January 13, 2013

Convention Notebook: Simon Joins List of Dyer Success Stories

by Matt DaSilva, Matt Forman, Clare Lochary and Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Convention Live Blog

Bayhawks defenseman Mike Simon (66) is the "best-kept secret in lacrosse," according to teammate Michael Evans. Simon's workout routines with conditioning specialist Jay Dyer have helped. Simon helped limit Paul Rabil, another Dyer client, to two assists in the 2012 MLL semifinals.
© Bryce Vickmark

PHILADELPHIA — Don't tell Johns Hopkins strength and conditioning coach Jay Dyer professional lacrosse players are just the so-called "weekend warriors." With a roster of loyal clients whose Major League Lacrosse and National Lacrosse League credentials speak volumes about his program, he knows better.

Dyer, a conditioning specialist for Union Memorial Sports Medicine in Baltimore, does not like to name drop. But he has become the go-to trainer for top players like Paul Rabil, Brendan Mundorf, Stephen Berger and Drew Westervelt. Several more subscribers of Dyer's program were good college players who have reached elite status in the professional ranks.

Like Chesapeake Bayhawks defenseman Mike Simon. An undrafted player from Division III Stevenson, Simon played in one game in 2010 before the Bayhawks released and then reacquired him as the 101st pick in the 2011 supplemental draft. That's when Simon latched onto Dyer's program.

With the Bayhawks' depth on defense, Simon played sparingly in 2011 and 2012. Injuries to other players put Simon in a more prominent spot in the MLL playoffs — teaming with Barney Ehrmann, another Dyer trainee, to limit Rabil to just two assists in Chesapeake's 16-10 victory over Boston in the semifinals.

After that game, Bayhawks defenseman Michael Evans called Simon "the best-kept secret in lacrosse." The secret got out, and now Simon is among 38 players who will represent the U.S. men's national team at Champion Challenge in Florida later this month.

"He was a guy that came out of nowhere last year for the Bayhawks," Dyer said Sunday before his presentation at the US Lacrosse National Convention in Philadelphia. "He's been religious [in conditioning]."

Similar success stories have surfaced among athletes who have enlisted in Dyer's program, including Kyle Hartzell, Ben Hunt and Jeff Reynolds.

"I don't want to take credit for any of that. I give them credit for coming in and doing it, because it's not easy," Dyer said. "I ask them to do things that make them uncomfortable and push them in ways that they may have not been pushed before. It takes a lot of dedication and a lot of drive to do that."

Dyer's first high-profile client, former MLL co-MVP Mark Millon, has started working out again in hopes of making a comeback with the Rochester Rattlers, who selected the 41-year-old first overall in the December supplemental draft.

Rabil, considered the world's best player, has played a significant role in the growth of Dyer's lacrosse-specific business, promoting their workouts via social media.

"He works extremely hard, and we also have those conversations when it's time to tone it down," Dyer said of the two-time MLL MVP. "We're having a light workout today. I don't want to see on your Twitter account that you were back at the gym six hours later."

Meade Talks Leadership

Funny thing that Richie Meade's mini-keynote address was titled, "Building a Program." As former Navy All-American Glen Mills reminded Meade on Saturday night, "Coach, you haven't build a program yet." But he's in the process of building two currently: the U.S. men's national team, and Furman University.

"But the model is pretty much the same, regardless of the level," said Meade, who was introduced by former Navy star goalie Matt Russell.

Russell used three words that apply to Meade: accountability, toughness and patriot. "All of you know what he's about and where he's been," Russell said. "He's truly loved by his players."

In an hour-long speech, Meade weaved countless impactful anecdotes through his message about four underlying principles of leadership that translate to building a new program.

1. Self-awareness — All of it comes down to you this: What do you have to offer? What's your value system? What's your intensity level? What do you want to project?
2. Ingenuity — Bottom line: It's about figuring out the components of a situation and looking at how to do it.
3. Courage — Physical courage in the military is a requirement. On the athletic field, it's a requirement. Toughness. Endurance. But mental courage and moral courage are just as important.
4. Love — This is consistent in every single person you hear talk about leadership, coaching or teaching, even if it's disguised in a lot of different words. In military, it's selflessness, putting your unit over yourself.

With regard to leadership, Meade stressed three points of individual captain development: loyalty, standards and actions.


Team USA's Ally Carey (32) and Kristen Carr and former North Carolina star and first-year Navy assistant coach Corey Donohoe held a draw specialist demo Sunday at the 2013 US Lacrosse National Convention, presented by Champion.
© J.C. Pinhero

Sunday morning began with the cleverly titled "Drawsome," presentation, a draw session by U.S. women's national team members Ally Carey and Kristen Carr and former North Carolina star and first-year Navy assistant coach Corey Donohoe.

The trio emphasized that even with young kids, draw skills can and should be taught. The trio showed a few mechanical techniques, including the motorcycle grip, but most of the demo focused on (pretty fun-looking) drills:

- Players in pairs can pass back and forth with one hand on the bottom of the shaft to improve forearm and wrist strength.

- Stand with your hands partially outstretched, holding two balls. The draw person stands opposite with her hands outside yours. Drop one ball and see if your girl can catch it overhand. This exercise develops reaction speed. For an advance version, try the drill with your partner's hands inside of yours. This is good for goalies, too.

- Make drills competitive and get two girls to squat low opposite each other. Put a ball between them, blow the whistle and see who can grab it one- handed.

Big and Small Goaltending

Charlotte Hounds goalies Adam Ghitelman and Mark Manos took to the field Sunday for a presentation titled "Goaltending from Two Different Perspectives."

Manos is 6-foot-2, 295 pounds. Ghitelman is smaller at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, hence the title of their talk. The pair, formerly of Virginia (Ghitelman) and Drexel (Manos), has proven there is more than one way to play goalie.

Manos likes to stay in the cage more and use what he called a "flatter arc" when moving across the crease, because "I can take up more of the cage," he said. Ghitelman, who also is now a Harvard assistant coach, likes to step to the ball more and play more out of the cage at times.

Another difference between the pair: While Ghitelman holds his stick and a slight angle at ready position as commonly seen, Manos holds his stick more vertically, because he attacks off-side hip shots by coming over the top. Ghitelman attacks off-side hip by coming underneath. It's a matter of preference for Manos. "I don't want to fight gravity," he said.

Ghitelman's focus on working out of the cage, being a smaller goalie, brought up a good discussion on stickwork.

"They always say hockey goalies should be the best skaters on the team," Ghitelman said. "In lacrosse, goalies should be the best stick-handlers."

The reason? That confidence and ability with the stick helps a goalie clear the ball effectively and can cut down on second chance opportunities for the offense that, added up over the course of a game, can translate to goals against.

For more from the 2013 US Lacrosse National Convention, presented by Champion, check out our weekend-long live blog.

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