The Calgary Roughnecks opened their training camp on Friday, with team meetings and medicals taking place in the morning and on-field sessions Friday afternoon, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon.
Camp will continue next weekend with sessions in Langley, BC and then a third weekend of camps will be held in Oakville, ON Dec. 13-15. Along the way, the Roughnecks will play three scrimmages against the Vancouver Stealth (Dec. 6), the Minnesota Swarm (Dec. 14) and the defending-champion Rochester Knighthawks (Dec. 15).
The focus for the players going into this first weekend of training camp was conditioning and fitness. With a longer season and a smaller roster, the players understand that they need to be in better shape than ever before.
Said reigning NLL MVP Shawn Evans, “With this year, there’s going to be less players on the bench. You gotta be a lot more in shape.”
Transition Geoff Snider echoed that sentiment. “The team that’s gonna be the most dangerous is the one that stays the healthiest. A commitment to training and a commitment to fitness and staying fresh ultimately is what is going to win a team a championship.”
Head coach Curt Malawsky feels the three-week camp format will help the players by allowing them to better manage their personal time while also giving the coaching staff a chance to start installing systems and strategies to see how the players will respond.
“We changed things up a little bit, trying to think about some of the eastern guys you gotta fly home to their families, so we’re trying to get everything in and done in a couple days,” said Malawsky. “It’s going to be a real good balance between the family time and the competitive lacrosse training camp.
“We’re gonna do a lot of situational stuff. We’re gonna get right into the systems. We’re not gonna spend a lot of time with the up and downs; we’re gonna make sure that we’re really moving forward and make the best use of our three weeks of camp and our three exhibition games.”
As noted by Malawsky, camp time wasted little time on basic drill work, diving right into offensive and defensive schemes, working on end-to-end transitions, four-on-four play, executing and adjusting to pick-and-roll plays, etc. The camp I observed was high energy and kept the athletes moving as much as possible with only a few breaks for coaching and instruction.
Encouragingly, it appeared that newcomers such as first-round draft pick Tor Reinholdt, and second-round picks Karsen Leung and Garrett McIntosh did not look out of place in amongst the veterans, so they will be pushing hard to earn roster spots in the next few weeks.
The final roster will be announced on Dec. 16, so the clock is already ticking on who will make it and who will move on.