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Commissioner's Blog
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
What's that Noise Coming out of the East?

For much of the GCLA's early history, its eastern shoulder was at least the equal to its western. While Houston-Metro anchored the west and started its spin-offs close in, the east was, well, a beast. With Metro, New Orleans was the GCLA's co-founder but it was not alone in its neck of the woods. Tulane was there also.

For a time, NOLC and Tulane were just as big a threats to capture GCLA honors as anyone. Tulane won the GCLA title in both 1996 and 2000, while NOLC was GCLA Finalists in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2002. Joining them were the off-again, on-again likes of Loyola, Jackson, Spring Hill, LSU, and a few others. It was quite an interesting ride!

Fast forward to today......LSU and Tulane seem to have found their home in the Lone Star Alliance of the MCLA. Jackson is long gone, as is Loyola. In fact, NOLC has really been the lone truly active presence in what was once a proud region for the league, and they have been struggling to overcome geography and the aftermath of Katrina to remain GCLA-relevant. (They do remain relevant in a broader sense as hosts of the Mardi Gras Tourney).

The Third Coast Hooligans of the Gulfport/Biloxi area have found ways to keep themselves busy, but as far off as NOLC is from the rest of the GCLA, they are even further isolated.

However, there may be signs that things might begin to change, that the sleeping giant, while maybe not yet awake, may at least be stirring.

Interested parties are laying groundwork for the return of a Lafayette team, named Acadiana Lacrosse.  They already have a Facebook page and are looking for players. Plans are to connect this team to Houston-area teams by meeting in the middle somewhere, by creating the sort of meeting hub in Beaumont that has already been started in Victoria. It would seemingly do the job!

Is the creation of a Lafayette team it? Maybe for the moment, but maybe not.

High School and college programs have turned out hundreds of players throughout the years all over the state. Why not Baton Rouge? Shreveport? Why stop there?

If enough teams can come back or be created to bring back the old Eastern Conference, then such a GCLA division could provide the type of focused security that can allow the league- and lacrosse- to grow even more.

At the very least, NOLC, Third Coast, and Lafayette could easily see 4-6 additional games on their schedule than now, and possibly much more.

The key to 2012 is starting early enough in 2011. Acadiana is taking the steps. Who will be next? Sherevport?

As many lax players as have been created, trained and turned out of southern Louisiana, Shreveport has been even more prolific. If there was a city anywhere in our region that could just "declare" a club team and go at it, its Shreveport.

Hence, with just a little bit of elbow grease, the eastern division could feature NOLC, Third Coast, Acadiana, and Shreveport as early as next season. With a little MORE effort, you can add Baton Rouge and Jackson.

As of this moment, this is less about mechanics than it is about simple vision. If more people can share this vision for club lacrosse, it can happen and happen fast- sooner rather than later.

All it takes is for a few more people to simply open their eyes! 

Posted by gulfcoastlax at 1:43 PM CDT
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Thursday, 14 April 2011
Expansion Targets Lining up!

Each April my thoughts inevitably turn to two different things: One- finishing up the current season, and Two- next season.

The kind of experience we have next season largely depends on the momentum that is established now. As we scan the Gulf Coast region we can still see many populated areas that have not yet seen a lacrosse stick in person. Those are the areas we want to attack.

Let's start a little close to home. The Galveston County team has been finally taking the field after several fits and starts, and the results have been improving. They are adding more people each week and look to finish their season in decent fashion. The important thing we have done here is we have gotten people onto a lacrosse field that otherwise would not have.

I have already begun the motions of adding a Pearland team to the mix next season as well. The city is large enough to supprt a club team, and I don't mean simply providing a home field for an Indy like Metro. The entire northern Brazoria County area has over 150,000 people.

Southern Brazoria would be another target worth persuing. We have already gotten a finger hold on an effort in Victoria, which holds great potential as a hub for more distant teams to meet. I would like to establish the same sort of hub in Beaumont, which would provide a meeting spot for Houston teams and those from southern Louisiana.

