How Mike Pressler makes every day hump day on Atlas LC

By Lauren Merola

Jun 14, 2023

Atlas coach Mike Pressler has the team’s week scheduled down to the minute. 

There’s a virtual captains meeting on Tuesday. Then a coaches meeting. And a team meeting – no longer than 30 minutes – Tuesday night, and again on Thursday. If Atlas has a Friday game, the Thursday night meeting will be held in person at the team hotel. 

Tuesday meetings are for debriefs. Thursday meetings are for scouting reports and gameplans. Before Tuesday's meeting, each player is responsible for sending Pressler a text of a pro and con of his personal and the team performance from the previous week’s game.

Pressler is strict and organized – as the Atlas captains first noticed when meeting him – but he’s not dull. He has his own ways to lighten the mood. So, at every Atlas practice, when it’s time for a water break, he’ll yell out the name of a type of camel.

“The different camels are [different types of] water breaks. It’s like, ‘Go get a camel!’” Atlas faceoff specialist Trevor Baptiste said.

“I say camel and they all repeat after me,” Pressler said with a laugh. “They all say it. One by one. Camel. Camel. Camel. Camel.”

If Pressler calls for an African camel, which he made up to have one hump, the team takes a quick water break. If he says Indian camel, which he designed with two humps, the team gets an extra few minutes of rest. It’s a metaphor Pressler has used since his days at Ohio Wesleyan, who’s men’s lacrosse team he coached from 1986 to 1990, to “keep practice loose” and celebrate getting over the hump of a tough drill with teammates to enjoy a laugh with friends.

Similar to hump day.

The term “hump day” is a popular phrase used in North America that refers to Wednesday, the middle day of the workweek when people get over the “hump” and start looking toward the weekend. It’s a day associated with fun and optimism that gained popularity in 2013 when GEICO made a commercial with a camel walking around an office on hump day, excitedly asking employees what day it was. The tagline was that GEICO customers are happier than a camel on Wednesday.

And Atlas players are happiest when dealt a dual-humped camel at practice.

 “Everything is very high tempo with coach Pressler. Our drills and practices are very structured and organized. We’ll go from drill to drill to drill and then he’ll bring us in and say camel,” Atlas attackman Chris Gray said. “We all head to the sidelines and the guys get a kick out of it. It lightens the mood mid-practice. We’re obviously all going at each other being super competitive, so it’s a quick little break that we get in between drills. It’s really stuck and the guys seem to love it. I know I do.”

“That’s the whole purpose. To get the guys laughing,” Pressler said.

An animal who can go weeks in the desert without water representing a water break gets a group giggle every time. “It’s guys being guys, that’s what it is,” Pressler said. “Having some fun in some tough moments.”

And then? Right back to work.

“Are we serious with these guys? One-hundred percent…” Pressler said. “As disciplined as we are, as highly-scheduled as we are, to let your guard down and have some fun, it lets men be boys again. We all started playing this great game as boys. I’m a lot older than all those guys, so for me to bring some brevity to practice and the locker room, I think goes a long way with a lot of these guys.”

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