One Year Out: A Q&A With U.S. U20 Men's Head Coach Nick Myers

PHOTO BY TONY MORANO

Nick Myers, the U20 head coach, is looking forward to his trip to Ireland.


COVID-19 has drastically altered the schedules of lacrosse teams around the globe, and the U.S. teams were no exception. The U19 men's team — now called the U20 men's team — had its World Lacrosse World Championship in Limerick, Ireland, postponed until July 2021.

Because of the changes, the event age eligibility will be raised to U20, with certain dispensations still allowed. The lower age for eligibility will remain 16 years old.

Now roughly one year away from the action, U20 head coach Nick Myers sat down with US Lacrosse Magazine for a Q&A about what is in store for Team USA.

HOW HAVE THE PLAYERS HANDLED THIS ENTIRE SITUATION?

I don’t want to speak for the men, but I would say this. Candidly, I think this was secondary to losing their spring seasons. You have some of the very best seniors the United States has to offer who had their senior years of lacrosse canceled. Then you have some of the best freshmen in the country lose their college seasons. That second half of their season, which is where you see freshmen come into their own. For the first 30 to 60 days, it was a lot of communication.

I think we had anticipated the games would be canceled, but there was no definitive answer. It was about communication. You know, some texts and just letting them know that we were going to communicate and be there for them. We started a group text, guys are firing around and encouraging each other, which is great.

When the announcement came that we were all hoping for, there was real excitement. It gave this group of men and the staff a little light at the end of the tunnel. For what was a really challenging two to three months, it let them know that this dream of representing the United States and competing for a world championship still existed.

We’re still on lockdown in a lot of areas, so we’re still not able to do a lot of connecting unless it’s virtual or via text, but my hope is that, as early as this fall and certainly be December or January, we’re able to get the band back together and prepare for a world championship run next summer.

WHAT’S IT LIKE FOR THE GUYS TO REPRESENT TEAM USA?

Having been a part of this team, it’s so special. What I’ve always tried to share with the men and the staff is that you start with a group of 115. My goal is to make every time we’re together a remarkable experience. You put that jersey on, even if it’s a practice jersey and a pair of shorts and it says USA on it, it hits differently. We’ve got to share with the men that are part of that first 100 that, ‘Hey, you’re part of Team USA. You have a stake in this.’

When it gets down to 50, same message. As you get down to your roster, it’s reminding them that you’re playing for these guys who have been in it with you. Be humbled by the fact that you’ve been given the opportunity to take it one step further. But you represent all of your teammates, and that goes back to the first weekend together.

Team USA is what it is today certainly because of this great country, but specific to lacrosse, but because of those who have made this tradition of excellence so incredible. Is it pressure? You could say that. But it’s an honor.







HOW WILL COLLEGE EXPERIENCE IMPACT THE ON-FIELD PRODUCT?

There was a sense of the college guys having a little more of a leadership role in some ways because they were a little more experienced. In just pure talent, you look at a Brendan Grimes, Brennan O’Neill, Cole Herbert, but there was an understanding that some of the guys had gone through the college gauntlet already. There was a real chemistry we had in January when we competed.

I think the experience of a college season will certainly benefit all those guys. But it will certainly benefit those we are going to play against as well. I think you’ll see probably a caliber of play — it’s hard to say it could be better than it was four years ago — but I really do think you’re going to see as good of lacrosse as you’ll ever see played at that level.

WHAT ARE THE STRENGTHS OF THE TEAM?

We haven’t assembled an All-Star team. We’ve assembled Team USA. An All-Star team is individually talented players that are assembled to play on one day, and there’s nothing wrong with that. These men were chosen because they fit the model and the mold for a world championship run. There were some very tough cuts, and I say that with all due respect. The young men that we cut are very, very talented players and guys I lost sleep over, making those phone calls and decisions.

At the end of the day, you have a model and a mold. It’s character and competence. They have to have the character of a Team USA player, and that’s a very hard thing ot judge in a couple weekends of tryouts. Then the chemistry, the way they respond to one another and respond to coaching, all that goes a long way once you get overseas and you’re bunkered down for two weeks and you’re under strain. All-Star teams aren’t created for those challenges. They’re created for one day to showcase. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Team USA is a very different beast. This is a different feel.

You better have a team that’s resilient. You better have a team that cares about each other, a team that’s ready to lay it on the line for Team USA. Championships are going to be won and lost based on the character of your team.

WHAT’S EXCITING ABOUT PLAYING IN IRELAND?

Growing the game is a big part of this experience. I have memories from Vancouver, being out there and Team Mexico coming to watch our practice and hanging around our guys, asking them questions. Our guys really had their eyes open to all of the nations that were there and how they were looked at by the other nations and the responsibility they felt they had to play to a certain standard and to share the game those two weeks we were there. Ireland could be every bit of that same experience.

I’ve taken a look at the facility. I think the fields are grass, which will be a little bit different, but it looks like a great venue. It’s a little different feel. In Vancouver, we were in hotels and had to go back and forth. This is more of an Olympic village type feel. All the teams will be in college dorms, and we’ll be closer together. It sets up for some really cool fellowship between the teams. That to me is what the spirit of the game is all about.

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