The great thing about this effort, and the GCLA in general, is that it believes strongly that lacrosse players can be created from scratch. We have proven that time and again. The club level need not exist just for the elite or experienced. If the sport has meant something to you, why then can it not be meaningful for another? 

Adult rookies have often proven to be terrific motivators for the sport and very frequently help the lower levels by coaching youth and high school lacrosse. It is the club lacrosse level where these people are discovered.

The GCLA understands exactly what it is, and what it is not. We have been consistent since 1995. There might have been a few hiccups here and there for sure. Nothing is perfect.

However, here we are, about to conclude yet another season. All this despite being wished away by many, slandered by others, targeted for actual destruction by some (LOL- not kidding here!) and undercut by others still.

And guess what? We're getting bigger.

Again, my annual thanks to all those of you who serve the sport and help to make this happen. 




Posted by gulfcoastlax at 11:59 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, 14 April 2011 12:02 PM CDT
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Wednesday, 2 February 2011
The Value of "Rookies"

Oftentimes people will find it surprising when I mention to those who run club teams that a great way to recruit is to recruit rookies, or adult beginners, to their teams. Why stop at those who have played before?

Rookies oftentimes will be among the most enthusiastic people on the team, and in several times in my experience stepping forward to leadership positions. Remember how it was when you began....the initial excitement, a whole new circle of friends. Fast forward to an athlete in his 20's or 30's and you have a guy that might play this game another 10-15 years. By the end of his first season, you won't realize he's a rookie any longer- and he won't be.

Its all about bringing good PEOPLE into ther sport, which is arguably more important than bringing in good PLAYERS. 

The most resistance I get to this idea of recruiting comes from those who might suffer bruised egos, to those who think they are "too good" to be on the field with such novices. To them I say, "good riddance".

Almost every player on a club roster knows at least one such fellow who would play if given the chance. That's how you can go from 15 players to 25-30 overnight. Throw a long pole in their hands. Teach them defense and faceoffs, ground balls. There are plenty of spots on the field where such people can perform competantly enough to earn their playing time right away and with a little work.

As the GCLA moves ahead into new areas, recruiting such people will be a necessity, not a luxury. These types of players will be the ones leading the way. And, many such players will still be playing this game long after many of us have hung it up.

 -Steve Mathiason



Posted by gulfcoastlax at 1:59 PM CST
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Thursday, 2 December 2010
GCLA Scheduling Worked This Month

As almost everyone knows, the GCLA schedule gets worked, re-worked,and finalized during the month of December. Its incumbant upon every team team to get to me your team's scheduling preferences.

What's important is the list opponents. Those who have been in the GCLA long enough know that the list of possible opponents can change somewhat from year to year- mostly for the better. The four Western Conference teams for 2011 are set: Houston Predators, Space City, H'town Blackshirts, and Bayou City. Easy enough. Being added to the slate is Anarchy Lacrosse, headed by Jeff Cole. Jeff's new squad will play as a GCLA At-Large team in 2011.

Independents such as Houston-Metro and Tony's Tavern will again be featured on the schedules of GCLA teams, and it has been stated that Houston-Northwest wants to continue some of their long-standing rivalries with GCLA teams even though they have left for the SWLA.

Outside of Houston, things get somewhat interesting. Beaumont's status continues to be somewhat up in the air despite the recent influx of lacrosse talent. Their over-reliance on Coast Guard personnel might have left this city a little short for the time being. Hopefully, things will get back on track for them, and for us.

Further west, some positive things have happened. CClax and Flour Bluff have begun working together in a way that could result in the formation of a more solid, better-manned Corpus entry. In addition, people have been working on developing Bay City and/or Victoria as neutral sites for their games. Hopefully, we will have word later this month. Please let me know if your team would like to schedule such a game. Neutral site games are the ticket for bringing any Corpus team into more games against GCLA teams.

The GCLA Playoffs will be May 7-8th in Houston.

Lastly, do not forget to check teh many facebook sites dedicated to the GCLA, its teams, and lacrosse in our area in general. You'll be pleasantly surprised at just how much is going on out there!



Posted by gulfcoastlax at 1:59 PM CST
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