New season, new challenges for new-look Wings

Brodie Merrill and the Philadelphia Wings take on the Buffalo Bandits in the team's home opener Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center. (Philadelphia Wings photo)

Another year begins. The end of last season was all too familiar with another first-round exit to the eventual champion Rochester Knighthawks, for the second year in a row, in an eerily similar way.

In the “win now” climate of professional sport, the team experienced a great deal of change in the offseason, in hopes that we can take the next step. With change, comes a measure of uncertainty. We have ten new players on our roster this season, so coming together and getting everyone on the same page will be a challenge. We have to expect some growing pains. The nature of our team is much different than the others in the league.

Some players on our team are playing indoor lacrosse for the first time. It has been exciting to see guys like Garret Thul, Brian Megill, John Ranagan, and Mike Poppleton pick up the game so quickly. It is also great to see players like Joel White, Mike Manley, Chad Weidmaier, CJ Costabile, second-year players, take their games to another level. We have also added some veteran leadership in players like Tracey Kelusky and Ryan Ward, their experience and character will go a long way.

For some, playing professional lacrosse presents a unique challenge. In a world championship year, a player could theoretically play for four different teams in a calendar year (five if you are graduating from NCAA): The NLL, MLL, CLA, and the national team. The amount of games and the physical toll is one thing, but playing with a different set of teammates and four different coaches/philosophies can put a different kind of stress on you mentally and emotionally. I look at some other professional sports teams with envy. If you are a Philadelphia Eagle, you are a Philadelphia Eagle for 12 months of the year. There is continuity to your development and team chemistry.

So while much has been made of prominent Wings players/prospects electing to sit out the season (Rabil, Buchanan, Seibald, Mundorf, Crotty, Hartzell, Pannell, Durkin), if you look at each individual situation, you can understand to the desire to scale back. For me personally, I look at each opportunity to play as another chance to grow, get better, and more than anything, to be around my teammates and compete!

The key for our team as we start the season is to not be concerned with the players that are not in our locker room, but the players we do have in our locker room. So far, it has been a good start and we are hoping to build off a solid first game.

Look forward to seeing everyone at our home opener!