Coach Brazill Interviewed About Merrimack College Lacrosse Team Winning Streak
Coach Brazill (who is also the offensive coordinator for the Merrimack College Team) has earned some bragging rights:
“We are on a 7 game winning streak and are the number 2 team in the country right now.
We are 5-0 in conference and we beat the number one team in the country LeMoyne on March 26th at home.
We have 5 games left in the regular season and our next game is a home game against Pace University at home this Saturday at 1:00.”
Show the coach some love and come watch if you can!
Happy Birthday Coach Brazill !
A Birthday Interview with Coach Bryan Brazill
Coach Brazill just celebrated his 31st birthday. We thought it’d be a good time to catch up with him to ask him a few questions.
When did you start playing lacrosse?
What’s your favorite lacrosse memory?
Going to the Eli Jamboree in 5th grade. It was a big youth tournament at Yale University and it was the first time I saw and started to understand the community and culture of lacrosse. My Dad and Grandfather took me and they seemed to think I was pretty good, which I was proud of.
What are some other sports you play/enjoy?
I love to surf and snowboard. For team sports I was always into basketball and still love playing pick up hoops.
How does your wife, Danielle, feel about lacrosse?
She says she’s grown to love it. I think she’s grown to really like it– love is a strong word. She grew up in Winthrop, MA, a super small town just outside of Boston and they didn’t have lacrosse. The first game she saw was at Merrimack, and now she is married to a lacrosse-obsessed husband.
Greg Melaugh–Face of New England Lacrosse Journal’s January Cover
Kelsey Brazill’s interview with Greg Melaugh, who was recently on the cover of New England Lacrosse Journal
How is it being on the cover of the New England Lacrosse Journal?
When I first heard about it I was pretty excited; it’s the first time I’ve ever been on the cover of anything. I guess it’s just really exciting.
Has that coverage done anything for your team?
It’s obviously good for our school because it helps with recruiting and stuff, and it helps get our school name out there.
What are your hopes for this season at Merrimack both personally and for your whole team?
I think as a team we obviously want to go all the way and win a national championship. And personally anything I can do to help my team win that will be my goal.
What do you think your chances at a national championship are?
I think they’re pretty good; we have a very good chance. Especially with the new way the playoffs work (8 teams make the NCAA playoffs this year, previously it had only been 4). We have a better chance of making it. And we have a really good team with a lot of guys returning.
How do you like playing for Coach Brazill, having him as your offensive coach?
I love playing for Bryan, he’s an awesome coach. He’s laid back, lets us play our game, and coaches us when we need it.
Do you have any advice for kids hoping to become part of HGR?
For anyone who wants to play for HGR, I would just say work hard every day. If you work hard, the coaches will give you their attention. They always give you their best, so if you’re willing to give them your best then you’re going to succeed.
How did playing for the Raptors prepare you for playing at the collegiate level?
Playing with the Raptors was a great help because we always had great coaches. I mean if you ever need anything they were there to help you out. Now that Home Grown is working with them, it’s just going to be even better–with more coaches and better facilities and everything.
What is your favorite movie?
What is your weapon of choice?
Favorite stick would be the Evo 3 (Evolution 3).
What is your favorite dodge move?
Definitely the triple jabs (a three step crossover).
What are some things outside of Lacrosse that you like to do in your free time?
I like to mountain bike and ski.
Interview With a Faceoff Middy
Coach Bryan Brazill (CB): I’m here with Pat Coskren, Merrimack college faceoff midfielder. In your own words how do you feel last season went?
Pat Coskren (PC): I really believe we had a great team. However there were a few games where we lost trust in one another, and along with a lack of communication we had some tough loses, that otherwise never would have happened.
CB: What are your goals this year, Pat?
PC: I hope to help bring my team to a Ne-10 final, and take steps toward accomplishing our biggest goal–a national championship.
CB: You have had a great pre-season. Maybe you could tell us what you look for when lining up the faceoff X. Read more
Home Grown Intern Kurt Hunziker
UMass is #2 in the country right now in Lacrosse, which is really unusual. And with UMass right down the road, so to speak, that will get a bunch of local kids all fired up. I’ve got an intern here, Kurt Hunziker, who’s been helping us out in the Home Grown office. Let’s get Kurt’s perspective as a Massachussetts kid who probably grew up rooting for UMass, since he’ll be going there this fall.
Coach Bryan (CB): Kurt, did you grow up rooting for UMass?
Kurt Hunziker (KH): Yes but not specifically.
CB: Who’s your favorite college lacrosse team?
KH: I don’t think I really have one. I think if I had to choose I’d say UMass because it’s local. But I wasn’t like a diehard Duke fan or anything like that.
CB: So now that you’ve been recruited there and you’ll be going there, are you following them more closely this year?
