St Louis training camp
The training camp in St Louis was like no other trip I've been on before. We were very fortunate to have been hosted by Andrew ‘Chip’ Nadin who helped organize a lot of this tour which wouldn't be possible without him. Andrew was a Mellor lad who went to Sheffield University and moved to St Louis a few years ago for work. Special mention to his friend Eric Stisser who works for the St Louis Blues NHL team who used his connections to make this tour a memorable affair. We were hosted at the MICD’s Highschool which allowed us to play 3 scrimmage games against a local all star team consisting of D1 and D2 talent in addition to hosting a kids camp.
The first day of the tour we had an early wake up with a stretch and breakfast, we made our way to training with the idea of acclimatizing for tackling the Alabama heat. Sixes training is tough when you only have 12 players but our tour mascot King Arthur Nadin (Chips son) joined us to help our training and also hopefully give him an experience of a lifetime. Arthur is 14 the same age I was when I got to witness my brother represent England in the world championships in 2010 and that had a long lasting effect on me motivating me to work harder in order to pursue my dream of representing my country, so I'm hoping this experience offered the same to him.
After training on the first day which was light but the 35 degrees made it a lot harder than it had to be, we were offered the chance of watching MLB team St Louis Cardinals in which we had a great time and I got to meet the mascot Fredbird and get a picture with him. The next day would see the first of our 3 games against the St Louis All stars. This team were a great group of players and gave us a tough matchup and exactly what we needed before the tournament. We won the first 2 games convincingly with us taking a 7-0 lead early in the first game. The third and final game saw our toughest challenge with us losing in overtime but many lessons learned from this and we came out stronger because of it. In addition to the games we were also offered an opportunity to introduce sixes Lacrosse to the children on St Louis by running a kids camp which was a great experience for all involved.
Game 1: 21-13 W
Game 2: 24-14 W
Game 3: 13-14 L OT
The World games
The world games was like no other tournament I've been to. Going to breakfast on the first day we were surrounded by athletes from all over the world playing many different sports, some I ignorantly hadn't heard of. I'm not the best at remembering games I've played in so I won't be giving a run down of each game here just a few points that spring out to me. All male lacrosse players were placed in the same dorms of residence so it was normal seeing your opposition each day. Which for me put more importance on the Australia game, especially after losing to them by 1 goal in the 2018 worlds. We had 2 light training sessions before the first game and a lot of rest and recovery time. GB v Australia was the first game of the tournament and we wanted to come out with a bang as this would dictate where we would be for the rest of the tournament. Despite being down for the entire game we came back to win 13 -11 after a big last quarter. This made bumping into the Aussies everyday at the lifts a lot easier to deal with. The next game we would face USA which we came out of the blocks firing hoping to cause an upset. We managed to keep the scores level at 4-4 at half time, but USA managed to pull away in the third but the signs were there to be able to do well in this tournament. The third game saw us face Germany who we have played a few times in Europe throughout the year, so we were well clued up on our scout report and came away with a convincing win. We also watched all of the games on this day and saw Japan upset the Haundenosaunee which meant we would be playing Japan should we both lose our semi final games. The semi final saw us face Canada who didn't score less than 20 goals all tournament. We started well sticking to our game plan and finished the 1st quarter at 6-2. Canada sussed out our plan and ended up beating us convincingly but we showed moments of great lacrosse against some of the best players in the World. We would face Japan in the Bronze medal game who seemed to get better as the tournament went on and getting good results against good teams. We knew this wouldn’t be an easy game and Japan came out firing winning 11-10 at the half. We clawed back the result to head to overtime but we were sadly beaten by a strong Japan side. Heartbreak for our boys and it’s a result that will stick with me for the rest of my life. The experience of this tournament was incredible for the sport of lacrosse and I believe only positives will come out of it, despite a few tweets from the keyboard warriors I think sixes was generally accepted as an entertaining spectacle.
