MLL recently caught up with former MLL star Jay Jalbert to discuss his documentary “There and Back,” which will air May 8 and 9 on ESPNU at 6:30 p.m. ET. Jalbert and his company Jalbert Productions have teamed up with Little Brother of War Entertainment to document the Virginia men’s lacrosse program as they defend their NCAA National Championship title.
Jalbert is a former two-time first-team USILA All-American at Virginia and joined MLL in its inaugural year, playing for six seasons. He played for the New Jersey Pride from 2001-2002 and the Long Island Lizards from 2003-2006. Former MLL star Jesse Hubbard was also involved in the production, who played in the league for eight years, seven of which were with the New Jersey Pride. Here, Jalbert gives us a taste of what viewers will see in the documentary and what went into filming it.
Can you tell us what viewers are going to see when they watch "There and Back" on ESPNU May 8 and 9?
The viewers are going to get an all-access view into an elite college lacrosse program. We were able to spend several days there with the Virginia team in the locker room, in the huddles, at practice, a few social situations, there are definitely some lighthearted situations that you normally wouldn’t see in a production like a Hard Knocks or a 24/7. We really just wanted to give the viewer something beyond what you would see in an ESPN game and what these college athletes are doing on a day-to-day basis.
We're naturally excited to see the final product but can you tell us how the project came to fruition?
Well I think Virginia had several story lines that we thought were pretty compelling. They’re the National Champions, which was the biggest one. Defending the National Championship was their quest, something that’s very difficult to do in our sport so we thought that was great. They were returning some top level, premier athletes like Tewaraaton winner Steele Stanwick. I think coach Starsia is a real inspiration to a ton of people and is a great character and a great coach and an icon in the sport, so that had a lot to do with it. I think Virginia is an exciting team to watch visually from a game play stance.
My connection to the program allowed it to be a bit more seamless and there was a level of trust there between myself and coach Starsia and the program and the athletic department so we were able to dive right in without too many questions so that was fantastic. Everything we were able to capture was fantastic and it was an amazing week, even for my crew there just hanging out, it was a lot of fun and an awesome bunch of guys on the Virginia lacrosse team and definitely wish them the best.
Can you take us behind-the-scenes and tell us what the mentality of this Virginia lacrosse team is?
Absolutely. It seemed from an unbiased approach that it’s a fairly confident team. They’re aware of their abilities and what their potential is. They know that at that point they were No. 1. What they were doing right now was improving and getting to that next stage of the playoffs was really their goal and focus. I think you noticed a smart and veteran led team that knew when they needed to start playing their best.
Since you have an insider view, what would you say is their biggest challenge in defending their title?
Their competition. It’s Division I lacrosse. There’s just so much parity and so many great teams. I think Hopkins and Duke and Carolina and Maryland, there’s quite a few fantastic teams out there. There are other teams that are doing well but it’s the parity in DI. As you saw with Virginia last year it’s about getting hot at the right time and that’s the most important thing. I think their match-up will be key.
We’ve seen what shows like 24/7 have done for hockey, so what would you say this documentary means for the sport of lacrosse?
The end goal and objective is to put the sport, specifically college lacrosse and even more specifically Virginia lacrosse in a positive light and give lacrosse enthusiasts as well as outsiders a view into what the sport is about, what the people behind the sport are about and really show them all the hard work and dedication it takes to defend a national championship.
We heard that the original plan was for a single, half hour show but you filmed so much great content that ESPN is splitting it up into two separate segments. Can you tell us about what viewers will see on each night?
Absolutely. We got tremendous amounts of content and we have been working with ESPN to figure out when it’s going to air and how much and we were able to come up with a game plan to have two consecutive half hours that would be covering a portion of the season and it’ll lead up to the end of the season and air right before the playoffs start. W were able to capture the Duke game, the ACCs and some stuff into the Penn game. Specifics we were able to get weightlifting training, several scouting scenes, several coaches meetings, several practices and a lot of stuff during several of their games this year.
Do you see more lacrosse related productions popping up across sports and new stations?
I think we’re at a crossroads here or a tipping point in the sport and I think ESPN has led the charge and will bring more content into more households and I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. I think more productions like this will pop up and I think that’s great. I think in the end the goal is to grow the sport and in the right ways.
MLL has drafted so many of its players from the University of Virginia so naturally we’re excited to see the final product. Thank you for giving us a sneak peek at this exciting project.
I greatly appreciate it. I’m looking forward to showing everyone and hopefully people will tune in and enjoy the program!
Watch “There and Back” this Tuesday May 8 and Wednesday May 8 on ESPNU at 6:30pm ET. For more information on the documentary click here.