Cornell alumnus Brad Kamedulski ’10 has been selected as a member of the first-ever Polish National Lacrosse team, which will be competing in the upcoming Federation of International Lacrosse World Championships, held from July 16-24 in Manchester, England. During his stay, Kamedulski will provide journal entries for CornellBigRed.com. Kamedulski, whose grandfather Eugene Kamedulski was a Polish war hero fighting for the Allies in World War II before immigrating to the United States in 1954, acquired dual-citizenship this spring and is one of nine Americans on the team.
July 5, 2010
I just finished packing for the trip to the World Championships. Coach Zwickert asked me if I could bring over some gear for the Polish guys so I’m carrying helmets and gloves for five of them in my equipment bag. They’ll go, with team gloves, into an extra equipment bag. All the uniforms are coming from the United States, either donated by the manufacturers or purchased at deep discount. Rather than ship the uniforms airfreight, the U.S. based team members are bringing them as part of our checked baggage.
July 7, 2010
I just boarded the plane to England. After a little dilemma at baggage check where the agent had no idea what lacrosse sticks were or how to deal with them, I was finally able to get through that predicament without shelling out an extra $150. There’s a bunch of guys heading to the games on this flight, including my teammate, goalie Christian Dzwilewski (Providence College) from Cold Spring Harbor. He’s a neighbor of former Cornell player Joe Boulukus and also friends with David Lau. We’re pretty pumped to get over there and start playing. I’ve heard the trick is to try and sleep on the plane as much as possible so I popped four Tylenol PMs. Hopefully that will take care of me until we are in England.
July 8, 2010
We just landed. It’s pretty early, about 7:30 a.m. UK time, 2:30 a.m. back home on the east coast. Most of my gear made it through baggage claim, with the exception of one small detail – my long poles. I think I must have really upset the baggage check lady with my arguments to the point where she made sure they wouldn’t arrive with me, and put them on the wrong plane or something. Thankfully Chris Perzinski (Lynchburg College) had an extra one for me to borrow until they get in. Coach Z and a few other American guys met up with us and about eight of us split a cab and headed for our hotel. Coach Z found a great traditional English hotel in Manchester for a few days before we move into the dorms at the University of Manchester. The Polish guys will be arriving about 9 p.m. and in the meantime we all try and stay up as much as possible and not fall into the jetlag trap. Our plan worked pretty well, as we went all over Manchester trying out the local cuisine and filling up with fish and chips and several pints of the local brews. All in all it was a quality day getting acquainted with the guys and the English lifestyle.
July 9, 2010
I’m rooming at the hotel with two of the Polish players, Rudy and Greg. They don’t speak much English and I don’t speak much Polish so it’s pretty funny trying to communicate. Sometime we even go to Google translator to get some words across that we don’t understand. The one thing we can agree on (non-verbally) is how great the new gear Coach Z hooked us up with. I could tell that these guys had never seen any kind of gear like this before, all custom made with your name on the back etc., which was pretty cool to watch them try it all on and take pictures in the mirror. I just sat on my bed and smiled and enjoyed it.
July 10, 2010
Our 7 a.m. breakfast came way too soon. We’re on three-a-day practices here and with nine players from the U.S. and 14 from Poland we really need the work. Since most all of the Polish guys are just starting the sport, they really need help learning and understanding the game. It is their first time really playing competitively, but what they may lack in talent they make up in their heart and determination to learn and become better players. I can already tell some of the potential of these guys from their substantial development from the morning to the evening sessions. And we only have five days until the games open so we are really fast tracking their learning.
July 11, 2010
I finally moved into the dorms where my sticks were waiting for me! We basically occupy the sixth floor and share some of the seventh floor with the French team. We actually ended up playing a scrimmage against the French team today and defeated them pretty handily. It’s looking like the Polish team is going to be pretty good, especially with the help of the American guys bringing the Polish guys along. I actually hosted a pretty successful chalk talk session for all the Polish defenseman where I felt we really got a lot accomplished within terminology and slide progressions. Hopefully it will translate to some understanding on the field in practice tonight.
July 12, 2010
We went out to dinner as a team at a Spanish restaurant in Manchester. The food was pretty good, except most of it is pretty unhealthy stuff, so I’ve been trying to eat as well as possible within reason. After the dinner Coach Z got up and broke some sad news to the team that he will be leaving tomorrow for home, as his wife is extremely pregnant. You could tell his heart was with Poland, but at the same time he didn’t want to get divorced over a Skype call. We all felt for him and understood family comes first and wished him the best. Our assistant Sean will be taking over the reins. He is a Long Island guy who is really knowledgeable and so far has been a tremendous help and leader to the group, and I know will still get the most out of us.
July 13, 2010
Today we had a chance between practice to check out team USA practice and watch Max Seibald and the guys do some walk troughs. Some of the Polish guys were confused as to why Team USA wasn’t wearing full pads or playing full speed, since that’s what we had been doing all week. I had to explain the best I could that sometimes less is more, and that Team USA doesn’t really need the work as much as we do. I think they understood for the most part until they would see Paul Rabil or Ned Crotty drop a pass and kind of chirp at them a little. They’d say “why are these guys missing passes”, and crack a joke about how all their accolades don’t mean that much. It was pretty funny and definitely a good experience for them to see that level of lacrosse being played right in front of them.
July 14, 2010
We had another scrimmage this morning against the Swiss. Needless to say, it was another strong win for the Polish team. We are really starting to come together on and off the field. After the scrimmage and our afternoon practice I was able to hop on a bus with Chris Perzinski and four of the Polish guys. This was one of the best times I’ve had with these guys and felt it was a pretty important thing to do to really bring together our team. We talked a lot about lacrosse and the development of the game in Poland and how it has come so far. I can really tell how dedicated these guys are to the sport and learning and getting better. We ended up going to a few bars where some Canadian and American national players were hanging out. Before I could even point out a few guys for them, they all were telling me how they just saw Paul Rabil and John Grant Jr.
e were talking with Zach Greer. I found it hilarious that as soon as he left, they mentioned how cool it was to shake hands with the only 200+ goal scorer in college lacrosse. I was shocked to hear them know so much about the game, and it really was funny seeing them “star gazing” over everyone. They were in heaven and sometimes pushed the limit with what they said. Direct quote to Paul Rabil was “you’re lucky I wasn’t in that fastest shot competition with you.”
July 15, 2010
It’s the last day before the opening ceremonies so we had just one practice today to try and keep the legs somewhat fresh. The level at which these guys have progressed is unreal. It was amazing during our 6 vs. 6 segments. Everyone knew their roles and responsibilities and could fully communicate it back to me. It really astonishes me how much they look up to the American guys. So much so, that they absorb every little thing we do, sometimes to a fault. There was a play where I purposely ran right past my guy, instead of breaking down, so that we could work on a slide progression. A few plays later, after we subbed in new guys, I see one of the Polish guys do the exact same thing I had done. He had no regard for the dodger driving to the cage. I laughed pretty hard with the American guys on the sideline and then ended up having to go explain to the Polish guy why we wouldn’t do that. It’s just great that they are that detail orientated to try and get better. That is something that you can’t teach.
The experience so far has been so rewarding. It’s great seeing all the investment we are putting in returning so quickly. I am already so proud of these guys and we haven’t played a single game yet! I can’t wait to see their passion once we start up on Friday morning against Bermuda!