THORPE PREPARING NATS FOR ANOTHER SHOT
4/24/12 12:00 AM
(April 25, 2012)… Hamilton Nationals Head Coach Regy Thorpe cannot wait to get back to work this weekend. The last time he coached the Nats, it was after a 10-9 setback in the Major League Lacrosse Finals in Annapolis, Md. That was eight months ago, but that one loss still serves as motivation for this season.
“Last year was a really solid season, but we still have the taste in our mouths losing in the Finals,” said the second-year Nats head coach. “Everyone in the league thinks they can win the championship right now. We have to focus on the process and getting back there.”
The Nats finished the 2011 season with a 7-5 record and advanced to the MLL title game, but fell one goal short to the Boston Cannons. Hamilton will prepare for its 2012 Major League Lacrosse season with two practices at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, NY. The Nats will kick off the two days of training with a 3:00 p.m. practice on Saturday, April 28th.
Returning Nationals that will hit the field this weekend include Dan Burns, Scott Rodgers, Steve Waldeck, Sol Bliss, Donny Moss, Brice Queener, Matt Dolente and Brett Queener. Newcomers will include Tom Compitello, Jack Dudley (Cornell), Tim Harder (Syracuse), M.J. Kiekebelt (RIT), Grant Krebs, Brandon Spillett (Le Moyne), Julian Watts, Nick O’Hara and Matt Chadderdon (Le Moyne).
“We’re excited as a staff to get things rolling. It’s a big weekend for us,” said Thorpe. “We have a lot of guys playing indoor, but we are excited to see the guys and see some new faces to find out what they can do.”
Last season, Thorpe returned to the MLL for the first time since the 2008 season when he helped the Rochester Rattlers win the Steinfeld Cup. Thorpe spent three seasons as an assistant coach with the Rattlers, which included a stint as a player/assistant coach during the 2006 season. He also played for Rochester for six seasons (2001-06). The job with the Nationals was his first professional head coaching job.
Thorpe had a Hall of Fame career with the National Lacrosse League’s Rochester Knighthawks. He is the only players to play for both title teams (1997 and 2007) and was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 2012. Last year, he returned to his college alma mater to work with longtime friend and former professional teammate Gary Gait.
He joined Gait on the coaching staff of the Syracuse University women’s lacrosse team. In the past four seasons, Gait has led the Orange to a 60-17 record and two trips to the national semifinals (2008 and 2010). Gait also served as the assistant women’s lacrosse coach at the University of Maryland and was a part of seven national championship teams (1995-01).
During his playing career, Gait has won 11 championships, which includes three National Lacrosse League titles (1991, 1994-95), three Major League Lacrosse titles (2001-02, 2005), three Mann Cups (1991, 1997 and 1999), the Heritage Cup (2004) and the International Lacrosse Federation (ILF) World Championship (2006). Further, Gait captured three NCAA championships with the Syracuse University Orange men’s team. He is a National Lacrosse League Hall of Famer.
Gait returns to the sidelines for the 2012 MLL season, along with Thorpe. After last year’s MLL Finals, the two former SU lacrosse stars did not have an offseason as they jumped right back into coaching the SU women’s team. In a role reversal, Gait serves as the head coach and Thorpe as the assistant. The combination has worked at the collegiate level, as well. The Orange are ranked second in Division I lacrosse and have won 12 straight games as part of a 13-2 season. Syracuse has two regular season games left before hosting the Big East Tournament (May 3-5) at the Carrier Dome.
“Gary and I have great chemistry,” said Thorpe. “This season we added assistant Katrina Dowd and Brett (Queener) as a volunteer assistant. He has done a great job helping me with the goalies and the defense. It has been an awesome and exciting season. The future is bright for Syracuse lacrosse.”
That same weekend, the Nationals will open the 2012 season against the Denver Outlaws, on Saturday, May 5th at INVESCO Field at Mile High. That’s what makes this weekend of practices vitally important.
“We have to put in our offense and defenses, get up and down and do some teaching,” said Thorpe. “We need to focus on getting the team ready for Denver. They have a very good team out there.”
Hamilton makes its home debut on Friday, May 18th with an 11:00 a.m. contest against the Chesapeake Bayhawks at Ron Joyce Stadium at McMaster University. For ticket information, contact the Nationals Ticket Office at (905) 768-2225.