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Team USA and the MCLA

With the tremendous growth of the MCLA and the sport of lacrosse in general, we decided to put a piece together on Team USA Indoor as the team gears up for the World Games later this month in Prague, Czech Republic. With the best players in the world gunning for gold, many of the names on Team USA probably sound familiar; Paul Rabil, Casey Powell and the like, representing NCAA schools. However, the MCLA is making a name for itself in the pro ranks with guys like Chapman’s Connor Martin, who besides his off-field antics, is putting up numbers with both the NLL’s Colorado Mammoth and the Denver Outlaws of the MLL. He might be the first big name to come out of the MCLA, but with some help, he certainly won’t be the last.

Although no MCLA players cracked the USA roster, the league is represented well as UCLA Head Coach Jacques Bagley is in his 6th year as Team USA’s Assistant GM and a member of the coaching staff. No stranger to the sidelines, Coach Bagley has a pretty extensive coaching resume that includes 7 years with St. Joe’s Prep in Philadelphia, starting an MLL franchise and, most recently reaching the MCLA postseason this year with his UCLA Bruin squad.

In his preparation for his second World Games appearance with Team USA, we were able to sit down with Coach Bagley and get his take on the MCLA, coaching in the pros and what it will take to get USA the gold in Prague. With almost all levels of coaching under his belt, Coach Bagley has a great insight on all aspects of the game and the differences (or lack of) between the MCLA and the NCAA. “Some MCLA teams are as competitive as NCAA teams. We still do scouting, recruiting, film, etc. just like the NCAA teams. Our budgets are generally smaller and not many of us would beat top 25 D1 teams but we compete just as hard and want to win just as much.”

Although his MCLA players have the will, Coach does see major differences in his college level players from what his USA practices look like. “Pros are…pros. They usually don’t need help working on their off-hand and other fundamentals. Mentally, pros are also much further along than college kids. USA players are ready to play everyday…for college players you go over everything from eating to sleeping to scouting and game planning.” With that being said however, Coach likes the direction his Bruins are heading in. “The future for the UCLA lacrosse program looks good. We made the playoffs for the first time in 6 years and have a great group of young players.”

With the UCLA season in the books, Jacques, with the rest of his Team USA coaching staff can focus on task at hand: preparing the USA squad for 10 days of intense battle against the world’s best players in unfamiliar territory, as the Games are taking place half way around the world in the Czech Republic.

Team USA is looking to improve on its Bronze medal finish in the last World Games in 2007 that took place in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “The US Indoor Team looks great. We have the best team we have ever had and we look to improve each year through the US Indoor developmental team.”

With their sites set high, the USA coaching staff still has two major hurdles to overcome when it comes to getting the team prepared for Prague. “The biggest challenges for Team USA are fund raising and lack of a training camp. Because the NLL season runs up to the World Games we can’t have a training camp before the games,” adds Coach Bagley. With the 40 man roster picked in the fall of last year, the USA staff has to closely monitor its players throughout the NLL season to narrow its roster down to the 23 players it can take to the World Games.

And that’s a whole other issue – getting all the players and staff to the Games.

Travelling around the globe, housing and feeding the players and staff for the duration of the tournament adds up and also weighs heavily on the USA brass.

“Fund raising is also a huge challenge as we have to raise 100% of the money for the team ourselves. We get help raising money primarily through private donations. Our players help out by asking friends and family to donate as well,” explained Coach Bagley.

There are also ways for you at home to contribute and support Team USA. “We currently have a jersey raffle for all players,” said Coach Bagley. “A donation of $25 gives you a chance to win a game-worn jersey from one of the players at the World Games. You can sign up for your chance to win at www.usildonation.org or to just donate or help sponsor the team you can find info at www.usindoorlacrosse.org.”

We encourage you to help support Team USA in the quest for the Gold!
Another way to support the Team is through MCLA The Lax Mag contributor, Verdict Photography. As the official media supplier to Team USA, Verdict Photography is giving readers the opportunity to support the Team USA and own a piece of history by selling limited edition and signed Team USA prints. Only 100 prints were made and at press time, there will still some left.

www.TheVerdictStore.com