January 5th, 2012 9:30 AM CST: Joe Ernst sits alone in his home office in Georgetown, TX. AnyoneÂ who has ever spent any time around Joe knows that during the business day he never stops working.
Usually, he is addressing two or three tasks simultaneously and he only pauses long enough to provideÂ his body with the fuel it needs to continue at this frantic pace. Today is different. The office does notÂ echo with the distinctive sound of his fingers punishing his laptopâ€™s keyboard. Today, the office isÂ quiet. Joe sits at is desk, his face fixed in a contemplative expression, as he gazes out the window thatÂ overlooks his backyard. Suddenly, the deliberation is over and Joe begins hammering away at his laptop.Â Joe Ernst just decided to bring authentic, Canadian-style boxla to Texas.
Bringing legitimate box lacrosse to the Lone Star State is an ambitious undertaking by any standard.Â Fortunately, Joe is the perfect man for the job. A native of Buffalo, NY, Joe has been playing lacrosseÂ since he was eight-years-old, and he has played box for most of his life. He received a substantialÂ scholarship to play NCAA DI lacrosse at Siena College. After graduating with a degree in finance, JoeÂ worked on Wall Street; however, the game was always his true passion. He left the corporate world toÂ pursue a career in coaching. Joe coached at the collegiate level for 12 years before deciding that it wasÂ time to bring the Canadian box game to the Great State.
In order to make his vision a reality, Joe founded the Texas Box Lacrosse Association (TBLA). The missionÂ of the TBLA is to provide an authentic, Canadian-style box lacrosse experience and raise the level of playÂ in the state of Texas through competitive and instructional programs. The TBLA has just concluded itsÂ inaugural Summer Season, and they are ramping up for their 2012 Fall Season. The company has noticedÂ a significant increase in the interest in box lacrosse throughout the course of their Summer Season, andÂ they hope to see that trend continue. The Texas Box lacrosse Association conducts programs in Austin,Â Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. In their inaugural season they had over 300 members across fourÂ markets. The company anticipates their registration numbers to be markedly higher for the upcomingÂ Fall Season.
â€œWe want to help Texas get to the next level and be able to compete on a national level. One great wayÂ to do this is through box lacrosse and the myriad of skills it brings to the field game. We arenâ€™t looking toÂ just do â€œindoorâ€ lacrosse, we are bringing authentic Canadian box lacrosse to Texas. This is something noÂ one has done before and with the NCAA coaches all boasting the box skills and recruiting them and theÂ popularity of guys like Mark Matthews, John Grant Jr, etc. we think this will really take off here.â€ saidÂ Ernst
The TBLA specifically trains its referees to use modified CLA box rules and also trains its coaches inÂ the box game in order to provide the most authentic boxla experience possible. The TBLA offers threeÂ divisions: a Youth Academy, High School Division, and Senior A/B Division.
When asked about the possible impact that box lacrosse could have in Texas, University of VirginiaÂ Menâ€™s Lacrosse Head Coach, Dom Starsia, had the following to say:
â€œThe best way for young players to accelerate the development of their skills would be exposure to boxÂ lacrosse. It is fun and it is helpful. I can hardly think of a more productive way for lacrosse in Texas toÂ improve.â€
The TBLA introduced the Youth Academy for the 2012 Fall Season due to observations made by theÂ TBLA staff during the inaugural Summer Season. The company decided that a greater emphasis on skillÂ development would be more beneficial for the younger players. Each Youth Academy session will beÂ approximately half skills/box lacrosse instruction and half scrimmage and game play in a â€˜house leagueâ€™Â format. As the Texas Box Lacrosse Association grows and their young players learn the box game, theyÂ hope to transition this age group into a true league format.
While the High School Division retains its instructional component for the Fall Season, the TBLA hasÂ shifted the emphasis to gameplay for this age group. The TBLA was pleased to observe a markedÂ improvement in box-specific skills in the High School Division during the Summer Season.
One of TBLAâ€™s goals is that, by next summer, youth and high school player development will be at a levelÂ that makes it appropriate for them to take a TBLA â€˜all-starâ€™ team from each age group up to Canada toÂ play; and, to be in a position to host Canadian teams that would like to travel down to Texas to play inÂ Texas.
The Senior A/B Division is a strictly competitive league with no instructional component. WhetherÂ league play is in a team format or weekly drop-inâ€™s, is determined by registration, and the preference ofÂ the players in that market. The TBLA makes every attempt to be as accommodating as possible when itÂ comes to the desires and needs of their members.
It comes as no surprise that box-specific protective gear is not readily available in Texas. As it is theÂ TBLAâ€™s mandate to provide comprehensive support for every aspect of their memberâ€™s needs, theyÂ sought out a retailer that, not only offered the finest box lacrosse equipment available, but also hadÂ a rich history and comprehensive understanding of authentic, Canadian-style boxla. The Texas BoxÂ Lacrosse Association found those characteristics in Fierce Lacrosse; and, the two companies formed aÂ partnership in order to make box lacrosse equipment readily available to TBLA members at affordableÂ prices.
The TBLA recently hosted its first Pro Series Clinic Featuring Kyle Harrison and Sam Bradman. The TexasÂ Box Lacrosse Association is proud to be hosting more Pro Series Clinics during the 2012 Fall SeasonÂ featuring box legend John Grant Jr. and young Canadian lacrosse phenom Mark Matthews.
Every member of the TBLA staff is passionate about growing the game of lacrosse; and, they are alwaysÂ looking for opportunities to collaborate with like-minded individuals and organizations.