MILA Gears Up For Year Two

Last year was full of lacrosse growth, with new leagues popping up all over the place. The two that got the most press were CLax and the North American Lacrosse League, but one that might of been overlooked by many was the Midwest Indoor Lacrosse Association.

The MILA may not be at the professional level that some of the other leagues are at, but they are bringing box lacrosse to an area that hasn’t historically seen a ton of the sport. Four teams participated in the first ever MILA season, the Chicago Outlaws, Milwaukee Marauders, Grand Rapids Dragonfish, and the Columbus Lacrosse Club. The season ended with the Dragonfish being crowned the first ever champions.

Most of the teams play out of indoor soccer or rec venues and the teams are mainly financially supported by the players. The first season was quite successful, and has led to much growth for season number two. The league has jumped from four teams to eleven, spreading themselves across the Midwest. Expansion for this season has concluded with the season only a few weeks away.

“Expansion is done for the 2012 season,” said MILA commissioner Chip Rossetti. “We are still looking at bringing on a couple of exhibition teams out in the West, if anyone is interested in playing a game or two against Colorado.” The Sabretooths, based in Colorado, is the most western member of the league. They are the first member of a Western Division, which the league hopes to expand on in the future.

“It is a work in progress,” said Rossetti about the future of the Western Division.  “We have actually had a lot of interest from all over the place and we feel confident that we are going to be able to add a few new Divisions for the 2013 season, including the Western Division.”

With the addition of Colorado the league also created some ties to the NLL with involvement from the Mammoth. The head coach of the Sabretooths will be former Mammoth star Brian Langtry. Mammoth GM Steve Govett and coach Robert Hamley are also involved in the franchise. This is a great sign for the future of the MILA as a developmental lacrosse league.

“That has been one of our goals from the very beginning,” stated Rossetti. “To give players a chance and work on their games, with the idea that, if they improve they could possibly get invites to pro training camps. We had six guys playing in the MILA that ended up playing in the NLL, NALL, or CLax teams last season. That is what we are here for, to help these guys enhance their games and move up.”

Another main goal of the league is to help growth of box lacrosse in the Midwest. On the topic of expanded growth Rossetti explained, “one of the things that we said right from the beginning is that, here in the Midwest, we have more good facilities then we do higher level players. Because of that we could not set up really competitive house leagues.” Because of this they decided to go a different direction.

“We decided to put together a travel league and have each city try to recruit the best players in their areas to play for them.  We have seen a lot of success in that.  Players are having an opportunity to continue to play at a higher level, right in their own towns.  We also see it as a opportunity to introduce the game to some new potential fans.  Bring in new people.”

The league’s growth has tapped interest for year number two, showing the great growth in the area. “In our first season we had to hunt down teams to compete in the MILA.” Continued Rossetti, “For year two, now that people know that we exist, teams came to us with interest.  That is fantastic.  Even now, a few weeks from the start of the season, we are still hearing from people that are interested in fielding teams in 2013 and we have already started taking market reservations.  This is an affordable way to own a team and a great way to introduce the sport to your community.”

Some MILA members have been playing against non-MILA opponents in the league’s off-season, most notably the Chicago Outlaws. The Outlaws faced off with the Kentucky Stickhorses this winter at Freedom Hall and are planning on facing the US Development Team at the Sears Center in the coming weeks. The US Development team will be playing a team of MILA All-Stars as well. Rossetti explained that the league is totally for non-league play.

“We want our teams to be able to compete year round, if they choose to,” he clarified. “ We also want to give the teams and the league as much exposure as we can.  Playing the Stickhorses was a great opportunity for the Outlaw players to play against some higher level competition in a bigger facility.  To give our players a taste of what the higher levels are like.  The upcoming games against the US Development team is the same thing.  It is a fantastic way to showcase our league and our players.”

The league is only weeks away from the season that starts on August 4th. The league schedule was announced recently. For more information you can visit the league website.

In conclusion, Rossetti left me with one final statement regarding the MILA. “We are very excited about season two of the MILA, and even more excited about the growth of the indoor game as a result of what we are doing.  We are showing that you don’t need a huge market, a ton of money and an enormous facility to have a team.  This game is growing and the more it grows the more places we are going to need for players to play.  That is one of the things that the MILA is all about.”

In Lacrosse We Trust will be covering the MILA as the season goes along, so make sure to check out all of the coverage.