Professional Box Lacrosse Association Holds Players Combine, Welcomes Binghamton Residents for Tryout
This past Sunday was the final day of the Professional Box Lacrosse Association's, or PLBA, players combine -- as players from all over the country, and even overseas, came to develop their indoor box lacrosse skills, and prove themselves to coaches ahead of the draft this October.
The combine was held from Friday, September 9th, through Sunday September 11th at Elmira's First Arena. It served as a testing ground for dozens of players -- hoping to get drafted into the upcoming professional indoor lacrosse league, which is otherwise known as "Box lacrosse."
A handful of those players, were Triple Cities natives, who jumped at the opportunity to play at the next level, especially with a team coming to play at Visions Veterans Memorial Arena.
"The guys on our team sent us this link and were like, is this something you'd be interested in and we were like of course, more chance to play box lacrosse? And as soon as we heard Binghamton we were like oh yeah, we're all in." explained Brian Conzola, a 2010 graduate of Union-Endicott varsity lacrosse, who went on to play at SUNY Broome and Elmira College.
"We really haven't had any professional standing lacrosse teams, or even anything close to it." added Brennan O'Brien, a Binghamton high school graduate, who just finished his last year playing for St. John Fisher College.
The league, and the combine, serves as an entry point for post-college players to get their foot in the door playing box, many of whom have only played the outdoor, or field version -- the games you see every spring across Section IV and at Binghamton University.
"This weekend we wanted our first taste for the guys, to come in, we have coaches here who are very experienced with box lacrosse, who are teaching how to play the game indoors." stated PBLA Commissioner and Co-Founder, Steve Donner. You can hear more from Donner here, where he discusses more about the league the decision to come to Binghamton.
The Box game differs in speed, stick skills, and physicality, drawing many comparisons to hockey with its fast and exciting play. Players like O'Brien say they were able to learn a lot this weekend to make that adjustment, compared to the field game.
"It was a nice experience, good learning experience, and good to meet some guys that were a little more experienced in the box than i was, and learn some new things."
Players came from as many as 30 different states, and even, Japan. Koichi Nakamura first discovered the sport on Youtube in 2012. He played at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, a top- tier Junior College program, as well as in various leagues in the United States. His dream is to become a full time pro, and inspire more kids back home to begin playing.
"That way, the kids can say 'Ok, Koicha did that -- I want to do that [too].' So I [try to] open the doors for the next generation. This is my dream."
Not everyone will get the call on draft night on October 22nd, but if the U-E grad Conzola were to land on the Binghamton Bombers, he says it'd truly be a dream come true.
"I think I wrote when I was in 4th grade, that my dream job would be a professional lacrosse player -- and to be able to play on any one of these teams, 100% would jump on it. But to be able to play for my hometown, in front of my family in front of my friends, coaches -- would mean everything."
Donner says the PBLA will announce team logos and jerseys within the next week or so, and will have Head Coaches decided within the next month, prior to the draft in late October. The league is set to begin playing the week after Christmas.