2/1/2018 4:34:00 PM / John Gurtler
As the Bandits move back into activation after yet another bye week, the team is inhaling the last gasps of enthusiasm from their Jan. 19 victory, looking to pick up where they left off with a game Saturday in Rochester against the Knighthawks.
This will start a schedule of three games in eight nights, including a back-to-back set that includes a trip to New England and a home game the next night against Georgia.
The last 14 days have been filled with practices, video reviews and team-generated functions.
While the team works to remain focused, now is a good time to call attention to the people that keep this pack of Banditos together, both materially and physically:
Ted Cordingley and Jim Starkey.
Ted Cordingley, the Bandits equipment manager, has been with the club for the last 11 years and there isn't a repair or threading he can't handle, many times fixing better than new. He is regarded as the best equipment manager in the NLL.
"I’d have to say that I’m always sewing and repairing either the goalie gloves or the player gloves and elbow pads," said Cordingley, who has also cared for Team Canada and the Oakville Rock of the OLA. "Each player is different, especially the offensive players as they are a little fussier than the defensive players. I get to know each player’s routines or superstitions."
With all of the caring for the players equipment, which sometimes looks like a “Game of Thrones” assembly of armor, the evolution and refinement of such by manufacturers have come through the observations and recommendations of Cordingley.
"I used to make recommendations to Reebok about their gloves mostly, and I have worked with Under Armour on their turf shoes," Cordingley, who grew up in the automotive repair business and now cares for fleets of equipment trucks when he is not tending to the Bandits, noted.
"When I first started, I used to keep up on the goalie equipment changes every year. Now, I just listen to all the manufacturers about their newest and latest equipment, sticks, heads, helmets, etcetera.”
Being sensitive to 24 players’ needs at one time can be overwhelming, but Teddy handles it with a "we can fix that," no problem attitude. He handles everything by himself when the team is on the road, and at home, he has a great group of helpers.
"I have Dan Ristine, Nick May and Jeremy Wiseman. We are very lucky to have these guys,” Cordingley, who also relied on a support crew while drag racing cars in the mid-’90s, winning an NHRA event in Kansas during the '96 racing season, said. "They take a huge load off me so I can concentrate on any sewing or equipment repairs before game time.
"On a game day, we usually get to the arena at 7:30 a.m. and start to set up the visiting dressing room with towels, shampoo, coffee, water bottles, practice balls, etcetera. Then we do the same for our Bandits dressing room.
"After both teams finish their morning shootaround, we begin to work on getting the game shorts and jerseys ready for the game, spare shafts cut and taped, get the ice water tub filled and Gatorade mixed. I also try to keep up on sanitizing the players; equipment at every home game.”
And, too, taking care of each player’s request.
"We have a check list on our equipment room wall and we make sure everything gets done before shootaround, before game time and before we go home, which is around 11:30 p.m."
Consumables, such as tape and coffee, are in big demand.
"For a home game we go through about 20 rolls of electrical tape, 16-20 pots of coffee and 120 lacrosse balls over the course of the game day with the shootarounds, warmups and the game."
And the go-to tool and accessory in a time of need?
"I guess it would either be my Speedy Stitcher for making quick sewing repairs or my cordless gun for changing lacrosse shafts quickly in a game."
Taking care of the players needs is a lot of work. What about crazy requests?
"I have had strange requests from my followers on Instagram and Twitter asking me to take pictures of our guy’s shoes, socks, sticks, etcetera, but one person wanted a picture of one of our player’s lunch plate.”
And to turn the tables, Cordingley wants to learn more on how he can do a better job.
"One day, I would like to go on a road trip with the Buffalo Sabres equipment staff and see what those guys go through on a game day and maybe I could even get George Babcock to buy me a beer after the game."
Interestingly, the toughest part of Teddy's job is not all of the fixing, sewing and patching – it's seeing a player leave.
"It's really not about the duties but becoming close friends with the players and then having to say good bye when they get traded or retire."
In the meantime, having the league's best equipment manager is worth the weight in gold.
Keeping the Bandits players healthy, happy and fit falls under the direction of head athletic trainer, Jim Starkey, now in his second full year.
After earning his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in athletic training and exercise science respectively, Jim had internships with the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and spent four years on staff at the renowned Steadman Clinic in Vail, Col., which focused on cutting-edge orthopedics.
Head to toe, the Bandits are in good care, but it's a challenge.
"The biggest challenge an indoor lacrosse player faces, in my opinion, would be related to balancing a full-time job, training, traveling, and playing 18 games through the winter and spring," said Starkey, who is also a certified CSCS at IMPACT Sports Performance at HarborCenter. "Also, most players will transition from the NLL season into Senior Series lacrosse in the summer with little break, so a player may have injuries that linger throughout the year.
"Most of our players live out of town and have full-time jobs. I am able to train the guys who live in Buffalo four times a week, but only able to provide our 'away team' a program without supervision. Some guys provide feedback, but I wish I could train them daily. As the league grows, my hope is that more players are able to live and work in their home cities."
I have always wondered, especially when you read and hear about sports played on synthetic turf and the confines of athletic facilities, about the never-ending battle against MRSA.
