Former Lehigh men’s lacrosse standout Craig Chick,‘19, and current assistant coach John Crawley will represent Lehigh in the Premier Lacrosse League’s summer tournament as members of the Atlas Lacrosse Club.
The PLL’s “Championship Series” is a two-week long mini-season from July 25 to Aug. 9. The tournament will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the games will be broadcasted by NBC.
The first week of games will be played in a round robin format, giving each team the opportunity to play each other. Based on the results at the end of the first week, factoring in wins, losses and goal differential, teams will be ranked for the second week’s single elimination tournament.
The players are required to self-quarantine two weeks prior to arriving on July 19 in advance of the first game. Upon arrival, they will be tested for COVID-19 and will be required to self-quarantine while awaiting their results.
The few days between arrival and game day will act as a training camp, giving the teams time to practice together and players an opportunity to familiarize themselves with their teammates.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the summer has been far from typical for Chick and Crawley.
Chick said, even with the atypical circumstances, his team is doing their best to stay connected.
“We’ve had a Zoom call once every two weeks and a couple happy hour sessions where we just hang out and get to know each other,” Chick said. “And there’s a group message that’s pretty active everyday with guys sending workouts or just checking in saying, ‘What’s up?’”
While some players have been able to meet up and work out together, most have had to train on their own with the pandemic still limiting interactions.
Crawley and Chick were able to meet up for a workout in the Baltimore area a few weeks back, but Crawley has mostly been at home in Long Island where he works out with his younger brothers.
Between balancing coaching Lehigh men’s lacrosse and playing professionally, Crawley’s summer has been far from what it would normally look like.
For college lacrosse, the summer is primarily centered around recruiting, but, due to COVID-19, all camps and tournaments for high school prospects have been canceled.
Crawley would typically be spending a week out at camps and tournaments before traveling on Friday nights to the sites of his Saturday games for the PLL.
Even with the alterations in schedule, Crawley still feels coaching gives him a bit of a leg up against guys who have other occupations while playing. Whether he’s on the field working with his players or in the weight room, Crawley said he is constantly around the game.
Neither Chick nor Crawley gave much thought to playing without fans in attendance, but Crawley said he doesn’t feel it will make too much of a difference.
“When you’re in a game, you’re kind of locked in on the field level anyway,” Crawley said. “It’s like you’re back at college practice, and all you have are your voice and the voice of your teammates, so it will be very interesting.”
Kevin Cassese, Lehigh men’s lacrosse head coach, described Crawley as a coach on the field when he’s playing and feels his playing and coaching career benefit from each other.
“I’ve seen him still playing at a high level has helped make him a better coach, and I think him coaching at a high level has helped make him be a better player,” Cassese said.
Despite there still being uncertainty with the coronavirus, both Chick and Crawley are confident in the plans put in place to keep everyone safe.
Chick said he doesn’t have concerns about playing and is excited and feels ready to go.
After a strong rookie season in Major League Lacrosse for the Dallas Rattlers, including being in the conversation as an MVP candidate, Chick is turning his focus toward competing in the PLL this summer.
Crawley said he is excited for the opportunity as well, as it can serve as a chance for him to improve as a player and a coach with three weeks of nothing but lacrosse.
An opportunity for lacrosse to take center stage in a time where sports have been lacking could help the PLL accrue new fans around the country, and Crawley believes many will be won over by the fast paced style of play and physical nature of the sport.