Knighthawks Spending March Break with Youngsters
By Craig Rybczynski -- The Rochester Knighthawks are spending their March Break at a familiar location, the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena. For the past two days, 40 kids were treated to lacrosse lessons from five members of the back-to-back National Lacrosse League champions at their practice facility.
The annual Arrow Express Sports March Break Camp, which runs from Monday through Thursday, includes appearances from Craig Point, Mike Accursi, Dan and Paul Dawson, Matt Vinc and Stephen Keogh. Kids from ages 8 to 14 years old arrived Monday from Niagara Falls, Six Nations, St. Catharines, Ancaster, Hamilton, Simcoe, Caledonia and Brantford to improve their lacrosse skills.
“We shared our knowledge with the kids and let them know where we came from and the championships we won, and all the great players we have on the Knighthawks. We showed them our caliber of play by doing the same drills we do in practice,” said Knighthawks forward Craig Point. “It’s fun for the kids and gets them out of the house all week. For me, I get to share the sport I love and teach them how to be better a player.”
The kids hit the turf and worked on ground ball drills, passing, catching, cradling and shooting. The day ended with skills and a scrimmage game. As the week progresses, the Knighthawks will integrate systems work like two-on-ones, one versus one and two versus two drills.
“The main thing is that you never get away from the fundamentals of the game. It is the foundation of success at any level, especially the pro level,” said former NLL MVP Dan Dawson. “We always preach three things: working hard, making sure you respect yourself, the other campers and the instructors, and having fun.”
The camp offers kids a unique opportunity to meet their lacrosse idols. Paul Dawson, who grew up playing goal in hockey, said he would have jumped at the chance to learn from his pro hockey heroes.
“It puts the face to a name that these guys watch, and some of their heroes and guys they get autographs from (at games),” said Paul Dawson. “The kids get to interact with the players on a personal basis, instead of just cheering for them. For me, it would be a thrill of a lifetime. I grew up playing hockey so if I could have gone to a hockey school and Doug Gilmour was there, I would have been on cloud nine learning from the game’s best.”
The two goalies at the camp will share space on cloud nine this week as they receive instruction from three-time NLL Goalie of the Year Matt Vinc. Lacrosse camps give “Vno”, who works as a school teacher, an opportunity to teach his other area of expertise, goaltending.
“Their stances are already established so it’s tweaking and making little adjustments to make them more successful,” said Vinc. “Most success in goal is positioning in certain situations. We also work on the mental aspect. At a camp you might see 500 shots a day, so you have to make one save at a time.”
Mike Accursi, who teaches at Holy Cross Secondary School, adds his own expertise to the camp having won four Championships in his illustrious 17-year professional career.
“The kids have the opportunity to learn from the best in the game,” said Accursi, whose 9-year-old Carter is attending the camp. “Our hope is they soak it all in and enjoy the experience.”
This weekend, the K-Hawks will travel to play Toronto and Philadelphia. Rochester plays the Toronto Rock on Saturday, March 15th at 7:00 p.m. and then flies to Philly to play the Wings Sunday at 4:00 p.m. The Knighthawks will return home on Saturday, March 29th to take on the Edmonton Rush. Game time is 7:30 p.m. and tickets are currently available by calling (585) 454-4295.
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