Recently, Seth Mahler came on my show to discuss the U19 championships.
Below is a transcript of my interview with him.
Listen to the interview here.
Special thanks to Amanda Tuck.
Ari: Welcome everybody to another episode of the Ari Louis show here on Israel sports and news radio. Thank you for joining us at any time you can email the program at AriLouissshow@hotmail.com or the station Israelsportsandnewsradio@gmail.com. Folks, Israel Lacrosse is one of the finest sporting organizations you’ll see it Israel they have a shoestring budget, but they got Scott Neiss. He makes things happen, as they’ve done great things over the past four years. They’ve been on ESPN several times and do very well in world tournaments. They got the Turkey National Team to come to Ashkelon. They’ve done a little of everything and they’re doing more. The best is yet to come. On the line right now, a member of the national team who participated in the World Championships and the head coach of the U19 men’s Israel lacrosse team on the program, Seth Mahler welcome to the program.
Seth: Hi how are you? Thanks for having me.
Ari: Absolutely, let’s go first to the quandary of being a player and being a coach. How do you transition? As you know, we see time and time again in sports, players have a hard time doing that. You know, Magic Johnson was not a good coach. We see guys, actually, that were a mid-level players they become very good coaches. Phil Jackson, for example, a very good coach. So how do you kind of transition from player to coach?
Seth: It’s kind of unique. I get to do it on a daily and weekly basis. I’ve kind of been coaching since I graduated college, so I learned a lot from my playing days. I’m still an active player, so I’m still constantly learning the game. I kind of transition my coaching from my youth background where I took a lot of my sports and kind of combined it together soccer, basketball, and hockey to form my lacrosse IQ. So, I’m constantly coaching every day with kids out here, so it’s not a hard transition for me. I get to do both pretty often.
Ari: Let’s talk about the age of these young men. I know you’re working with guys that are under 19, and the mentality a lot of times with teenagers is they think they know what’s best and they really don’t want to listen to other people. Have you found that at all, and, if so, how do you kind of work around it to get everyone on the same page and part of the same team concept?
Seth: Yeah sure, I mean you always kids that think they know how the world works and they’re quick to find out that they may not know everything but the guys we all work with in the country, not just myself, the kids respect us in a way that they see we know we’re talking about. We can do the fundamentals ourselves and they see us play so we kind of gain that respect from them and try to teach them going forward. As well as other life lessons learned from lacrosse and we can relate it to them going to the army or their life at home or their life at school. So we can kind of draw from different areas of life, not just lacrosse, to kind of bestow some wisdom on these young kids.
Ari: You know you bring up the military, I had on Nate Fish of Israel baseball he talked about working with some young men who have a sports exception. Basically, for those who don’t know if you’re listening abroad, everyone at eighteen has to go to the military, but there are exceptions. A sports exception is one of them. That’s why you see Omri Casspi of the NBA not having to serve in the military. He played basketball at 19 in America for your Sacramento Kings, so Nate Fish said he’d like to see more sports exceptions because it really derails the momentum of these young men when they have to stop training and stop playing for three years. You know, as the guy who is the head coach of the U19 team, would you like to see more sports exceptions in the world of Israel lacrosse?
Seth: Uh, sure, most definitely. Just like you said, some of these guys have to put their lacrosse passion and career on hold to go into the army and you know they’ll get to play on occasion when they have breaks. I believe what you’re talking about is sport tayim mistayen, which is a full exemption from the army, which I would love to see more of. It would be great to have more world-class athletes coming out of Israel. I believe you’re familiar with Jake Silberlicht, one of our other national team players and current IDF soldier.
Seth: He was actually given time off to go play in the Indoor World Championships which we competed in Syracuse, New York. He was given eight days of leave for the tournament so we are growing fast, Israel lacrosse, and we are gaining some notoriety and some contacts throughout the country so we haven’t exactly obtained the pure exemption, as Omri Casspi did, and we’d love to have that one day.
Ari: Absolutely, again, this is the Ari Louis show on Israel sports news radio joined by Seth Mahler and it’s a tough situation because obviously the military is such a huge part of israeli society, an important aspect, but at the same time, if these athletes can represent Israel on the world stage, that does a job as well. That is part of the the whole deal because we’re fighting a [inaudible] battle all the time the [inaudible] battle almost is more important than a military battle because that’s how the world looks at us. So if you were gonna try to sell someone who was in charge about giving a sports exception would you go along those lines of trying to sell it?
Seth: Along which line? Can you repeat that question?
Ari: Would you go along the lines of saying, ‘hey I understand military’s important, obviously, but to have the [inaudible] aspect of having these young guys compete on the world stage, represent Israel, and to play a sport like lacrosse, everyone sees Israel a positive light when that happens,’ you could testify personally a year and a half ago in Denver at the World Championships all the great relationships Israel made with other countries. I think that does wonders for the State of Israel its people. What do you think?
Seth: I certainly agree, we were playing out in Denver in 2014, kind of as the war was heightening here in the south and we played our first game as our fans watched on in-country under some sirens. So, you’d love to shed some more positive light on a world stage for israel and we would love to do that in the sports arena.
Ari: Yeah, and a woman told me a story a few years ago where they were supposed to play Friday night, and they were not able to because Israel lacrosse policy is not to do that, and the other team found out about it, and they also agreed not to play, and they spent a Shabbat together and exchanged gifts and were part of a Friday night service and I thought, you know, this would never happen under any circumstance. You would never see that; a team for another country comprised of non-Jews who joins Jews for Friday night service unless it is a sporting event, most likely. There are exceptions, but that’s pretty much where you see it, and I think sports has that unique ability to kind of get everyone together and on the same page no matter religion, background, race, culture, etc. What do you think?