KH: Yes, a lot more.
CB: What’s that been like? Has it been fun to watch?
KH: Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun. Last spring, I went to 3 games. This spring I’ve been to more games and have read up on them weekly. I’ve been seriously looking into them.
CB: And you watched them play at Gillette this past weekend, right?
CB: That was pretty cool.
KH: That was very cool.
CB: You think they’ll be back there for the final four?
KH: Yeah, I hope so.
CB: What was it like getting recruited by Coach Kinell? (Head coach at Umass) and that whole process?
KH: IT was pretty cool. Coach Kinell was one of the reasons I chose to go to UMass. I really liked him from the get-go. He was always a good guy. He just seemed really genuine from the start. I also liked Doc Scneider (Assistant coach at Umass, and one of the best goalies to play the game) who also recruited me. That was kind of cool because he was like the younger perspective of it. He’s the coach that got along with the KHs, almost like the good cop.
CB: Yeah, no one is going to cross Kinell.
KH: Yeah, right! But Doc really connects with you and he’d call you or you could call him and just talk. That was good.
CB: It doesn’t hurt that he’s a world famous player too.
KH: Yeah, definitely.
CB: Let’s talk about the mascot season as a good way to tie it all together. Talk about how you’re doing and how the team is doing. And how you guys hope to turn it all around for playoffs.
KH: Yeah, I know. The season has been going well. Actin Boxboro was a big wakeup call that we needed. After that we got league play and are planning on winning the kayban league. We had a loss to Westford, which was tough. We need to become more disciplined and be careful with the penalties and stuff like that. So we’re definitely building as we go.
CB: What’s the record on the season right now?
CB: that’s good. How many points do you have this year?
KH: I think over 30.
CB: Cool. Any playoff goals or aspirations for the team?
KH: I want to go to Harvard (where the state championships are held every year).
KH: I want to match up with Duxbury.
CB: You guys got a good chance dude, if you can stop dropping bunnies to AV.
KH: I know!
CB: All right. Cool.
Coaches Interviews: Bryan Brazill
Bryan, you’ve been coaching for a quite a few years now. How and why did you get started in lacrosse? When did you discover that you loved it?
Ya know, my dad tells a different story than I tell. I am convinced that he pulled me out of the outfield in the middle of a baseball game in third grade and took me down to the old high school and signed me up for lacrosse. He says he was all set to coach a baseball team and then when we went to tryouts, which were held in the old gym I just walked away over to a guy in the corner who was playing lacrosse highlights and signing kids up for lacrosse. But either way, it started in third grade and there was only fifth and sixth grade lacrosse, so I played up for two years and just got destroyed- but loved it. It stuck quick.
Obviously lacrosse has developed into a long-term love affair. Did it develop slowly or did you know right away, wow, this is it for me?
No, you know, I was and still am into snowboarding and surfing a lot, and I liked lacrosse. I remember in 8th grade my dad played an April Fool’s Day trick on me and told me they weren’t letting kids with braces play that year. And I was so upset.
But I loved it. I had a great coach my senior year of high school. He’s the current head coach at Penn State, and he was the old University of Virginia defense coordinator, and for like a year in between he stopped in at Ridgefield High and coached me. I think that’s when I fell in love with lacrosse and he convinced me that I could play college lacrosse. Merrimack was great and when I got out of school I knew that I didn’t want to go into any sort of job that I didn’t love, which left three options really: surfing, lacrosse, or snowboarding. And I was most skilled at lacrosse, so that’s what I picked.
When did playing in Australia come in?
When I was in my sophomore year I broke my navicular bone, which, along with the femur, are the longest healing bones in the body, so I missed the whole season. You get 4 years of eligibility for college sports, so I took a medical redshirt year and decided to do 5 years at Merrimack. But I wasn’t behind in credits, so I took a fall semester off and went over to Australia and played for the New South Wales state team. We played all over Australia but I left before the World Games because only native-born Australians could play for the state teams at that time, so my buddy and I went over to Hawaii and played in the Hawaii Invitational as the two international exceptions that year. We also played in a tournament out there and were named as members of the international all-star team, which was pretty cool.
When did you start coaching?
I started coaching in Middle School, where I coached my sister’s basketball team. And I loved it. In high school I coached a bunch of youth basketball teams. In college I coached a little bit of youth lacrosse, little bit of high school lacrosse, and did a lot of camps and stuff. When I got out of College I stayed on board with Merrimack for a little while and then went to Haverhill. I’ve just always loved coaching. I like working with kids.
So what made you decide to start Home Grown?
I didn’t want to be involved in traditional business, really. And I knew that I liked coaching. In the beginning, I liked coaching individuals more than I liked coaching teams. No one was doing it. No one was saying, “All right, Johny, you’re a pretty good player. But if you were to work on the finer points of dodging and shooting, and we could improve your lacrosse IQ and your vision of the field, you could be an awesome player!” I really liked doing that. And that’s what started Home Grown.
