Monday, February 8, 2016

NLL road trips can be full of awkward moments

Professional lacrosse is a pretty small community. At one time or another, players from opposing teams have crossed paths before in their career.

NLL road trips can be full of awkward moments

Wings captain Brodie Merrill. (Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Wings)
Wings captain Brodie Merrill. (Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Wings)

Monday mornings after back-to-back games on the weekend are tough. 

It's the travel combined with the mental and physical toll on the body in a short amount of time.  For me it takes a couple of days to start feeling like myself again.  The day after our home-and-home series with Minnesota in January was definitely easier after salvaging a split on the weekend.  Hopefully we can build off some positive things we accomplished during the win. 

What may be interesting to hear, as an outsider looking into the NLL, is the amount of time two opposing teams spend in close proximity on game weekends.  I’m pretty certain this is unique to the NLL.  In most cases the home and away teams will stay in the same hotel.  With a large number of players commuting from outside their home market, the home team will stay at a hotel even before hosting another team.

During these trips there tends to be a lot of the awkward banter, waiting for the elevator, eating breakfast two tables next to a group of opposing players.  Professional lacrosse is a pretty small community.  At one time or another, players from opposing teams have crossed paths before in their career. There are a lot of personal and mutual connections from team to team.  One would think that would make things more comfortable, but it doesn’t eliminate all of the strange feelings. One team in the league has a policy that forbids players to talk with members of another team.  To be honest, I would prefer it that way. Both teams have the desire to win and neither team wants to talk with each other until the weekend is over.

Here is how the last series against Minnesota played out.

We had our first game in Philadelphia on Saturday, January 18 at Noon. After a hard fought loss, we received treatment from the training staff, showered, packed our bags, and headed to the airport. When we arrived at the airport, the members of the Minnesota Swarm were checking in right before us. It was a commercial flight so all of the players were randomly scattered throughout the plane. 

Our head coach, Blane Harrison, was sandwiched between two Swarm players. It was pretty strange to experience. It had that dysfunctional family Christmas dinner vibe to it. We finally arrived at the Minnesota airport and both teams were waiting to pick up their baggage—the Swarm, noticeably jubilant after a win, and the Wings, grumpy, bitter, impatiently waiting to grab luggage and go.  After a win, travel becomes so much easier. Issues such as delays, lost baggage, and ground transportation are the least of your worries. After a loss, the mood and the patience levels are much different.

Overall, there were extreme highs and lows over the course of the last game-playing weekend in January.  One nice thing about back-to-back weekends is you get to spend a lot of quality time with teammates.  For a team with a lot of new faces, it may be just what the doctor ordered.

Also happening the weekend of our series against Minnesota was my former coach at Georgetown, Dave Urick, getting inducted into the Georgetown Hall of Fame. It’s funny, I’m 32 years old, over nine years removed from playing for Coach Urick, but the messages that he conveyed to my teammates and I, stick with me today and help me during adverse situations.  He is considered one of the top college lacrosse coaches of all time and is one of the most humble and genuine people that I know.  I was fortunate to play for him.  He would be quick to credit others for his successes, but in simple terms, he built the program at Georgetown Lacrosse.  Thanks Coach U!

Philadelphia Wings
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About this blog
Wingin' It is the place for up-to-the-minute Wings coverage from Brodie Merrill of the Philadelphia Wings.

As the Philadelphia Wings' captain, Merrill is widely regarded as one of the top players in the NLL and was recently named Best Player in the World by Inside Lacrosse and named NLL Transition Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010. Last season, Merrill was named an NLL All-Star.

Brodie Merrill Philadelphia Wings
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