Seth: I couldn’t agree more. And you see it more on the field than off. This is a great example where they were able to put differences aside and personal beliefs and kind of come together and make new friends and share in each other’s cultures.
Ari: Again, this is the Ari Louis show on Israel sports and news radio joined by Seth Mahler he’s the head coach of the U19 men’s team. That U19 team is having some big games coming up, a big tournament. Seth, tell us about it.
Seth: Sure, we have the U19 lacrosse World Championships just outside Vancouver, British Columbia in July, mid July, coming up we’re going on and seven months out and we have our tryout in Israel at the end of this month beginning of January we’ll have around a hundred players trying out for Israel’s team. It’s exciting as it will be our first men’s homegrown team competing on the world stage.
Ari: The mindset of the guys going into it, are they a bit nervous? I mean, they have every right to be. It’s not just a lot of people watching but they’re young kids at the end of the day. So what’s the mindset, the nerves going in for these players?
Seth: You know I think they’re more excited than nervous, I think they’re excited to represent their country. I think they’re excited to represent their families and their communities. They’re coming from all over Israel. They represent their city, not only their country, but I would kind of describe it as pure excitement at the chance to travel the world, play in front of a lot of people, and ideally surprise a lot of people.
Ari: What about the competition going in? The team Israel is going to face, or the teams, what are they like? What’s their level? What’s their background?
Seth: The level of competition is going to be pretty high. USA and Canada are top tier. You have the Iroquois, the Native Americans, the Haudenosaunee are top three. England and Australia have strong programs and we’re looking to compete at a very high level going in and we’ve got some high expectations and we will see kind of where we fall. The competition will be tough and I believe we will be prepared to take on those challenges.
Ari: Have you made a specific goal of if the team gets to X, you’re happy with it? if they’re under, you’re not so happy? Have you talked about that was with the team?
Seth: We haven’t exactly picked the team yet, so we haven’t had that discussion among the coaching staff, seeing kind of where we would like to place. I mean, every tournament you’re thinking about winning gold, but we have our realistic expectations and our heavy sights. We’d like to finish top-seven, top-five and kind of shock the lacrosse community a little bit.
Ari: As you guys did a year a half ago in Denver, right?
Seth: Correct, correct, as we also did in September. We competed in the Indoor World Championships and we took fourth in the world.
Ari: Yes, pretty good stuff. Again, big testament to Scott. Obviously, the players worked tremendously hard, but Scott put you guys in a position to get that done right?
Seth: Correct, correct.
Ari: Alright, alright so tell us after this tournament you go back into training with the national team. How does that work for you personally?
Seth: Personally, we’ll be going to the States for a warm-up tournament, and then we’ll be going to Canada for the U19 World Championships. It will be about a two week trip. We’ll return to Israel and I’ll have about a less than 10 day turn around and then we’re flying out to Budapest for the Men’s European Championships. My training efforts have ramped up as soon as I got back to the country in October and they’ll really kicking into high gear over the next six, seven months leading up to the U19 championships and then culminating with the men’s euros. So, it’s heavy. I’m coaching everyday, training every day and try to live the life we can here.
Ari: Amazing, Budapest. You know, did you ever think that you would be playing for Israel, playing lacrosse, and playing in Budapest in a tournament?
Seth: No, I never thought about until the location was announced. So, it’s definitely… lacrosse has given me a lot. I’ve travelled the world, and I’m excited to keep playing.
Ari: Again, this is the Ari Louis show on Israel sports and news radio. My guest is Seth Mahler, talking about the U19 tournament and then some of the plans that Seth and the national team will we’ll take upon and some of the tournaments they’ll be involved. And, Seth, it looks like I have been invited personally to come out January third to Ashkelon and be part of…you guys are having a mini camp, is that correct?
Seth: Correct, it’s a mini-camp and try-out. We’ll have about 35 to 40 American high school lacrosse players joining us on our winter service trip and the trip culminates with the U19 try-out here in Israel, in Ashkelon and I’ll be looking forward to having you with us that day.
Ari: Yeah, I’m very excited and a special thanks to Scott for inviting me out there, because I’ve interviewed so many of you guys but never met personally. It’s kind of weird because we are all like a family this point. I know you guys pretty well, but it’d be nice to shake some hands. So I’m looking forward to that. Anyone out there listening that wants to get involved, they want to support Israel lacrosse in anyway, what is the best way to go about doing that?
Seth: You should check out our website israellacrosse.com and my email is email@example.com.
Ari: Alright. There you go. Good stuff. Seth Mahler, boys and girls. He is coaching the U19 men’s team, also part of the national team. And Israel lacrosse is doing great, great stuff. Special thanks again to Scott Neiss for setting this up and Amanda Tuck is going to be part of some promotional things. Both Israel lacrosse and Israel sports news radio will be combining our efforts a bit for a promotion. So, I really support Israel Lacrosse. I want them to continue to do well. So, Seth, thanks for being on our program, buddy. We appreciate it.
Seth: Alright, thanks for having me. We’ll speak to you soon.
Ari: Sounds good, man. Be well and thank you, everyone, for listening. Again, another episode of the Ari Louis Show on Israel sports news radio. Email AriLouisshow@hotmail.com. Email the station at isrealsportsandnewsradio@ gmail.com. God bless. Be well. Stay Safe and Shalom from Israel.