The COVID-19 social distancing has given players, coaches and team staff alike, some time to step back from our day-to-day roles and reflect on everything we are thankful for amidst the current social climate. The individual relationships forged, the corresponding community building happening, and the growing awareness of Lacrosse in the Martimes are all positives worthy of celebrating and seeds we Thunderbirds intend to sow.
The medicine game of lacrosse is beautiful in that it continues to be a physical, mental and spiritual outlet for all of those involved, even within the parameters of being quarantined. The lacrosse community has come together yet again, quite noticeably on social media, with it's message of positivity and love, even from a distance. It is the trying times like these, that remind us as players and staff that you are truly never alone when you have your stick at your side.
There have been a lot of posts about “Wall Ball” regimes being shared on social media, so that’s where we will start with our new Lax 101 blog, every Thursday moving forward. We have been receiving a lot of requests for things beginner lacrosse players can do to stay sharp with their lacrosse fundamentals, and over the next 10+ weeks or so, Halifax Thunderbirds’ #12 Chet Koneczny, will treat us to an in depth look at what is possible given the parameters with which we are faced.
“I see things from the lens of a player who had a late entry into the sport (age 14) and sort of had to play catch up in terms of lacrosse IQ. I was a real student of the game right from the beginning.”
Koneczny is now the most accredited lacrosse coach in the country, the only coach holding an Advanced Coaching Diploma from the NCCP, which is Canada’s gold standard.
Growing up in Nova Scotia, Chet began playing hockey for the Bedford Blues at the age of 5. It was not until his dad was transferred back to Ontario that Koneczny learned of the sport of lacrosse. Even then, it wasn't until until some of his hockey buddies started sharing lacrosse stories in the locker room that Chet began to really think twice about the sport.
“I kept saying I would play the next season and finally my buddies called me out and said ya ya, sure, you’ve been saying that you are going to play for years now. I fell in love with it immediately.”
Koneczny was a multi-sport athlete playing AAA hockey at the time, and was also the starting Quarterback on his high school football team.
“It came to a point where I had to make a choice. I didn’t get drafted in the O for hockey, which was my first major adversity in sport at that point. I was QB on my high school team, being recruited by York University; and lacrosse was offering scholarships, even though I had only been playing 3 years at that point.”
“I ended up giving up on my first love, which was hockey. The next year the York football team told me I had to choose between them or my lacrosse team, who was playing in a national championship during their training camp. So the decision was basically made for me.”
Koneczny went on to win the Founders Cup (Canadian Jr. B National Championship) that year, and never looked back in his lacrosse pursuits. He continued on to play for the Orangeville Northmen Jr. A team, and credits the notorious Sanderson lacrosse family, for his rise to the professional ranks.
“Lindsay & Josh coached me in junior. Then Terry gave me my first shot in pro at age 21. There I was teammates with Flip & Josh, and then in senior ball Phil coached me as well; Brandon and I have been coaching together for years. They taught me how to be a pro.”
Koneczny went on to obtain a Kinesiology degree at York University in 2007, while on the practice roster for the Toronto Rock. In 2009, he obtained a Bachelor’s of Education from the University of Windsor, and he also holds a C.S.C.S, which is a gold standard in the Strength & Conditioning world. Education, specifically sport science, has also been his first priority while pursuing his professional lacrosse career.
“Any time I had a project in school, I always found a way to do it on some aspect of lacrosse. Now, I’m more interested in leadership and coaching research.”
“At this point, I’m kind of like the jack of all trades when it comes to lacrosse,” says Koneczny. “Name your problem, in any facet of the game, and I’ve got resources for you.”
Koneczny and his company Laxlife Inc., have been “documenting” indoor lacrosse since the launch of their website (www.laxlife.ca) in 2013. He considers it a “knowledge management project,” and has attempted to document every skill, drill, play, system, and term, and package it up in a user friendly way. The current update slated for April 7 will put the website up to 50+ (from 30) premade practice plans, 20 of which are FREE beginner plans (formerly 7). You also have the ability to create your own drills and plays, practice plans and playbooks.
“Partnering with the Thunderbirds on this project to help build the infrastructure at the grassroots level of the game makes total sense for us. Even though our website is a subscription-based platform, all of our beginner content is free. Our overall intention is to use our technologies to help build the game from the ground up.”
“The real trick is to create developmentally-appropriate practices that are fun and engaging,” Chet professes. “Also, digitally integrated.”
As a professional sports team in market, we owe it to the community to educate players and fans on the sport to the best of our ability. In a digital world, having the resources that Chet has put together will help fans of all ages better grasp the game they are watching on the floor.
“There are lots of backyard lacrosse possibilities for getting better. Our website, and life's work is a preferred method for player & coach development and it is a great tool for any lacrosse lover to get better for when organized sports are back and rolling.”
Stay tuned for Koneczny’s first blog on the “fundies” of lacrosse beginning this upcoming Thursday
In the meantime, www.laxlife.ca for a variety of educational drills and plans, available to players, coaches, and fans of all skill levels.