ROCHESTER, NY (June 1, 2014) “I’ve been in this league a long time, and this is the most tight nit group I’ve ever been with.” Those were the words from 11 year MLL veteran and Rochester Rattlers team captain Kevin Leveille as the crowded group of elite athletes meet at center field ready to begin practice at Aquinas Institute’s Wegmans Stadium Saturday. The chant 1..2..3..RATZ! breaks the gathering and then a voice calls out from the middle of the pack “I love you guys.”
That’s what it’s like to be around the 2014 Rattlers this time of year. A mix of leadership, enthusiasm, humor, youth, and lots and lots of talent is what you will find. “We are in a position to win this game and find ourselves near the top of the pack in this league” echoed Assistant Coach Jacques Monte as he spoke to the Rattlers defensive unit. “We have the talent, we have the opportunity, now we have to go out and win as a team!” It’s that mentality and the understanding that this year wins will come from a “family” of players, not just the play of a few.
Coach Tim Soudan makes it very clear that whether you have been around the league a lifetime or five minutes, you will be a part of this family and are expected to act accordingly. Having a strong "team first" focus is very important to Soudan, who knows all too well what it takes to win at this level. Soudan is a member of the US Lacrosse and Rochester Knighthawks Hall of Fame, a gold medal winner with Team USA and All American from the University of Massachusetts. His quiet leadership is unique, but it’s very clear that his intention is for the guys to care about each other first, and then use that as a driving force to obtain victory.
The team and the coaches are excited to welcome maybe the best core of players to come out of the Division 1 ranks in a long time, including Mark Cockerton (Virginia), Ty Thompson (Albany), Jordan Wolf (Duke) and of course the much heralded Tewaaraton Award winner Miles Thompson (Albany). But it’s not just the enthusiasm for the arrival of new talent, it’s the desire to see Leveille finally break the all-time goals record. To watch in awe as perennial All-Star Goalie John Galloway continues to lead from the crease and backstop his boys on the way to a league title.
All of the right elements are there. The laughter, the effort and the desire to win as “one” is very evident in every drill, every shot, and every save. Winning is the goal, but doing it together seems to be the blue print to success for this team. And in reality, how important is it to win if you don’t care about the people around you to share and enjoy it with?
The Rattlers take on the visiting Florida Launch today at 1pm in Downtown Rochester’s Sahlens Stadium. Tickets are available at the stadium box office, or online at ticketmaster.com. Gates open at noon.