Welcome to a new blog and a new Philadelphia Wings season

Wings captain Brodie Merrill (Philadelphia Wings photo)

Philadelphia Lacrosse Fans,

I’m Brodie Merrill, captain of the Philadelphia Wings. I will be submitting blogs to Philly.com over the course of our season to provide “behind the scenes” insight from the perspective of a player. I also want to provide some suggestions to young lacrosse players that will hopefully help them in the development as a player.

It was an eventful off-season for the Wings, with a couple major trades and player acquisitions. Although we lost some very good players and teammates, we have made some significant improvements and clear transformation to become a more American based team. The Wings are fortunate enough to have access to the majority of the best American players in the game and it could really become a competitive advantage for our team.
Our level of fitness and athleticism really stood out to me in training camp. New players like Jordan Hall, Paul Rabil, Joel White, Kyle Hartzell, are among the top athletes in the game. The major challenge we face with the Wings is getting players with limited indoor experience, acclimated to the subtleties of the indoor game. I’m amazed at how quickly guys have picked it up. It makes for an exciting product on the floor when you see guys like Ned Crotty, Max Seibald, Drew Westervelt, Brendan Mundorf, Paul Rabil, Kevin Buchanan, some of the best field lacrosse players in the world, bring their unique skill set to the indoor game. The potential is enormous.

It is always an exciting time of the year, the beginning of a new NLL season. I think every team begins the year with a sense of optimism. For the Wings, having experienced a transformation, we approach the year with excitement, but also perhaps a little uncertainty. We got our first look at what the Wings will be this year and there were definitely some positive signs and lots of room for improvement.

We also had the opportunity to sit down as a team and discuss our team goals and reemphasize what a privilege it is to play for the Wings, an organization so rich in tradition. We discussed the importance of continuous improvement and the process of growing over the course of the season. Every team enters the season with aspirations of winning a championship (especially in the NLL where there is so much parity), but we wanted to really talk about specific things that will help us achieve our ultimate goal.

The floor was open and we heard a lot of positive and insightful feedback from different players. The messages were consistent and it is clear that we have a group that is committed to playing for each other.

I really believe my performance on the night of a game is the reflection of the preparation throughout the week. It makes me feel much more confident heading into a game when I know I put the necessary time into my preparation. It was a shorter week than a typical game week with training camp wrapping up on Sunday and opening night being on Friday. I’m a product of routine. I try not to stray too far from my routine. I like to establish a clear plan in place for the week and stick to the plan, making subtle adjustments throughout the year based on health and performance. The first three days of the game week are critical.

My routine heading into opening night was disrupted because I had to finally get my wisdom teeth removed on the Monday. I was naïve enough to think that I would still be able to get a workout in after my procedure. This was not the case! I was in a fair amount of pain and would have to postpone my training until Tuesday. This wasn’t such a bad thing considering we had a pretty intense weekend of practice and my body could use some additional rest.

I generally like to do an active rest, like yoga, or some other light activity, to flush out the soreness from the game or practice prior. There are not many days where I do nothing. If I do, I usually feel even tighter. It is a delicate balance, because rest is important, especially over the course of the entire season. The goal is to feel at your best come game time.
I took advantage of an early free day to get a hard workout in, which consists of dynamic movement based lifting, as well as some footwork. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to work out with the students at The Hill Academy and Coach Dan Noble. I also like to incorporate Reebok Crossfit in my early workout routine as it simulates the pace and intensity of a game. I like to give my body a two day window prior to the game to actively rest and focus more on lacrosse specific training, ie, shooting and stick work.

In standard NLL fashion, my flight to Philadelphia from my home in Toronto was delayed and my travel buddies (Brandon Miller and Kevin Ross) missed our practice the night prior to the game. I was a little frustrated, because I really wanted to use that practice to make any last minute adjustments. I chose not to over think it and let it become a distraction. With the amount of travel we have in the NLL, you have to learn to roll with the punches!

Kevin Crowley, Brandon Miller, Paul Rabil, and I were up early on game day to make a quick appearance on the CBS morning show. It was light and fun and great exposure for the Wings in Philadelphia. The key for this franchise to become more relevant in this city is to starting winning again on a consistent basis. We took a positive first step in beating a solid Buffalo Bandits team. Hopefully we can continue to build some momentum heading into our game against Toronto this weekend. This early in the season, we are more concerned with the process of getting better, rather than just the result.

On a lighter note, our team has adopted a kangaroo court system, where players can get fined for various things like: hitting our goalie in the head in practice or warm-up, letting a jersey hit the floor, bad tweets, being late to meeting, etc. The disciplinary panel will consist of an American, a Canadian, a rookie, a veteran, and a treasurer. We have nominated Brett Manney (American), Jordan Hall (Canadian), Mike Manley (rookie), Brandon Miller (veteran), and Jeff Reynolds, whose full time job is a financial advisor, will be the treasurer.

On behalf of the Wings players, I want to thank you for your continued support. We feel like we have a team that you can be proud of and a team that will represent the Philadelphia Lacrosse Community the right way. If you are a young lacrosse player, I encourage you to come out to some games and look for things that you may be able to emulate and incorporate into your own game.

Stay tuned for my weekly blog posts. I look forward to keeping you updated on team happenings, and giving player tips and suggestions.