HAMBURG, Germany- Forget the schnitzel, lederhosen, and warm beer; the HTHC Hamburg Warriors were armored with lacrosse sticks as they embarked on a 10-day U.S. training tour two weeks ago. Starting in Boston, the two-time Women's German National Champions made their way down the East coast to D.C. with an itinerary that included guest coaches, scrimmages, and inter-squad practice sessions with DI universities.
The interactive tour style proved very successful because it isn't quite enough to just show up, play a team, and try to learn something during the 60 minutes on the field. We wanted the opportunity to take away specific knowledge and insight rather than try to remember our mistakes from the games and self-correct.
Personalized guest coaching sessions were particularly important for the Warriors' development. The lineup included Georgetown Head Coach Ricki Fried, Drexel Head Coach Anna Marie Vesco, and the duo of Naval Academy's Associate Head Coach and Assistant Allison, Valentino and Kelly Coppedge. Offensive strategies, midfield transition, man-down defense, and stickwork were among the concepts covered by these experienced trainers.
Also highlighted on the tour were sessions in which the Warriors were able to practice side-by-side with teams and experience firsthand the speed, intensity, and expectation of a DI program.
Boston University was our first stop and the Top 20 ranked Terriers were certainly impressive. Competitive ladder drills to cage, an aggressive defense, and quick ball movement marked the high level of play and set the standard for what was to come. Liz Robertshaw was a great head coach to start the trip, with a warm welcome and contagious enthusiasm for the game.
On day two, we were hosted by Head Coach Bowen Holden and Boston College. Starting off with an advanced stickwork routine, we progressed through settled attack, and ended with a scrimmage. Once again, the German players were amazed by the skill and precision. They caught on quickly despite the jet lag and unexpected heat for late September.
Next, the team traveled (in no less than four minivans) to Providence, Rhode Island where we faced Brown University. It was a great opportunity to implement what we'd learned the previous two days. Although the scoreboard showed a loss, the scrimmage was very successful for the Warriors. After a short break, we then mixed the teams and played another mini-game with the Bears. Playing with these collegiate athletes again reinforced how the game has developed and advanced. Afterwards, Head Coach Keely McDonald organized a small reception for us before we hit the town.
Then the fun began. Two days off shopping in New York City and, of course, a much coveted stay near the Broadway Junction train station in Brooklyn. Needless to say the safety rating of about negative ten was not featured on the hotel's website, but we survived and traveled to Washington, DC via Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Vesco and Fried coached respectively on day seven and eight. The weather was hot and the instruction was hotter. The Warriors thrived on the advice given and the techniques demonstrated on these two days. We even came back for more to see Georgetown's practice and game against George Mason the following day.
Next on the agenda was my old stomping ground, and home of the 2005 Women's World Championship, Annapolis, Maryland and the United States Naval Academy. Some of the players had already seen the breathtaking venue, with the playing fields backing up to the Bay, but others were mesmerized.
After a short instructional session with Valentino and Coppedge, we had a full length scrimmage against the up-and-coming Navy squad. Early on, we were goal for goal, but the Midshipmen pulled away and finished strong in the first half. Their speed, endurance, and 1v1's to cage dominated throughout, but the Warriors picked it up defensively and ended the game with some key turnovers, transition plays, and goals, one of which came just before the last whistle.
The last day of the tour was fun, casual, full of lacrosse, and lots of laughs. As fate would have it, Alumni Weekend at American University was scheduled during our touring dates and the Warriors were invited to participate in a 7v7 tournament. The short sided games were mixed, competitive, and hilarious at times. Current AU players, Alum (myself included), and Warriors played as both friends and foes. AU Head Coach Katie Woods and the parents set up a huge tailgate while Athletic Director, Keith Gill, personally thanked everyone for coming.
The trip tested our ability to adapt, learn, and implement skills in a fast-pace lacrosse environment. The bar has been set higher for our club and for German lacrosse as a whole if we want to truly compete with the international powerhouses: Australia, U.S., England, Canada, and the up-and-coming Japan.
We encourage everyone to explore the various opportunities to coach and/or play lacrosse abroad. National teams and clubs throughout Europe are currently looking to fill Head and Assistant coaching positions. The US, in particular, has a surplus of talented players and potential coaches who do not have a chance to pursue similar opportunities domestically because collegiate and national team coaching positions are already filled. For graduating college seniors, international positions are excellent vehicles to fund both living and traveling abroad while simultaneously staying involved with the sport you love.
For more information about the tour and/or international lacrosse opportunities, please email me at email@example.com.
October 7, 2007
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