1st a Tufts Minivan, Then a Train to LaxCon

Jan 25, 2018

BTB Lax coach Jesse Miller

I went to my first US Lacrosse conference when I was 22 (back in early 2005).  I drove from Boston to Baltimore in a Tufts minivan with Coach Daly.  That was my first year as the graduate assistant coach at Tufts (having just finished playing there the prior spring.)

(Flashback:  Daly and I spent lots of hours in that minivan - recruiting, scouting, conferences…  Every successful college coach spend TONS of time on the road - actually one of the many reasons that I decided not to go into full-time coaching.)

That first US Lacrosse conference was new to me.  There were tons of presentations on game strategy & fundamentals, program organization, leadership, etc.  Daly was (and still is) very meticulous and organized, so we would split off to capture every session.  Then go over everything later at night and undoubtedly in the minivan baby!

I was with Daly for three years at that conference.  And it was the third year (January of 2007) that I remember the most…

I was in transition back then… (having just finished grad school and my coaching gig at Tufts six months prior.)  I wanted to still coach college lacrosse, but I didn’t want to do it full-time.  I also wanted to get out of Boston… kinda a quandary.

So I packed my truck and ended up in Washington D.C…

And just before that third conference (back in 2007) I had an interview for the volunteer coaching position at Georgetown under Coach Urick. When I met Daly, I was still waiting to hear back whether I got it or not…

I was pretty anxious…

Fast forward to January 19th, 2018

I made my fourth trip to the US Lacrosse conference (now called LaxCon… or maybe it always was??  Who knows.)

Lots has happened in my 10 year hiatus between LaxCon visits.  I got the job and coached at Georgetown for six seasons (2007 thru 2012), then transitioned to Gonzaga where I still coach…

It didn’t even cross my mind to hit up LaxCon this year until I was talking to my boy, Mike Gabel.  (Gabel is a Hall of Famer at Vermont, played in the MLL for a decade, and co-founded True Lacrosse out in Chicago.  Also one of my best friends…)

Gabel told me he was going… it got me thinking…

So I went on the US Lacrosse website and saw the option to volunteer work the registration desk.  Not only do you get to attend conference for free, but you also get a t-shirt.


The master plan was formulating - I could go up, work the desk, spread the word about my lax website, and grab dinner with Gabel and the boys.  Perfect!!

So last Friday I avoided driving and took the Metro to Union Station in D.C.  Hopped on the train to Baltimore.  Then walked to the Baltimore Convention Center.  (My costly mistake… I took Amtrak instead of the MARC.  Could’ve saved $20.  Ouch.)

Once there, I settled into my “A-D Last Name” slot and started registering people.

LaxCon attracts 3,000 people (divided rather equally among men and women.)  It’s packed with youth and high school coaches from everywhere…

The agenda is similar to what I remember back in 2005ish, but just more of everything.  More presentations, more on-field demonstrations, more vendors, and more people.

The conference attracts very accomplished speakers.  Coach Tillman gave the keynote address...

There’s no question you can pull some good information… that’s if, of course, you pay attention.

Working the desk was fun and I met some cool people.  Also caught up with Gabel and his crew (Jake Deane and Kevin Finn).  

The four of us caught an on-field demonstration focusing on defense and "close outs".  (Gabel was pissed that the defender's stick head was facing down instead of up.  An important detail that only a savvy veteran would notice…)

We grabbed dinner, and then I walked back to train station.

On that walk I started thinking about the conference (reflecting on walks is such a good thing, actually picked that tip up from a podcast interview with Snoop Dog believe it or not.)  

I realized that neither myself or Daly rides in the Tufts minivan anymore.  I walk.  And Daly is the head coach at Brown (probably riding in their minivan).

Thinking a bit more, this is what I boiled LaxCon down to…

First, people really love the game.  That's exciting to see.

Second, those same people (coaches, players, officials, fans, vendors) are all looking for new information and fresh ideas.

It’s the only way you can stay current with this fast paced game.

Third, I got lots on my mind and ready to share it.

Stay tuned for lots more content this season…