January 14, 2010

Ten Reasons to Attend the USL National Convention

by Matt DaSilva | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

The lacrosse world descends upon Baltimore this weekend for the 2010 US Lacrosse National Convention, presented by Champion. Pre-registration check-in and on-site registration begins Thursday at 5 p.m. Sessions start Friday.

The event, expected to draw over 5,000 lacrosse coaches, officials and enthusiast to the Baltimore Convention Center, is annually the sport’s largest educational and networking opportunity. Expect a virtual who’s who of speakers, vendors and figures.

Not registered yet? Not a US Lacrosse member? It’s not too late. Here are 10 reasons you should join the masses this weekend in Baltimore.

1. Lou Holtz
Who better to get you juiced for lacrosse season than one of the best college football coaches of our era? Holtz is the only coach in NCAA history to lead six different programs to bowl games. His most inspiring moments came at Notre Dame, where a statue of him stands. Currently an ESPN analyst, Holtz said Monday on 105.6 The Fan that he was excited about the opportunity to engage the lacrosse community, calling it the nation’s fastest-growing sport. Holtz, whose grandson is a high school lacrosse player in Greenville, N.C., takes the stage Friday at 6:30 p.m.

2. Concussion Management
US Lacrosse has been a leader in research of lacrosse-related head injuries. Concussions are a hot topic nationally, with the NFL in focus. Through its strategic partnership with ImPACT, USL has developed a concussion management program utilizing an online, baseline-testing program to help coaches and officials determine if an athlete has sustained a concussion. What does this have to do with the convention? As the Baltimore Sun reported Thursday, the US Lacrosse Sports Science and Safety Committee will be on hand Friday (5-6 p.m.) to present its findings and provide guidelines for concussion awareness and management.

3. Stuff
And more stuff. The sold-out exhibition hall includes over 130 vendors, ranging from household lacrosse brands like Warrior, de Beer, adidas and Harrow to niche organizations and start-up ventures. The US Lacrosse retail store opens Thursday and will remain open through Saturday’s sessions. USL will also provide an opportunity, called “Fan Fest,” for the general public to access the expo and live field sessions Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. for $10 per person.

4. Airing of Grievances
Gratuitous self-promotion here, but this year’s convention will include a media panel. I’ll be there as a moderator, joined by Inside Lacrosse’s John Jiloty and ESPN’s Quint Kessenich and Mark Dixon. The topic “Growth and Effect of Media on Lacrosse,” will include an airing of grievances, in the spirit of Festivus. Got beef with these guys? Tired of hiding behind your anonymous online handle? Join the session, and let’s talk about it.

5. Team USA
There’s no shortage of superstar players on hand, with the both U.S. national teams (men and women) featured in a variety of sessions, including live- and demo-field presentations and autograph sessions. Check out the 2010 U.S. men’s team roster -- most, if not all, of these studs will be there. So why wouldn’t you?

6. Legends
Holtz isn’t the only coaching great here. Recently retired NYIT lacrosse coach Jack Kaley (four Division II national championships) will be joined by Tom Hayes (Rutgers), Tom Hall (Fayetteville-Manlius H.S.) and Doug Tarring (St. Anne’s-Belfield H.S.) on the US Lacrosse Men’s Division’s legends panel. Get face time with some great minds. Also speaking are, among others, on the men’s side: Mike Pressler (Bryant, Team USA); Dave Huntley (Philadelphia Wings, Toronto Nationals, Team Canada); Jim Berkman (Salisbury); Ricky Sowell (Stony Brook, Team USA); Joe Alberici (Army; Team USA); Chuck Ruebling (Delbarton School); Paul Cantabene (Stevenson); John Paul (Michigan) and Kirk Ventiquattro (Carthage H.S.). The women’s series includes Kelly Amonte Hiller (Northwestern) and Jenny Levy (North Carolina), whose teams met in the NCAA Division I championship game last spring; Jen Adams (Loyola); Ricky Fried (Georgetown, Team USA); Carole Cantele (Gettysburg, Team USA); Liz Robertshaw (BU, Team USA); Bonnie Rosen (Temple); Chris Sailer (Princeton); Susan Ford (former USWLA president); Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe (James Madison) and many others. Click here for the full schedule of speakers: Men | Women

7. The Cause
No group rallies better for its own than the lacrosse community. Look no further than the efforts recently launched to aid Bellarmine men’s coach Jack McGetrick, who has prostate cancer that has spread to his bones. McGetrick will be on hand at the convention as a presenter as part of what’s sure to be an emotional reunion with his colleagues. Other charitable organizations, such as the HEADStrong Foundation that raises funds for blood cancer research in honor of former Hofstra player Nick Colleluori, can be found in the expo hall.

8. Certification
More coaches will become certified this weekend than any other in the US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program, the nation’s lone standardized curriculum for lacrosse coaches, currently featuring Levels I and II components. Concurring CEP sessions take place Sunday. You can register on site. For more information on CEP, click here.

9. The Buzz
It’s the unofficial start of the 2010 lacrosse season, which is enough reason to be excited. Throw in the potential for breaking news -- Major League Lacrosse and the Federation of International Lacrosse are among entities holding meetings in conjunction with the event -- and you won’t want to miss the hubbub.

10. The Aftermath
After long days (sessions Friday and Saturday run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.), these guys and gals have to let loose somewhere. Rub elbows with lacrosse royalty, and perhaps pick up some greatness by osmosis. As Chuck Jaffe of 105.7 The Fan and Boys’ Latin (Md.) lacrosse said Monday, “You don’t have to be a lacrosse junkie to enjoy it. It’s good people having a good time.”

Lacrosse Magazine Online will provide live coverage throughout the weekend from the US Lacrosse National Convention in Baltimore. Click here for the live blog page, which launches Friday.

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