Ominous early forecasts for this weekend tempered expectations, but hazardous weather never materialized. And the lacrosse community responded.

This year’s convention and fan fest drew a record 7,631 attendees and participants, shattering the previous mark of 7,066 set last year in Philadelphia. The attendance figure included a record 2,563 for the fan fest Saturday, and a solid 320 walk-up coaches and officials for the full convention.

“The coaches doing the seminars were amazing,” said Stacy Gold of Baltimore, an assistant coach at Academy of the Holy Cross (Md.). “I learned some fun stick-work drills from Cathy Reese at Maryland. Amy Appelt [Slade] did some great attack stuff. My brain is a little tapped from being here all weekend, but I definitely got some great stuff.”

Gold’s remark about her brain is not uncommon among attendees; one reason why US Lacrosse aligned years ago with Digitell, Inc., to capture handouts from speakers and either audio or video of each convention session. This online library of all clinics and materials is free of charge to registered attendees. Non-attendees can purchase sessions a la carte.

“I’m definitely going to go online to get video and PowerPoints from the sessions I went to, and it will be great to get files from sessions I didn’t attend,” Gold said.

Waiting for her Starbucks coffee, Gold flashed a smile at the end of a long weekend of learning.

“I love it. It’s fun to come every single year. You learn different nuggets each year, and it’s exciting. It gets you psyched up for the season,” she said.

As an attendee this year, Gold will be offered the lowest registration price available at the time registration opens for the 2016 convention, which is set for Jan. 22-24 in Baltimore.

Rules, Mechanics and, Now, State Laws

Over the last five years, “player safety” has become perhaps the most-used buzzword in sports, and perhaps rightfully so. Leagues and organizations have devoted increased funding to study injuries and rewritten rules to help discourage dangerous play – the latter having a significant impact on the duties of officials during games.

But now state governments, seemingly thirsty to put tax revenue into action somewhere and not content to allow athletics agencies to address their own issues, have gotten involved at a staggering pace.

According to longtime sports attorney and former three-sport official Alan Goldberger, in 2010 there were seven state laws concerning athletes and concussion. Last year, the number reached 51.

“It’s mass confusion for officials,” Goldberger said. “Federal legislation is pending, but federal legislation seems always to be pending.”

Goldberger’s advice for officials at his LaxCon session Saturday?

“Go over injury mechanics during your pregame,” he said, and later, “You can never have too much insurance.”

Respect Goes Both Ways for Officials, Coaches

Bill Carollo, a former NFL referee and current coordinator of football officials for the Big Ten Conference, emphasized respect when advising officials on their communication with coaches at his session Saturday.

“They remember how you treat them,” Carollo, who has worked two Super Bowls, said. “If you don’t respect them, they won’t respect us. Try to solve problems when you talk with them. You can talk to them about rules, but if you can be practical and use common sense, that is a key to success. Being honest is disarming.”

As the growth of lacrosse in part has coaches and officials of different competencies on games together, resulting in sometimes-tenuous interactions between them, Carollo believes experience will help those in the stripes.

“Knowing when to walk away and when to flag him – that’s an art.”

Quotes of the Weekend

“So good to see you!”

Usually following a hug, this was overheard ad infinitum during walks through convention center.

“Taunting and baiting is not an area where we give warnings.”

Alan Goldberger, sports attorney and former official

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

Kevin Cassese, head coach Lehigh University men, assistant coach Team USA

“We don’t slap check. Our defenders are taught to lift from elbow to armpit.”

Tim Puls, assistant coach Stevenson University men

“The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Dodge in a straight line.”

Cathy Reese, head coach University of Maryland women

Related Links

Final Day of #LaxCon: Officiating in the Spotlight (Lacrosse Magazine)

Gallery: #LaxCon Day Two Sights and Sounds (Lacrosse Magazine)

#LaxCon Saturday: Canada's Plan, Life Lessons and a Record Crowd (Lacrosse Magazine)