Coaches Corner: Jim Stagnitta

As we approached the inaugural weekend in Boston, I was asked by numerous people if I was excited to coach and play a part in the first-ever PLL games.

I have six years of professional lacrosse coaching experience with three different teams and there were a few things that excited me, and honestly it was not the thought of playing our first game.

I was truly excited to attend Training Camp, to have an opportunity to spend quality time with the Whipsnakes and prepare for the start of the season. It was an opportunity that was unique to my previous professional experience. It was an opportunity for our staff to install systems and coach the team in a way that was transformational, and at the same time, defining the expectations of how we conduct our business as a team. Often times in my professional experience we were limited in time and therefore ability to impact our teams from both a strategic and cultural aspect. Training Camp did not disappoint, providing our staff and players alike with the insights, comfort level and systems necessary for Week 1 of the PLL season to showcase the teams and talent in the best light possible.

We created standards that now define who the Whipsnakes aspire to be on the field and in the locker room. It was the most productive time I’ve spent with any teams over my professional career.

I wouldn’t describe it as excited as we approached the opener in Boston as much as I would say I was curious. I was comfortable that we had accomplished enough in camp to be prepared to play at a high level and make adjustments as needed, but I was curious at the same time as to how it would play out. A great deal of this was new; from the rules to the venues. I was not sure how it would all look when the PLL finally took to the field considering all the hype and build-up. I couldn't help but feel there was a lot to live up to. I was honestly curious to see if we could deliver on the expectations that marketing created.

From the minute we stepped on the field for practice until our final whistle there was an excitement surrounding our team that was palpable. The energy and anticipation from the players was like no other I have experienced outside NCAA Tournament play. The venue was amazing and only enhanced the feeling that we all were truly experiencing what it's like to be professional athletes.

Personally on game day I went from curious to nervous. I have not experienced nerves and butterflies in pregame since my college coaching days. It felt real and like we were truly playing for something important. The intensity and speed of play was again like an NCAA Tournament caliber game, just with a team of 20 of the best players in the world. The pace of play, effort of the players and excitement of the crowd exceeded my expectation, which by the way, were high. Playing an overtime game was more stress than I needed in my first game on the Whipsnakes sidelines, but it just added to what I will look back upon as one of the greatest experiences in my over 30 years as a college and professional lacrosse coach.

It was only out done by our Week 2 experience in an amazing Red Bull Stadium with another Whipsnakes overtime victory. I can’t imagine what it will look like as all these teams gain a comfort level and start to reach mid-season form. Stay tuned! #Whipsssss

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