With only weeks to go, Thailand prepares for its first FIL World Championship this summer, the coaches for Team Thailand must do the same.
Coach Dylan Sheridan will lead Team Thailand as head coach. Sheridan is the assistant coach at the University of Denver, where he serves under legendary coach Bill Tierney and alongside the inventive Matt Brown. Coach Sheridan will use his experiences at Denver and from his years in the sport to lead TLA in its first World Games.
“I’ve been so fortunate to work with and play for some extremely distinguished coaches throughout my career,” Sheridan said. “I am so thankful for them and for their continued mentorship. I didn’t get into college coaching with an illustrious pedigree, so spending time with men that have led their teams to NCAA Championships and helmed some of the most acclaimed programs in our sport, can at times feel surreal. I don’t take it for granted for one minute.”
The lessons these coaches have passed on to Coach Sheridan will surely come in handy as Thailand faces the stiff international competition. “It goes without saying, they’ve taught me a great deal about the game, the x’s and o’s. But lots of coaches have a great understanding of the game from a tactical standpoint. What I quickly learned is that these guys are a blend of some innate leadership qualities and some qualities that were cultivated through years of experience. Their fingerprints are all over my coaching style, but mainly they’ve given me confidence and taught me to 1) have faith in my abilities and 2) surround myself with good people.”
Recently, Coach Sheridan has found success in Denver, as the Pioneers just appeared in their third Final Four in four years. His experience at DU has prepared him to coach in important games with a lot on the line. Hopefully, this success will remain in the Mile High City at the World Games this summer.
“My experience at DU and the success we’ve been able to have here will play a large role in how I prepare for the World Games,” Coach Sheridan said. “Clearly the on the field aspects will be heavily DU influenced, perhaps more importantly, the culture we are building within the program will have a foundation based off my experiences as a Pioneer.” Coach Sheridan has not been limited to Denver in his career, though. The Ohio native went out to California to play lacrosse at Claremont McKenna before traveling east to begin his coaching career. Sheridan also has international lacrosse experience with U.S. club teams in international settings.
“This experience will be different and far more exciting than my previous international lacrosse experiences because of what Team Thailand represents. I truly feel like this a once in a lifetime opportunity. The scope of influence these World Games could have for the sport is incredible. Success and failure won’t be measured in medals or even wins. The goal is to do everything within our power to honor the sport of lacrosse and Thailand, to compete to the best of our ability, become a stronger program/team every day we are together, and to leave it all on the field.”
Overall, Coach Sheridan is excited for the experience of coaching in the World Games for Team Thailand because of the special opportunity for everyone involved with TLA. “On a less serious note, I am genuinely looking forward to our players and coaches sharing this World Games experience with their friends and family,” Sheridan said.
“We are all involved because we love the game. This event will play host the greatest lacrosse ever played by some of the greatest players to ever pick up sticks. I want everybody involved in our program to appreciate it, live in the moment, and leave with memories they’ll take with them for a lifetime.”
As Coach Sheridan begins to make these memories, he will be familiar with one of the faces joining him on the sideline this summer. Coach Andy German is the defensive coordinator at Villanova University, one of Denver’s Big East opponents.
Coach German looks forward to the opportunity to coach with Sheridan, rather than against him, for Team Thailand this summer.
“It will be great to coach with Dylan and see how he organizes practices, game plans for opponents, prepares scouting reports, etc. He has learned from a couple of the best coaches the game has seen in Coach Haus and Coach Tierney, so from that standpoint it will be a terrific learning experience. It’s especially rewarding to see a fellow assistant be rewarded with a head coaching role, and I’m honored that I get to be a part of TLA alongside him and the other coaches.”
Coach German will bring his experiences from working with talented collegiate athletes at Villanova. This season at Villanova German coached standout defenseman John LoCascio, and his experience with LoCascio will guide his work with TLA.
“It’s been a privilege to coach student-athletes like John, and the experience has undoubtedly made me a better coach,” German said. “As cliché as it may sound, players like John don’t excel due to talent alone, but because they demonstrate dedication, hard work and a commitment to constant improvement. It’s been a pleasure to watch our guys succeed at the highest level of college lacrosse. I hope to bring that same mentality to Team Thailand.”
As these coaches tackle the challenges of working with a new team, their experiences at the collegiate level will certainly serve to direct them. German notes that they will need to recognize the differences between the players at the international level and the students they coach at colleges.
“Being a collegiate coach and having recruiting responsibilities for our program has exposed me to a wealth of talented athletes, many of whom have been playing lacrosse their entire lives. As college coaches we can tend to take the skills development piece for granted. The greatest coaching challenge for me lies in determining where our focus should be: heavy on skill instruction, more emphasis on team strategy, or a mix of the two. I can’t wait for our first couple of practices to get an idea of what it will take for us to be successful.”
Coach German is most excited for the opportunities the world games represent, not only for himself but for Thailand and the sport. “The opportunity to develop relationships with not only our players on Team Thailand but also the athletes and coaches from the other participating countries will be a great experience and one that I will hopefully look back on with extremely fond memories,”
Coach German said. “Having grown up with the game, been a collegiate athlete, and now having coached for the past six years, it’s hard to replicate new experiences having to do with lacrosse. To coach with TLA and represent Thailand in their first world games is an experience I will certainly not take for granted.”
Another coach to lead TLA in its first World Games is Coach Michael Brand. Coach Brand will guide Team Thailand as an offensive coordinator. Brand has worked with lacrosse teams in England and Louisiana, and he is currently the head coach of the MCLA club team at Texas State.
While Coach Brand has worked with the sport in areas where the sport is not very popular, he has not forgotten his upstate New York roots. “Growing up in upstate New York where the game was invented has always given me a great perspective on how to teach the game,” Brand said. “I’ve always known that it’s a sport that when taught correctly, it will be absorbed quickly. Working in nontraditional areas has taught me how to teach the game to those who are new to our sports and those lessons will come in handy in Denver.”
Coach Brand’s various experiences have helped him to understand the universal truths in coaching at level. Brand will be sure to utilize his understanding of the sport and athletes to find success for TLA. “One aspect of a player’s approach that has held true at every level is that their effort level is crucial. Demanding maximum effort has always been very important to me and that will impact everything we do in Denver.”
This season at Texas State, Coach Brand was named the LSA Coach of the Year, and Brand notes the important role his athletes had in his award.“It’s completely a testament to my players. Their dedication and willingness to listen, learn and take criticism is why I won that award.” Spending his life around the sport, Coach Brand is most excited to fulfill his dream of coaching at the World Games with Team Thailand.
“I have attended the last two world games as a spectator and it’s always been a dream of mine to coach at the event. Also, seeing the development of the TLA from afar has impressed me and I’m excited be a part of a well-organized program.”
Coaches Sheridan, German and Brand are excited to work with TLA along side three other coaching staffs in the World Games this summer as they seek to establish Thailand in the world of the lacrosse. Not only will working with the team provide new challenges for these coaches, but they hope to remember this opportunity for years to come.