The Player’s Lounge: Ryan Drenner

By Ryan Drenner

When I picked up my first lacrosse stick 20 years ago, I never could have dreamed of all the opportunities the sport has provided to me. From the places I’ve been fortunate enough to travel, to the memories and relationships I’ve made along the way, I find myself more and more thankful for this game each year. My love and appreciation for the game are why I am where I am today and the reason I continue to compete.

When I was presented with the opportunity to participate in the PLL, my decision was based off of two main factors: to grow the game of lacrosse – in hopes of helping others experience the opportunities similar to the ones I was blessed with, and the desire to push myself and compete against the best competition in the world. After hearing the names of guys who were already on board, along with learning about how the Premier Lacrosse League planned to take the sport to entirely new heights, the decision to join was one of the easiest I’ve ever made. My expectations for the impact this league would have on me, and the sport, have been absolutely shattered. Through the tireless work of league executives, venue employees, and the media/broadcast team, lacrosse has been elevated to a professional level that the sport has never seen before. I am incredibly thankful for their hard work and the daily sacrifices they make to grow the game of lacrosse.

From PLL Assists and the PLL Academy, to giving fans an all-access look into the league on social media and broadcasting games live on NBC, the PLL has taken every step possible towards making lacrosse more accessible to a broader audience since its inception 10 months ago. If you’re reading this, I’m sure you’ve seen a PLL game so far this summer and can agree with me that the quality and level of professionalism of the broadcast is first class. There are people tuning in every week that didn’t even know what lacrosse was five months ago. For me, that is one of the most exciting aspects of this season. People who were primarily football, basketball, hockey, or soccer fans are now catching on to the sport of the future and becoming avid fans. On top of that, through PLL Academy, there are kids across the country that can pick up a stick for the first time and be taught by the best players in the world. It’s truly an honor to be a part of a league that is determined to grow the game and focuses so much attention towards diversity and inclusion within our community. Everyone that picks up a stick in the backyard, tries out for a travel team, or just watches a game on television should know that there is a place in this game for every gender, race, religion, etc. The opportunity to represent the PLL and their initiative towards inclusion is one I’ll cherish forever.

One of the greatest opportunities I’ve been afforded in my life is the opportunity to suit up with and compete against the best lacrosse players in the world. Every team in this league is overflowing with talent. When the rosters were released, I tried scrolling through to see where the weaknesses were within each team – there weren’t any. Each team in the PLL is an all-star team, but the ones that find consistent success are the teams that play best together. That’s why I am so fortunate to have been placed on the Whipsnakes Lacrosse Club. Despite our recent struggles (losing back-to-back games) we are a resilient group that truly cares for one another. On the offensive end of the field, no one worries about who scores or who gets the assist, it’s all about putting the ball in the back of the net, regardless of how it gets there. Our defensive unit, backed by the best goalie in the league in my opinion, plays so well together. I think this comes from the fact that most of them come from the same collegiate program and system. At Training Camp, they were already fine-tuning little intricacies within our defensive scheme while other teams were working to lay down their foundation. It’s honestly so fun to watch that group go to work every possession from the other side of the field. Inside our locker room the dynamic is unlike any other I’ve been apart of. We have guys like Jake Bernhardt and Michael Ehrhardt providing powerful motivational messages that would have any competitor ready to run through a brick wall. Then there’s guys like Mike Chanenchuk and John Haus, who currently coach at high level NCAA DI programs, that frequently share their outlook on how the games are going and what they feel our best plan of attack will be. Often, it’s reminding us to have confidence in our play, trust ourselves and our teammates, and to continue to play together.

We’re eight games through the season and the Whipsnakes have experienced both highs and lows. We began our season with three straight wins in overtime fashion. Sure, you could argue we were that close to starting the season 0-3, but there’s something to be said about coming together in those times of adversity and sealing the deal. With only two more guaranteed games this season, we’ve put ourselves in a position to control our own destiny. We’ve learned how to win, we’ve been humbled by losses, and we’re ready to keep this journey going.

I believe you learn more from a loss than you do a win. The way I look at – we’d rather take those losses now during the regular season while there’s still time to learn from them and apply those lessons to our upcoming challenges. Next on deck for the Whips is a rematch Sunday against the Redwoods on NBC Sports. I’m excited for another opportunity to battle with the Whipsnakes men as we look to earn a hard-fought win up in Hamilton, Ontario.

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