Australia: 13-11 W
USA: 9-17 L
Germany: 22-10 W
Canada: 11-22 L
Japan: 18-19 L OT
I've always felt that as an England team on tour we were well bonded. Everyone knows each other and has played with each other for a number of years. With us all geographically located close to each other it means we can hold regular training with the full squad compared to other nationals. For the Great Britain team however it was a different story. Even though I knew the entire team I was away for most of the 9 month journey leading up to this tournament and it felt like I was jumping on a moving train with how close knit this group had become. On tour it was such a nice family environment with a lack of negativity and everyone supporting each other on the pitch and making each other laugh off of it. Traveling with 12 players and 4 support staff is such a massive difference compared to the usual 23 players and 10 support staff, it meant we had to be a lot more self sufficient in terms of doing our laundry, ensuring we had food for out of meal times and also taking care of our bodies better due to having only one physio. Our social media was also mainly player led with a few people creating content for the British Lacrosse instagram page as well as Luke Mills providing a Northern Soul Sportswear takeover and myself doing an at the face takeover. We filmed content including teammates, post game interviews and welcome to our crib.
What do i think the future for sixes holds?
I personally believe that sixes holds some positivity for our sport in terms of advertisement. For the basic reason it is easy to understand from a general sports fan point of view. There's high scoring games and the play is up and down so for a spectator it's perfect. Especially seeing Jeff Teat score a diving 1 handed btb and Ryan Hunns scoring an outside one handed righty ripper. From a personal point of view I would like to see Lacrosse in the Olympics in my playing career for the main reason I have sacrificed a lot in life and have spent a lot of money to represent my country and i believe the Olympics are the pinnacle for any athlete.
What potential rule changes do i think we'll encounter? Personally after what I experienced the contact rule is definitely going to be more lenient, it felt like leading up to the tournament we were playing minimal contact lacrosse but in the tournament it was like a normal world championships with pretty much full contact minus take outs. The next rule change I see will be a crease dive rule similar to NCAA where the scorer can't land in the goalies arc, i believe this will be for safety. As a goalie i felt very exposed and referees seemed to not call any contact on the goalies. Also it became too easy to score especially for those who are experienced in box Lacrosse. Finally I think the rule committee will be dumb not to introduce a 2 point arc. Mainly because it will be a better spectacle for Lacrosse fans by making games more exciting. In some cases games could be lost in the first quarter, this will encourage teams to shoot from further out. It will also prevent teams from killing time in the dying seconds of a game knowing they could possibly concede 2.
Finally a big question asked was the ‘Two Goalie’ debate. As many saw, USA backup goalie Adam Ghitelman only played 16 minutes in the cage and was sporting a short stick for the rest of the tournament. Many have asked me if I see the point in taking 2 goalies and for this specific tournament I say yes. This is because for British lacrosse I see me and Hal having similar abilities and offering different assets to our team. The main reason I'd say yes to 2 was the Alabama heat was ridiculous, in the games where I played a full game I could feel my concentration going into the third quarter and a new goalie ensured a fresh mind was leading from the back. So maybe a cooler tournament could see teams adopt 1 goalie? I also believe having an outfielder who is a competent goalie is a better idea than the other way round as that can really add a positive dynamic to the team. Because realistically a goalie isn't expected to save the shot due to how close the shots are coming from. Which is why I love playing sixes because a save is so huge and I personally feel there's no pressure on the goalie.
From a personal point of view I found hydration to be the major thing this entire tour, battling 35 degrees plus and playing sport with humidity is obscene. Thankfully sixes games are shorter in comparison so we weren't out in the sun as much compared to a normal field game. Hydration for me consisted of my 2.2 liter kettlebell of a water bottle and sachets of liquid iv/diuralite 4 times a day, in particular pre and post game as well as overnight.
I'm still unsure on what the ideal sixes player looks like. Canada basically played like it was a game of box and damaged every team they played against by scoring 20 plus goals. A sixes player definitely has to be able to go both ways and mainly hit the target when shooting. In addition the level of fitness is incredible compared to field as the play is a lot quicker and there's a lack of depth for each position. But I think this tournament was the start of something that could be amazing for all lacrosse players and sports fans.