The Buffalo Bandits and Rochester Knighthawks are partnering to bring an exciting new box lacrosse league to Western New York this summer. In conjunction with USBOXLA, the Upstate Collegiate Box Lacrosse League (UCBLL) will bring the area’s top college-aged field lacrosse players together to hone their skills and learn the fast-paced game of box lacrosse.
As part of the National Collegiate Box Series (NCBS), the UCBLL will host two teams in Buffalo and two in Rochester. The league’s winning team will travel to USBOXLA Nationals in San Jose, Calif., to compete for the NCBS National Championship against teams from the Colorado Collegiate Box Lacrosse League, Ohio Collegiate Box Lacrosse League and Connecticut Collegiate Box Lacrosse League.
The National Lacrosse League will welcome its 14th team during the 2021-22 season, with a vision to further expand in the future. As the league continues to grow, the NLL will need to increase its player pool. Often, general managers will take a shot on an NCAA field lacrosse player and try to teach them the indoor game. Sometimes it works out, as is the case with Tom Schreiber of the Toronto Rock. The righty from East Meadow, NY, notched 95 goals and 271 points in 52 career NLL games, despite not playing box lacrosse until 2016. Other traditional field lacrosse players can have difficulty picking up the indoor game’s nuances and have a difficult transition to the sport.
We caught up with Bandits’ GM Steve Dietrich to get his thoughts on the UCBLL and what it means for lacrosse players in WNY, and the growth of the NLL.
With the expansion of the NLL season-to-season, how important is it for Americans to become involved in box lacrosse and why?
Dietrich: I think it is vital for the long-term growth of the NLL to include more American players. As we continue to expand with more franchises, the level of Canadian players needed to fill those rosters will be scrutinized, thus making it important for the increase in the number of American players needed to sustain existing rosters and future expansion teams.
How is the National Collegiate Box Series valuable to the NLL teams to use as a scouting tool for American-born players?
Dietrich: My job and that of my scouting staff, when watching college lacrosse, is trying to imagine if the talents that a player shows on the field will translate onto the indoor floor. An indoor league with college players will give us a great look at the players and will allow us to see if their talents and strengths will translate to the indoor game.
What are your thoughts on the Bandits and Knighthawks partnering to bring the Upstate Box Lacrosse League to the WNY area?
Dietrich: I think the partnership is a great idea as it will allow for a wider depth of coaching and skill development for these young players to learn the nuances of the indoor game and share best practices to help the players become the best they can be.
What do you think the advantages are for field players to play box lacrosse in the summer?
Dietrich: I think there are many advantages, but a big one for me is that they get to work on skill development. Being on an indoor floor, you have less time and space to act or react in different situations.
What has the growth of box lacrosse meant to you as a GM in the NLL?
Dietrich: I am someone that is a lifelong fan of box lacrosse. Having had the pleasure of being involved in the NLL for a long time is something I am extremely proud of. Seeing the interest and growth of the box leagues in the United States has me more excited than ever. I see the potential for the skill and level of play to just skyrocket in the next 10 years, and it will allow the National Lacrosse League to achieve heights that I never imagined possible.