough cash to come back over to Prague.
It’s the greatest show on Earth. The world could take notes at the AHM on how humanity is supposed to interact with one another.
See you in Prague…