When we got started we had like a bowling alleys worth of turf 150 ft. long and it was just net, net, net, and we just went private lesson, private lesson, private lesson. It was just me and my buddy Tim Murphy, and then Pete Smyth came in really quickly after that as an intern for us, and then Corrine after that. And then it just snowballed from there- we had too much demand that we couldn’t fill so we expanded the field and morphed the business and we all got into coaching team lacrosse and loved that. And then the academy was quickly born.
So what does a normal day look like for a lacrosse coach and business owner?
Ha, busy. I usually wake up and stretch for an hour to get all the knots out of my back from shooting on goalies all day. Then I get into Home Grown and deal with voicemails and emails, take care of accounting, market whatever we’ve got going on, do promotions, generally have a couple of recruiting meetings with parents and players about what’s going on in the recruiting process for that kid and what they need to continue doing, along with what they’re doing well. Then I usually shoot over to Merrimack for a two hour practice. Then the coaches and I will chalk talk for an hour or two because we can’t help ourselves. Then I’ll probably come back, answer a few more emails and phone calls, and do a private lesson. It’s a long day.
What’s your favorite part about what you do?
The most fun for me is watching a light come on when a kid figures something out. I love when a kid just goes “oh, I understand what you’ve been telling me, I understand why I need to do it, I understand how I need to do it, and I’m pumped because it’s working.” That’s my favorite thing, when they just get a dodge, or all of a sudden their hands are placed in a better location and they start shooting harder and more accurately… or if it’s like a big picture thing, and you’re like, “hey, listen, off ball, when this is happening, you should be doing this” and then you see them do it in a game and get a goal off of it or a nice assist… that’s the best part about what I do…. And I don’t have to put on a suit and tie. Ever.
Home Grown’s Chris Barchard Playing Lacrosse in Scotland
Chris Barchard, Home Grown’s intern this summer, is taking off to Scotland this Friday for ten days to play lacrosse. We caught up with Chris at the office.
Chris, give us some background: how’d you get hooked up with HGL?
I went to Home Grown’s first clinic. My friend was going because he wanted to play for the team—he was in high school. But I went to the first youth clinic because he told me about it.
How did you find out about the internship here?
I played for the lacrosse academy team; that’s how I got the internship. I played for Bryan all the way through high school.
Where are you attending college now?
I currently attend Nichols College and am majoring in sports management.
What’s the thing you love most about playing lacrosse?
All through high school, I’ve been on great teams with a family atmosphere where it’s not like “Oh, you’re older than me, so I’m going to treat you like a freshman.” I’ve always been on a close-knit team and I think that’s what has kept me going all the way through high school to college now.
So you’re leaving for Scotland this Friday for ten days. What is it you’re going to play in and how did the trip come about?
I got an email inviting me to play in the 2012 Scottish Friendship Tournament. The company that runs it is USAAI (United States of America Athletes International). I researched the company and it was all legit. They send teams for every big college sport over to Europe, Asia, and sometimes Australia to play in these Friendship Tournaments and tour the major tourist spots.
We had to fund-raise $4,000 for the trip. There were a bunch of fundraising options the company set up. Five kids on my Division 3 team were also invited. There are also kids from Plymouth State and New York going, so they pick a region every year to invite.
The $4,000 is all inclusive with two meals a day. We’re going on a bunch of sightseeing tours including some Scottish castles and St. Andrew’s Golf Course. So it’s not just a tournament. You play four games and whoever has the best record at the end of it wins. They’re just friendship matches. That’s what they also call them in soccer.
We’ll also be acting as US ambassadors. All the teams from the touring site travel together, so there’s a pretty strict policy of what we do when we’re not on our free time. So it’s a pretty serious thing when it comes to that. But we also have free time every night after our game to go hang out with the team and tour the city by ourselves. It’s a great way to get to play a sport you love and get to represent your country.
What Middle School Kids Need to Know to Become Great Lacrosse Players
What attitude and skills are important for a Middle School player to start developing to become a great lacrosse player?
Most middle school lacrosse players need to think in terms of keeping it simple. They get caught up in the flash of the game, and then the highlights. But what they don’t realize is that the guys they see making flashy plays have worked hard at building up exceptional fundamentals. The great players start with a great foundation. They typically use the flashy stuff as a last resort or when something opened up where they had to get flashy.
As far as attitude goes – you’ve got to be willing to keep learning. So many Middle School and High School kids think there’s nothing left for them to learn. Great college players learn something every day at upper level practices and games. Even with myself, I’ve been playing the game since I was nine and I still learn new stuff almost every time I play. I’m extremely open to adapting and evolving my game, I take a lot of my game from other players, incorporate things they do well, I also learn from friends and coaches all the time and I stay open to their advice.
