By: Emily Collins
The amount of talent in the lacrosse community seems to be never-ending. Phenomenal players from top-notch schools are all currently vying for a spot on one of the nine professional MLL teams. This means they are, quite literally, all competing against the best of the best.
With the focus on the 2017 MLL Collegiate Draft, we spoke to a few former rookies to gain some perspective on what to expect and hear their tips for the rising players.
Making his MLL debut for the Charlotte Hounds, Ryan Brown came onto the team not knowing any of his new teammates. Already accustomed to having built-in friends and workout buddies as teammates at John Hopkins, Brown shared that it was a culture shock at first and took some time to adjust. “It’s a unique dynamic in MLL – you only see the guys Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and then you don’t see them until the next week,” says Brown. “It took a little bit of time to build relationships and chemistry; getting to know the guys, how they play, what they like to do has helped a lot.”
Training without teammates and outside of a college facility is challenging – there becomes a heightened sense of personal accountability for the amount of work you put in. Gaining a sense of discipline is key, according to Boston Cannons defenseman Brandon Mullins. “In school you have all your buddies, you have top-notch facilities,” says Mullins, of Syracuse University, “And now I’m kind of on my own where I don’t always have someone to work out with, I’m at the rec-center just trying to do my thing… It takes a higher level of discipline when you’re on your own.”
With great discipline, comes great rewards – the teammates and experiences in MLL seem to be worth the work. Ryan Tucker of the Chesapeake Bayhawks does nothing but rave about how invaluable his experiences with the players and coaches have been at the professional level. “It’s funny, you have the notion just being a competitor and you don’t realize that they’re such amazing guys and such genuine people,” says Tucker.
Always having professional lacrosse as a goal, Brown had to adjust his style and technical skills to flow with the way an MLL game is played. Playing with stronger, faster, and wiser players required him to modify some strategies. Being aware of this change for himself, as a player, he was able to give us some predictions on who he thinks will be successful at the professional level. He predicts Matt Rambo, of University of Maryland, and Sergio Salcido, of Syracuse University, will both have a strong skill set for MLL.
Zack Currier, of Princeton University, is the top-rated pick in Brown’s mind. “He’ll do well because of his style of play, up and down kind of player, in between the lines and also plays offense. Whoever he gets picked up by is lucky, because he’ll be an absolute menace.”
To be successful at the professional level, you must not only amplify your skill and discipline level, but you also need to enjoy the game. With the change of pace and increase of intensity in MLL compared to the collegiate level, players must fully commit to the game. Matthew Dunn of the Rochester Rattlers gave his pro-tip for upcoming players entering the draft: “The coaches want to know that you’re interested, they want you to want to play. Just make sure you enjoy the game and show off your hard work.”
Graduating college players reach a slight state of depression when leaving the sport. However, lacrosse players are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to continue playing at the professional level for as long as their bodies will physically let them. Although the transition seems challenging, the reward of getting to play the game overrides any challenge.
The transition to the pros starts in earnest at the 2017 MLL Collegiate Draft on Sunday, May 28 at Toby Keith's Bar and Grill in Foxboro, Mass., running in conjunction with the NCAA Championships. The draft is open to fans who want to celebrate their favorite college player’s career milestone.