The UCBLL (Upstate Collegiate Box Lacrosse League) began its inaugural season with an intense, fast-paced combine last Monday at The Blue Cross Arena.
The combine consisted of players from Upstate New York, Canada, and even Fukuoka, Japan. The players hail from universities and colleges like Johns Hopkins, Albany, R.I.T., and Onondaga Community College, to name a few.
The evening started with some light jogging to get the blood flowing, followed by odd-man rush drills, where the offense practiced breakouts and the defense practiced discipline defending their zone. The combine finished the evening with a scrimmage capped off by a shootout.
For many of these players, this was their first time playing lacrosse since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am most excited to play. After a year off, I have just been watching game footage every week, wanting to get back on the field. And now it is going to be the opportunity to think about that year and use it on the field,” said goalie Will Dempsey, who will attend Onondaga Community College.
“Back at home with COVID, there is no lacrosse right now. I think this is a great opportunity to have my stick in my hand 3-4 times a week. I am very happy I am able to keep playing, keep improving, and getting these great coaches to help me out more,” said Luke Pilcher, who plays for R.I.T. and the Junior A Burlington Chiefs.
Since many players have more experience in field lacrosse, coaches Jordan Jarvis, Bradley Voigt, Brendan Bombery and Ron Cogan were constantly teaching the nuances and fundamentals to box lacrosse.
“The movement is a lot different from field lacrosse. You get to use your body more, which is more of my style of play, and you have to give everything you have. It was enjoyable to learn a new style,” said Zachary Terry from Queens University of Charlotte.
The combine showed the coaches that the talent is certainly present, but being up close and personal with the players allows the coaches to access their qualitative traits.
“I saw a lot of enthusiasm today, and they are happy to be out there. A lot of them have been playing field lacrosse. Now, to come inside the box, they showed a lot of enthusiasm, energy, and competitiveness. It was a lot of fun to be out there and be part of it, and I am definitely looking forward to the season,” said Bomberry.
The first game of the season is Wednesday, June 16, at 6:00 p.m. as the Armory takes on the Hawkeyes.