Coaches Corner: Chris Bates

By Chris Bates

Full disclosure, to write a Coaches Corner after three heartbreaking one goal losses in a row is not easy! I am filled with great optimism about the Archers’ next steps though. We’ve got a gritty, competitive group that embraces challenge, for sure. I am also filled with great optimism about the PLL – so let me explain.

As a college coach for almost 25 years, I honestly didn’t pay much attention to professional outdoor lacrosse except to occasionally check in on former Dragons or Tigers. Fast forward and now the PLL has my full focus and I could not be more impressed with the vision and execution of this league. As lacrosse “lifers,” we’ve all forever heard the drum beat about “growing the game.” Truth be told, I’ve always approached that mantra with some caution. We’ve been given the gift of this beautiful game and while we certainly want to share and expose it to others, we do not want to at the expense of sacrificing the true essence and traditions of our sport.

I do think the PLL is growing the game the right way. The PLL Academy and Assists programs connect with people in a very real and tangible way. The interactive Premier Zone is front and center on gameday and adds to the experience of what our game is about.  And if you stay after what is likely to be a one goal OT battle, you’ll still see players from both teams signing autographs and genuinely interacting with fans. If the game is going to grow the right way, highlight the character, gratitude and soul of the players and league! The PLL gets it.

The NBC partnership and social media initiatives are an absolute game changer. The TV coverage is amazing – camera angles, graphics, content, and player/coach access is off the charts. The 3 B’s (Burke, Boyle & Burmeister) are exceptional – knowledgeable, passionate and professional. Social media? I’m out of my league and still just dipping my toe in the Twitter and IG waters, but wow – what an unbelievable presence! Kudos to Tyler, RJ and the entire team on a phenomenal effort.

And what about the games? Skill, speed, the athleticism  – and, man, do these dudes compete! There have been absolute battles week in and week out. The new rules have elevated the up and down, fast paced action with the shorter field, 2-point line and shot clock. Physical play? Check. This game will continue to sell itself. Non-lacrosse folks just need to watch to get hooked. The PLL is just scratching the surface and the strong foundation being laid is exciting for all of us to be a part of from the ground up!

One last thought as it relates to growing the game as we move forward. The close-knit community in and around lacrosse has always made our sport unique. Family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. have all devotedly supported, and helped share, the game with others. Lacrosse has grown through that ripple effect of pulling the next convert under the game’s tent. The access people currently have and the opportunity that now exists to showcase our game is unlike any time before. Let’s value this moment and embrace the responsibility that comes with it.

One fun story to finish: my sister, Alison, is a geriatric PT at Mass General Hospital in Boston. While she was on her rounds last week, much to her surprise, someone walks down the hall wearing an Atlas t-shirt, our opponent over that weekend. Without missing a beat, she says to this unsuspecting person, “nice shirt, but wrong team this week. Go Archers!”

Cool to think that these stories are happening all over the country these days. It’s great to be part of the PLL and the future of this league couldn’t be more exciting!

Arrows up!

CBates

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