Hudson boys lacrosse preparing for 2021 season with new appreciation
It’s been so long since his team has played a real game at this point that third-year Hudson boys lacrosse coach Brandon Schwind is hesitant to do the mental math.
“I want to say it's been over 500 days or something crazy like that since our team last took the field with our jerseys on against another team in a real game,” he said. “So, our anticipation is probably as high as it can go right now. We're all very, very excited, the morale is very high."
Hudson lacrosse is scheduled to open the season on Friday at home against Kenston after a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The OHSAA made the call to cancel spring sports in late April due to ongoing concerns about the pandemic. The cancellation has had lasting effects in more ways than one for Schwind’s squad, even though they know they are not the only team who was affected by not having a season last year.
Nevertheless, while the anxiety of last year may linger, there is a new hope when it comes to spring sports in 2021.
“For us it was a lot of anticipation just kind of going through all the 'what ifs' in our head,” Schwind said. “Are we going to have a season? Are we going to start up midseason and have to be suspended again? So, for us we just had a lot of the 'what ifs' going through our head. I think as we progressed and the vaccines rolled out, talking to our administration at Hudson we were able to reaffirm our belief that we could have a semi-normal season this year.”
While players didn’t get to play in a high school season last year, Schwind said most were able to play in summer league through their private club teams.
By the second week of January, the program was able to start socially-distanced winter strength and conditioning in small groups.
But with the changes and canceled season, Schwind said overall there has been an impact on development.
“There's no question that losing four months of lacrosse practices at the high school level has had an impact on these players' development,” he said. “But if there's any good news, everyone had the same setback. Everyone is teeing off from the same spot so to speak. I think it has driven them to a higher level though in 2021, where they are trying to make up for some lost time. We've had a lot of kids really devote themselves in the offseason to the weight room and just improving their overall game.”
Two years ago in 2019, the Explorers put up an 11-8 record.
Key returners include Griffin Liedel, Matt Mehelic, Brennan Catania, Adam Oscarson, Alex Movshin, Chase Weber, Colin Peel, Noah Atwood, Alec Dickens, Jack Jenkins and Carter Vaillancourt.
Schwind also said when it comes to newcomers, two freshmen in Ian Ludewig and JJ Wright could make big impacts. Ludewig brings size and speed to make an immediate impact at midfield, while Wright helps solidify their goalie depth chart.
In terms of strength, depth and experience at the midfield will help to anchor the Explorers’ offense. Schwind said their attack unit is also “full of talent,” and added that the Hudson defense is the foundation of the team.
When it comes to things Schwind says his squad is going to be looking to improve on, that will be in starting games off faster, while also improving overall depth.
Overall, with all the cancellations, changes and adjustments, Schwind said his team has a new appreciation for the game.
“They know what's at risk,” he said. “They've had something taken from them. I think we have a newfound sense of appreciation for being able to play this game together. So, our urgency has been top-notch these last couple of weeks preparing. We just don't know if it's going to be taken away or not.
"We're taking it one game at a time. That used to be a cliche coaching motto, but it does mean something now. You just don't know if this is the last time they'll be able to get together.”