NM: I’m originally from Richmond, VA (about 200km south of Washington DC). I’ve been playing lacrosse for about 13 years. I have been playing since I was about 12, when my parents took me to a lacrosse camp with another friend. At the time I was playing baseball and lacrosse was just starting to get popular around the DC area (it was very popular in the North around New York). Eventually I fell in love and played through middle and high school, also playing in the summer for a couple travel leagues. I played some in college as well but stopped when I broke my shoulder. After college, I played in the local adult league with my brother until moving to Germany.It was very cool to grow up while it was still becoming popular. Today it is one of the fastest growing sports on the East Coast, including women’s lacrosse.
JH: You’ve now played three games with us. What are the major differences between US and German lacrosse?
NM: There are some small differences between the German lacrosse style and the American. The main difference is how they call penalties. One of the hardest ones to get used to was the amount of contact allowed when checking with your stick. American lacrosse calls slashes and cross checks much more liberal than the Germans. I found out recently that a slash (a penalty for hitting someone too hard with your stick) is here sometimes called when hitting the hand, and not just other parts of your body. Another difference I have learned fast to avoid doing is illegal substitution (not changing players inside of the designated box). That’s something that I never thought of and learned very quickly to do correctly.
Other than penalties, I think that the Germans approach lacrosse as more collaborative than Americans. For example, there are not as many isolation plays in Germany as there are in America. I personally like the collaboration better rather than having one person doing all the work. The game is beautiful when everything works well together and everyone is in sync.
JH: There is already a German or European style like in Basketball for example. I often think about that comparison when I watch US games. What is something we can work on to increase the level of competition in Germany?
NM: The answer always comes down to fundamentals for me, because without them you can’t play the game. Throwing, catching, and ground balls are the core of the game and if you can’t do those completely then it’s very hard to improve on other aspects, such as running defensive and offensive schemes. Mastering the little things are the differences between a good player and a great player.
JH: I guess that’s difficult here because so many players start very late with the game. Often in their 20ties when they attend university. It’s a typical university sport here. Only the cities with a university have teams because a lot of young people start the sport when they move away from home.
What do you like about Germany?
NM: I love almost everything about Germany. One of the best things is how close everything is compared to America. Coming from the US, you have to travel almost everywhere by car and it takes a very long time if you want to see different parts of the country. In Germany, it is quite nice to be able to drive two hours and be in a completely different part of the country and see different things. I also like living in Bayern quite a lot. If there is one thing that I love it is to try lots of different beers, and here is the best place in the world for it. The people are also very friendly and usually quite understanding when I try to speak German like a 5 year old.
JH: You are far better than a 5 year old, believe me. Would you recommend other US-Laxers to come and play here?
NM: Absolutely. It feels really great being part of the lacrosse world in Germany and helping grow the game not only here but throughout Europe. All of the players across the country are really nice and passionate about expanding the sport, something that I felt growing up and still feel today. I would not be surprised if lacrosse explodes in the next five years throughout Europe. Also, getting the opportunity to live in a different country, experience a different culture, and meet really great and interesting people is something that few Americans can do and should take the opportunity if it presents itself.
JH: What’s coming next?
NM: Well the spring games are wrapping up and from what I have heard the tournaments start in late July. Until then I am going to continue to improve and work with my team to be the best lacrosse team when it’s time for the tournaments. Other than that I am looking forward to my first summer in Germany as well as the beautiful weather and the great activities that come with it. I’m looking forward for my first full season with the Titans when the league games start back up again in the fall, but until then I’m sure there’s a lot of lacrosse to be played.
Interview by Jörg