"MRSA is a bacterium that is responsible for difficult to treat infections. It is more common athletic populations due to sanitation in locker rooms, gyms, and other athletic facilities," noted Starkey. "It is even more common in athletes who play on turf, as the turf itself can cause abrasions which open a pathway for the bacterium to enter the body.
"Fortunately, we have not had any issues with MRSA and out team. The players have been educated about proper hygiene to decrease the potential for a MRSA infection and our medical staff is vigilant when treating wounds. MRSA has made national media through reports of other professional leagues dealing with previous outbreaks and this has increased awareness in general."
With the average player running three to four miles per game, and getting bumped and bruised along the way, it has to take its toll on the body.
"Lower extremity injuries tend to be most common injuries seen. This comprises of contusions, strains, and sprains. Common ailments include hip flexor strains, sprained ankles, and contusions/lacerations from contact with other players.
"As you know, I see a multitude of injuries, but tight and sore muscles are what we spend the most time addressing in pre- and postgame treatments. If a guy gets banged up on the floor, I usually perform a quick recall of their previous history, an assessment of the mechanism of injury, and the ability of the player to get off the field.
"I can usually recognize an injury immediately based upon a player’s reaction, but there is a systematic approach to extraction, evaluation, and immediate treatment."
Today’s player in the National Lacrosse League is bigger, faster and extremely talented, which requires an entirely different training regime, year-round.
"Our strength and conditioning program is offered to the players year-round and is based upon their practice and game schedule. The program is broken into multiple phases which reflect the time of year in which we are training.
"Preparatory, competitive, and transition comprise the phases of our program. The type of activity in each phase reflects the demands on the athlete. The major gains in strength, power, and conditioning are achieved during the predatory phase of the program.
"Maintenance of maximal strength in power is emphasized during the season (competitive phase). Regeneration and recovery is emphasized during the transitional phase in the post season. Programs are designed with specific goals in mind and modified as needed based upon athlete performance.
"Proper movement mechanics and mobility are under stressed with many of our new athletes. Being able to move the body properly and with control through space improves performance in the weight room and on the field. It also decreases the incidence of non-contact injuries. I use a specific system called Functional Range Conditioning for the Bandits.
Wait...Wait...Wait....How much training are we talking here? Seems like all day...
"A typical session will begin with a general warmup on the bikes, followed by a dynamic warmup, field work comprising of speed/acceleration/change of direction drills, plyometrics, weight lifting, core strengthening, and energy system development. The workout changes daily and is based on the needs of the team."
From medical care, preventative workouts, and day-to-day care, there is a whole lot more, with support too.
"Our pregame regiment is actually planned out before the season. Scott Loffler [the Bandits director of lacrosse operations] and myself discuss meal plans before the season. For game day breakfast, there is a full spread of carbohydrates/protein/fat available for the players. Lunch is also meticulously planned to provide satiation and performance.
"Continuing with game day, Matt Meyer provides soft tissue modalities for the guys as well. He is absolutely fantastic as an LMT and other treatments as per his certifications/licensers/knowledge.
“Dr. John Beck provides chiropractic treatment and Graston technique to players who also need those services. Dr. Mike Rauh and Dr. Mike Jordan will help make pre-game determinations for who will play if any injuries are in question.”
I am glad we had a chance to bring to light the incredible internal strengths the Bandits have, highlighting Jim and Teddy. Two very important elements in the Bandits success.
Rochester, too, has been on a bye week following their loss to New England, 11-9. The K-Hawks are 2-4 on the season and have lost four in a row.
Former Bandit and Hamburg native Joey Resetarits leads the K-Hawks in scoring with 12 goals and 17 assists for 29 points. Sniper Cody Jamieson has seven goals and 21 assists. But Blue Cross Arena is Dan Dawson's place as the long-time vet has scored 18 of his 23 points on home turf.
Dhane Smith leads the Bandits in scoring with 12 goals and 24 assists for 36 points. The Great Dhane is 8+10=18 in his last three games. He’s also 6th in league scoring going into weekend schedule.
Mitch Jones is second in team scoring with 13 goals and 17 assists, including 6+11=17 in his last three games. He’s 10th in league scoring, and 21 of Jones’ 30 points have come on the road (that’s 70 percent and he scored 10 of those last game!).
Jordan Durston jumps to third with seven goals and 15 assists for 22 points.
Josh Byrne is leading all rookies in scoring (6+13). Vaughn Harris has seven points (4+3) in two games played.
Callum Crawford returns to action this Saturday night with 10 goals and 10 assists, and there’s a good chance Chase Fraser will be back in lineup after missing two games due to injury.
Our broadcast Saturday night from the Blue Cross Arena starts with the Bandits Pre-Game Show at 7pm on ESPN 1520 AM in Buffalo and WGWE 105.9 FM in Salamanca.
Randy Mearns joins me from the press box with his analysis of the game. Defenseman Mitch de Snoo will be our Players Perspective guest and, standard operating procedure 1-on-1 with Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley. Face-off is scheduled for 7:30 pm
The game will also be carried by nlltv.com and CBS Sports Digital through subscription service.