So you’re always watching other people with the intention of seeing what you can pick up for yourself to learn more?
Constantly. All the best players I know are doing this. I find so often that young kids confuse still having stuff to learn with being bad or remedial. I think you can be an exceptional player and always have things to learn. Just because you need to be taught things and improve things doesn’t mean that you’re not already very good. You can be both. You can be learning AND good.
The sport has changed so much in the last ten years and will change so much more in the next ten years. If you’re standing still, you’re getting left behind. Some kids think they’ve got it all because they can catch and throw and shoot underhand. But not all kids are like that. I just had a lesson with three unbelievably talented 8th graders and they were like sponges just soaking up everything I said. They were really impressive, talented kids and they were there to learn and they got a lot better throughout the lesson. Now they’re even further ahead of their peers. All kids need to learn how to keep their egos in check and be open to realizing there’s always room for improvement.
In terms of physical conditioning, what does a Middle School kid need to be thinking of for a long-term career in lacrosse?
They’re probably not quite ready for weight lifting. They can be doing light stuff to start developing the habit of being in the gym. Starting to do push-ups, sit-ups, planks, pull-ups, body weight stuff, but they shouldn’t be banging around weights because a because their bodies are still developing. They want to wait until they’re pretty far through their final growth spurt before they start seriously lifting. But it’s a very physically demanding sport and they need to be well-conditioned. They can always be running long distances, although that’s a skewed term because anything over 4 miles isn’t best for lacrosse. It’s better to be at 3 ½ miles or under and pick up the pace, instead of going further distances at a steady jog. Lacrosse is more of a sprint/rest oriented game like basketball, with jogging in between. So, circuit training is great, where they’re doing different speed sprints around a track for different lengths of time.
At the middle school level I wouldn’t get crazy obsessed with being in shape. If they’ve got a weight issue that’s something else. But I recommend a 2 mile jog: go out a mile cradling the stick in the right hand, come back a mile cradling the stick in the left hand. With headphones on, jog real hard for one song, and when the next song comes on take it down a little bit and jog slow and recover, repeat this process every time the song changes. Really, if they go up a mile with the stick in their right hand with good stick protection, and back a mile with the stick in their left hand with good stick protection, they’re still developing skills and getting some fitness in. They’re not going crazy about it. It’s a nice mix.
You seem to be saying that kids don’t have to be miserable in boot camp to play lacrosse well.
You’ll get a million people who will tell you that’s what they need to do, be miserable. It couldn’t be further from the truth. That’s the worst. If sports aren’t fun – get out! I believe in keeping it sane.
What do kids need to look out for with coaches, to know whether they should be thinking about changing?
There are a lot of terrible coaches. Kids see through personalities better than anybody. They’ll know what they don’t like personality-wise. Many coaches at the youth level like to make black and white rules for a gray sport. A common black and white rule they’ll enforce is: “You always have to shoot overhand. And there is logic to that, because if a kid shoots overhand and he misses low, he’s still putting it on cage. If he misses extremely low, it turns into a bounce shot and it’s still going on cage. So, they’re trying to hedge their bets with young kids, but they’re not teaching kids how to think at that age, which is part of the problem.
There are coaches who don’t give these kids all the information they need to be able to start thinking through which shot to use when. The reality is if you’re shooting overhand that’s great, because you can change planes high to low and left to right. But you can do the same thing underhand. And you can do the same thing three-quarters. The only shot that’s not good is a straight side-arm shot because you can’t change planes vertically, only left and right. So, if you give kids this information and say, “Hey, start working on your underhand shot, start working on your three-quarter shot, and continue to work on your overhand shot,” they’re going to be better players by the time they need all those shots.
Now, if a kid stinks at his underhand shot, you can say, “Listen, continue to work on that but keep that in the bag during games.” But most coaches just keep it black and white—“Only shoot overhand all the time—bounce shots.” So you get a kid at the college level who can only shoot overhand, and that’s not good.
Our best player at Merrimack college had a totally black and white coach going through youth and high school, and to break him of the bounce shot was a big struggle. Now the kid is snapping low to high shots and picking corners five times a game, whereas before he was throwing bounce shots, which is basically leaving everything up to chance. And this kid was one of the best pure shooters I’ve ever seen. He could pick a spot and beat you there, and instead he’s throwing bounce shots, hoping that he just gets the goalie jumping low and bouncing it over him.
So, black and white coaches aren’t really helping these kids in the long term. Because I understand the value of explaining the variables, my answer to a lot of questions is going to be, “It depends.” And then I’m going to explain when and why a player should do this in this situation and that in that situation.