By Steve Guglielmo | 3/27/12 5:30 AM
MLL's Steve Guglielmo caught up with Hamilton Nationals Head Coach Regy Thorpe to discuss the upcoming season. Thorpe is the only veteran coach heading into this season with a full 2011 MLL season under his belt.
Well I think certainly the number of great players has increased as the college game keeps expanding and guys are getting better and better. I think the level of competition amongst the younger guys coming into the league has just been awesome. They’re coming in out of college very well prepared for the MLL and competing with guys who have been in the MLL for a couple of years. I think there has definitely been more competition to enter the league amongst younger players.
I think it definitely has helped me. Coming into the league when it first started as a player and then being a player-coach, then an assistant coach and now a head coach, I know what the guys go through. Obviously during the course of the week I understand what they go through as far as working a full-time job and having a family and kids, or whatever it may be. I certainly can relate to that and we’re always trying to be cautious of our practices and timing and stuff like that.
I think the biggest thing for the college guys is that you don’t have six days per week to prepare for a game. You have to do the workouts on your own. Obviously we provide some base scout stuff but for the most part they need to take care of themselves and juggle their schedule with their full-time job and prepare for the game. And then obviously a lot of the guys are traveling, sometimes across country, so they need to prepare during the week both mentally and physically and they just don’t have those six days to prepare like in college.
I think just some of the philosophies from Coach Simmons Jr. that he brought to the game. At the end of the day, you still have to have fun, even though it’s pro and guys are getting paid. At the end of the day you still have to enjoy the game and keep it fun for the guys and I think that we have a pretty good locker room atmosphere and certainly we try to keep it fun and be passionate about it. I thought our guys really cared about each other last year and I thought we built some good chemistry and my hope is to continue that family atmosphere that Coach Simmons always had with us at Syracuse and making it fun and letting guys be creative and get up and down but play within the system there. That’s the biggest thing I took from it.
I think it’s important. I think having a locker room that guys can say stuff to one another and not take it personal and keep it in house when things aren’t going good. We got off to a slow start last year and we were developing chemistry but we weren’t winning games. We were building chemistry and some times it takes some losses to build that character. I think that by the end of the year the guys really cared about one another and certainly we took our lumps early and we lost some faces from last year and we added some new ones but the core of our guys are going to be back and we’re very excited about that and hopefully we can keep building on our chemistry.
I think it certainly, with adding a couple of teams and a lot of activity and new coaches and new players and everything, our level of preparation is going to have to get cranked up. It certainly is going to be super-competitive and I think just the level of preparation is going to have to increase, not only from the coaching staff but also from the players as well, as we go into having the 8 teams this season.
I think the guys being familiar with each other and familiar with the organization will help. I think certainly we’re looking to build on some positive things that we did last year. And certainly we’re excited that the guys are going to know each other a little bit better, and are being a little bit more sure and getting to know how the organization works. Certainly there are going to be some moving parts the first couple of weeks of the season because we have a lot of guys who play indoor. We’ll be scrambling a little bit there. But we’re excited about the guys that are going to be there and seeing what they can do and what they can prove.
I think that our expectations are to win a championship. My expectations of our staff and our guys and the organization are to yes, win a championship, but to enjoy the process. Take it game-by-game and day-by-day and prepare for our first opponent, which is Denver. The expectations are to win a championship but I think our expectations are to just enjoy the process and take one game at a time.