In spirit of this Saturday's All-Star Game, presented by Moe's Southwest Grill, Major League Lacrosse held its weekly conference call with five well-respected All-Stars; Kevin Crowley (Hamilton Nationals), Chris Bocklet (Denver Outlaws), Ryan Flanagan (Charlotte Hounds), Rob Pannell (New York Lizards), and Matt Striebel (Rochester Rattlers). It will be an exciting weekend in Charlotte, N.C., as the guys are ready and eager to begin the festivities.
Players were selected to the All-Star game based on outstanding and distinguished play over the course of the 2013 season thus far. First-time selections Rob Pannell and Kevin Crowley commented on the achievement. Pannell said, "It's awesome. I think it really speaks volumes for the respect that the players and coaches have for me around the League. It's obviously a tremendous honor to be named to the All-Star team and get to go to Charlotte and be able to play alongside the greatest players in the game." Crowley echoed in agreement, "I think it was a huge honor for me. When the owners, coaches, and GM's are voting for you, I think it means a lot because they are obviously great lacrosse minds. To have earned their respect for the nomination is obviously a huge honor."
All eight teams will be represented in this weekend's game, bringing 38 of the MLL's best players together from all over the country. Striebel said, "The thing that is special and fun about the All-Star weekend is getting to play, and be around the guys you compete against every weekend. I always enjoy the guys who are there every year, like Lee Zink, whose team I hopefully get to be on so we can catch up." Pannell affirmed, "So many times you play against these guys, and don't have time to really interact as much as you would like. I think All-Star weekend allows for that. Everyone's having fun, joking, laughing, and there's more downtime to spend with the other players and get to know them." Other players like Bocklet will be able to reacquaint themselves with former teammates, "It's nice to have been selected with Steele (Stanwick), a guy from my class at UVA, it's definitely a special thing. I haven't played with him since playing at Virginia so I hope to be on the same team as him."
Hosted in his backyard, Flanagan touched on what this means to Charlotte and the fans. "We're grateful for this opportunity, as they could have done this anywhere. But it's huge for the community, and they deserve it. I think the people in the south in general, and Charlotte in particular, are just starving for quality lacrosse. We're calling it one of the biggest weekends in Charlotte lacrosse history."
When asked what to expect coming to Charlotte, he answered, "Expect to be part of an exciting environment. It's a loud, rowdy crowd, where you really feel that sports culture. In Charlotte we do an unbelievable job of packing the stadium, and we're in a great venue at Memorial Stadium, so be prepared to be loud, rowdy, encouraging, and cheer on the players. It's going to be a great event."
Expectations are high for a fun, and enjoyable weekend. The All-Star Game rosters will be chosen playground style with team captains. Bocklet said, "This reminds me of fifth grade kickball. I hope not to be picked last, but I don't think there's going to be any hard feelings. There's so many great players in this League, that to even be picked last with this group right here is still an honor." At half-time, the Skills Competition will include Fastest Shot, Freestyle, and Long Distance. Flanagan made his predictions on Long Distance, "Brodie! If Brodie's in it, I'm giving it to Brodie. If not, you've got to go with Striebs. They're some of the best in the world, and I think they're going to have that one in the bag."
The All-Star game is sure to be a fun event, but veteran players like Striebel know the most important weekend will be Championship Weekend, presented by Smartlink. "I think the individual honors, and that's what an All-Star game is, are aspects that are always welcome to any player because it validates the time and effort you put in as an individual. But this is a team sport. At the end of a season, there's one team that wins it, and everyone else feels like that season fell short. An All-Star game is one thing, but winning a championship, that's why you play."
The 2013 MLL All-Star Game, presented by Moe's Southwest Grill, will be played Saturday, July 13, at American Legion Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. ESPN2 will broadcast the event live at 7 p.m. (ET). If you don't have your tickets for the event yet, be sure to check out the MajorLeagueLacrosse.com All-Star page for information.
Click a name below to listen to the full interviews