Every four years, the best lacrosse players in the world come together for the World Lacrosse Championships, put on by the Federation of International Lacrosse. This year, Virginia associate men's lacrosse coach Marc Van Arsdale will be taking part of the games as an assistant coach for the Iroquois Nationals.
"I feel a great pride of being associated with World Championships, and you take it a step further, with this team," Van Arsdale said. "To these guys, the sport means so much to them. To join in and be a part of that really grabs a hold of you. You want to give your best for these guys."
The opening ceremonies for the 2014 championships will take place in Denver on Thursday, July 10, with the games running from July 11-19. Van Arsdale will leave for the games this Thursday and spend a week with the team training before competition starts.
Van Arsdale says he's honored "to be part of the whole festival that will go on out there with the World Championships. When [UVa head coach Dom] Starsia played in the World Games in 1978, there were four teams competing. This year there will be 39 teams in Denver, so that's really exciting."
Starsia has seen a number of players and coaches from his UVa lacrosse family take part in the games over the years. This year, former Cavalier Steele Stanwick is an alternate for the United States.
"As a former player on a U.S. team myself, I can tell you that from within the game, it's a real honor," Starsia said. "I understood during the tryouts for the U.S. team that that was probably the best lacrosse I was ever going to play."
For Van Arsdale, the championships will be the most unique lacrosse he's ever coached. The Cavaliers' offensive coordinator will be coaching the two 2014 Tewaaraton Award winners, brothers Miles and Lyle Thompson. The brothers are the first ever co-winners of the Tewaaraton, given annually to the top play in college lacrosse. The two attackers play at Albany along with their cousin Ty Thompson, who is also on the Iroquois team. Jerome and Jeremy Thompson, who are the other brothers of Miles and Lyle, are also expected to be on the final Iroquois roster.
"I think we don't want to get too structured with them, quite honestly, at the offensive end," Van Arsdale says of coaching such a talented group. "They do have a remarkable sense of just how to play. When they play together, it's really a fun thing to watch and it doesn't need a ton of structure. I think you want to put a couple concepts in, but I think a lot of it is going to be letting their natural abilities take over."