October 4, 2022

Captain’s Scribe: Utica Edition

Guest written by Josh Schwall, who made Aliyah in 2019 to coach youth lacrosse and serve a brief stint in the Israel Defense Forces. Schwall is hoping to crack Israel’s national box team roster at the 2024 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships.

If you play box lacrosse in North America, you will of course, at some point, have heard of the LAXNAI tournament that takes place annually in Central New York. For those that might not know, LAXNAI is the biggest box lacrosse tournament in the world, slightly larger than the Aleš Hrebeský Memorial that is held every April in Prague. LAXNAI has grown considerably since 2019, the last time that the tournament took place due to COVID, and this year hosted 24 men’s teams and 10 youth teams which includes international squads such as Goldstar Tel Aviv, Poland, Ireland and Hungary.

Typically played at the Onondaga Nation Fieldhouse, or Tsha’Thon’nhes, the tournament found a new home in Utica, NY at the Adirondack Bank Center which serves as the home of the AHL’s Utica Comets and the NABLL’s Utica Yeti. Having personally participated in the 2019 LAXNAI tournament that was held at the Onondaga Fieldhouse and this year’s tournament in Utica, I can say that there are pros and cons to both locations.


In 2019, I decided to camp outside of the Fieldhouse with a number of other players during the tournament. And while this was a fun and interesting way to experience the tournament it definitely did not do my body any favors in the form of recovery between games. But, staying in the Onondaga Nation was such a tremendous experience and being able to see and be in the area where the game of lacrosse was created is something that cannot easily be described.

Utica, on the other hand, had no issue accommodating all of the players and provided great facilities for the tournament. The Adirondack Center was amazing for players and fans and provided a great overall experience for the tournament. Plus, with the current construction that is happening there, they will have more indoor rinks for future tournaments. They are definitely looking to become a hotbed for lacrosse in the area to say the least.

At the end of the day, both locations are very unique and I would be happy to be able to play in either again in the future. What do you think?

The tournament itself was fast paced and competitive. With so many NLL, pro lacrosse athletes, getting ready for their training camps, the tournament hosts many teams that bring current, former and soon to be NLL stars into the mix. This creates an energy at the tournament that you will not find at other men’s tournaments.

I was given the opportunity to play with Goldstar Tel Aviv, which has been a goal I have been chasing since 2017 when I first got involved with Israel Lacrosse. In 2017, I was invited to tryout for the Israel men’s field team and to participate in the Israel Lacrosse Birthright Trip. This included playing in the IPLL, the Israel Premier Lacrosse League, where I helped to represent Be’er Sheva with other American, Israeli and even international athletes. We won the championship that year and it was one of, if not the best summer of my life to this point. I returned in the summer of 2018 for the World Championships in Netanya to help run the games as an intern (unfortunately I did not make the team). I did still have an amazing experience and worked with ESPN to stream all of the major games. Finally, in 2019, after I graduated from UCF, I made Aliyah (gained Israeli citizenship) and moved to Ashkelon where I helped to run and coach the Ashkelon and Be’er Sheva programs.

Like I said, I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to play with Goldstar Tel Aviv for the 2022 LAXNAI tournament. We had a great group of guys that was evenly mixed with Israel national team players, prospects, and friends of the program from across North America. I loved how well the team got along and the mishpacha (family) energy was there right from the beginning.

We played extremely well together considering that many of us had never even met each other prior to the first practice on Thursday morning. I know that I continued to learn a lot from the new players and coaches on the team that had more experience than myself which was a great opportunity.

Jason Crosbie, a long-time member of Israel’s box coaching staff, and Chad Culp, a former Team Israel player, coached the team for this tournament. They both have experience coaching in the NLL and they did an outstanding job communicating and setting a high standard for all of us during the games. They held everyone accountable and made sure that everyone was on the same page throughout the tournament. As a coach myself, this is not an easy task considering, as I commented on earlier, that not many of us had played together before. I did really appreciate that they both also took the time to speak with me after the games and answer any questions that I might have had. This was important to me because I never received any formal coaching when it came to box lacrosse, I just kind of jumped into the mix at a tournament in Prague and fell in love with the discipline there.

Overall, we made it to the championship game after playing a brutal semifinal game against the Seneca Marksmen where we won 6-5. We unfortunately fell short in the championship game against the Rochester Bats. Tel Aviv was down by one goal and man up with 42 seconds left in the game. The final blow however was scored by the Bats in the last four seconds of the game. It was a real bummer but all things considered, I am very proud with how we played, especially against a team with plenty of NLL players and lots of talent. Next year will definitely be our year!

All in all, LAXNAI was a great success across the board. Many players will now start preparing for our next training camp in Prague in April 2023 and then return to Central New York for LAXNAI 2023 later in the year. Hoping to see many of you out there next year as well!