Today we start our new features, Coaches Corner, where we talk to coaches around the league about their teams and any other story lines associated with the team. We start off the series with one of the newer professional lacrosse head coaches, Randy Fraser.
Fraser was announced as the first head coach of the New Jersey Rascals, one of the four members of the Professional Lacrosse League. Fraser comes with a lot of great experience, both on and off the field. He played 11 seasons in the NLL for the Boston Blazers, New York Saints, and Buffalo Bandits. Past his playing career he’s coached on various levels, including serving as the Springfield defensive coach and an assistant coach for the Boston Cannons, New York Titans, Boston Blazers, Team USA, and the Boston Rockhoppers.
An American who succeeded in box will try to teach others to do so as well, as most of the Rascals players won’t have the most indoor experience. Of course that is one of the goals of the league, teaching American players the indoor style of the game.
“It is a challenge for any player to adjust from field to box lacrosse,” said Fraser. Â “The game itself and the skills needed to be successful are very different fromÂ fieldÂ to box. There are some common attributes that will lead to a more likely hood of success in theÂ transition. First thing has got to be aÂ commitmentÂ to success, in terms of being committed to the process of learning a new game, it is a long andÂ challengingÂ endeavor.Â At the highest levels players must possess a certain level ofÂ athleticism, stick skills, toughness, and decision makingÂ abilitiesÂ to be successful.”
Of course this is not only a challenge for the players, but one for the coaches as well. Not only does the staff have to introduce and teach the sport to the beginners, but they also have to make sure the more experienced players are improving their play as well.
“As coaches it is ofÂ courseÂ challenging to teach the new players the game but equally important is keep the more experienced players knowledge and skills, growing and improving,” Fraser told me. “We will coach the basics of the game and drill those basics until they become second nature. The fundamentalsÂ of box lacrosse are not overlyÂ complicatedÂ and the best teams do theÂ fundamentalÂ things constantly well. Our goal as staff and as an organization is to become a model box lacrosse team that will play a tough,Â fundamentallyÂ sound, high energy style of box lacrosse.”
The Rascals, and the entire PLL for the most part, has made a splash by drafting some of the biggest young names in American lacrosse in the Collegiate Draft. New Jersey acquired the rights to players such as CJ Constabile, Colin Briggs, Tommy Palasek, and Ryan Young. These players all have the skills, but it is still up in the air whether they will play this fall.
“All of the players we selected in the college draft posses all of the athleticism and skills required to be successful box players, they have proven that in college and the MLL,” said Fraser about his drafted players. “The uncertainly still lies in whether they are going toÂ commitÂ themselves to the challenge. We will be releasing our training camp roster soon.”
When it comes to players, we should be expecting some Rascals to be made official in the coming days. “We are completing paperwork on several signees, anÂ announcementÂ will be released shortly.”
Another of the bigger names tied to the Rascals is Jeremy Seiverts, who was selected in the Dispersal draft. Seiverts has had a breakout season with the Denver Outlaws of the MLL, scoring 26 goals and 5 assists. He is currently second on the team in scoring. Before this season the most points he had in one season with six. Fraser has been very pleased with his play so far.
“I have watched Jeremy a lot this summer and have been very impressed with his skills and desire to get into the tough areas with the ball.”
Another player that the Rascals picked up in the dispersal draft was Josh Rachman, who also played with the Boston Rockhoppers of the NALL last Winter. Fraser is veryÂ familiarÂ with Rachman and is glad to have him on the squad.
“I have coached Josh for many years now,” he said.”Josh bring great defensive play and the ability to lead to the team. Josh brings a quite calmness to the team and in a game of big UPS and DOWN this is great attribute to possess. He also bring the body and plays with great aggression and strength.”
Overall the Professional Lacrosse League and the Rascals are trying to spread the sport of box lacrosse through the United States, and New Jersey is an interesting market to start from. New Jersey does have a history with professional lacrosse with the New Jersey Pride of the MLL and New Jersey Storm of the NLL. However neither team remains in Jersey, but Fraser isÂ optimisticÂ that it is a good market to work from.
“I think its a great market for two reasons,” he began. “First being the surrounding Trenton area is rich in lacrosse and sports fans that can easily get to our games via train or car. Second being theÂ PhiladelphiaÂ Wings being rightÂ acrossÂ the river, box lacrosse is not new to the area and the great Wings fans will hopefully be supporting our organization.”
Lacrosse is all about exposure, and the PLL is hoping to help out with the exposure of indoor lacrosse. The league hopes that their success will help the sport as a whole.
“Box lacrosse is such a great game to play and watch that the more exposure it receive the more popular it will become, it is contagious,” stated Fraser. “I feel that any avenue thatÂ expandsÂ the sports awareness is a good thing for everyone. The more people areÂ exposedÂ to the sport the more that will be playing and watching. The growth of box lacrosse in the US will only be limited be a lack of availability.”
Fraser closed things out by thanking the people who have helped him get to this point in lacrosse.
“I would also like to thank and recognize some of my mentors and role models that have led me to where I am today – Ron Fraser -Dad, Hall of Fame lacrosse player and Blazers original head coach, Bruce Babenzien – step-dad – a great High School lacrosse coach and great mentor of coachingÂ fundamentals, Marty O’neill, – teammate with Blazers, thought me the real box game, Darris Kilgore – Coached me as Bandit -taught me so much about being tough and giving everything I had 100% of the time. John Tavaras- teammate with the Bandits- Box offense and unselfishness, Troy Corrindingly – played against, and he coached me with the Bandits – passion for winning and intensity. My three years with the Bandits changed my life forever – all my teammates(including HOF or soon to be HOF -Chugger, Mcready, Acursi, Richie) and the way we all practiced and played together was something that opened my eyes to the way teams could be with the right people involved. I learned the game and whats its all about in Buffalo. Dan Dawson – I coached him for 3 year with the Blazers – the value of family/team and the power of trust. Tom Ryan – teammate, coached with Blazers and Team USA – my good friend who gave me shot at coaching at the highest level, I learned so much from Tom and with Tom as we built the Blazers and Team USA together.”
The Rascals start their season on September 14th at home against the Reading Rockets. Tickets are available at the Rascals’ website for the team’s six games at the Sun Center. The PLL coverage continues here on InLacrosseWeTrust as we inch closer and closer to the season. Coming later this week is a profile on Rascals defenseman Josh Rachman.