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Rand plans to keep Shoreline Lacrosse around forever, starting now

Adam Rand doesn't tend to understate what Shoreline Lacrosse, a club program he founded in 2009, means to him or what his long-term goal is.

"We're going to keep this program around forever," Rand said. "I've had people say, 'We'd love to buy your program.' Not over my dead body. The program means the world to me. I believe I've got the best coaching staff. We've grown every single year. We're here for the long term.

"When practice starts, it takes you away. I just have fun with it."

Shoreline's boys' and girls' teams, nicknamed the Sharks, got back on the field for the first time Thursday after a lengthy hiatus due to the COVID-19 crisis (and an additional shorter wait due to this week's rain).

The outdoor practices, the only ones allowed at this time, were held at Bridebrook Park in Niantic, the home town of the 30-year-old Rand, who is a 2007 East Lyme High School graduate. They were carefully planned out to include social distancing — a series of individual drills as opposed to line drills — and face coverings with the newly branded Sharks mascot were available recently on the Shoreline web site.

Rand's love of lacrosse began in East Lyme and continued during his career at Division I Stony Brook University, where he became one of the nation's top face-off specialists of all-time. He graduated with 796 face-offs won, third most in NCAA Division I history, and was second all-time in face-offs attempted. He earned United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association honorable mention All-America honors as a senior.

Drafted by the Hamilton Nationals of Major League Lacrosse in 2011, Rand played professionally for six seasons, winning two championships as a member of the Chesapeake Bayhawks (2012-13). The Bayhawks won the 2012 title at Harvard Stadium in Boston before 7,384 fans.

Rand, who lives in Old Saybrook with his wife Jean and baby daughter Penelope, born June 19, is now a business development manager for Neuronetics, Inc., a commercial-stage medical device company in Malvern, Pa. He works remotely in the Northeast region, though, allowing him time to obsess over lacrosse.

And he does.

"I played lacrosse here, I was lucky enough to play in college and when I came back I thought, 'How can we take an area of Connecticut that's not known for lacrosse and ultimately get southeastern Connecticut to become a hotbed?'" Rand recounted in a telephone interview this week.

"I knew it was going to take a long time. We changed the mold. Instead of summer club lacrosse, we started going year-round with our teams, we put a structure together."

Rand began Shoreline Lacrosse as a series of camps when he was just a sophomore in college. After he arrived at Stony Brook on lacrosse-crazed Long Island, he was around several alumni of the program who were involved in club lacrosse, recruiting the current players to run a series of evaluations on the club level.

"I thought, 'I need to take this. We need this in southeastern Connecticut,'" Rand said. "That's why we started the camps."

Among the Sharks committed to playing in college are recent high school graduates Scott Galbo of East Lyme (Eastern Connecticut State), Hunter Lizza of East Lyme (Palm Beach Atlantic), Scott Pion of Wheeler (Post), Kyle Jacobson of Waterford (Coast Guard Academy) and rising seniors Devyn Jordan of Fitch (LIU Post) and Jake Chapman of Bacon Academy (American International College).

Norwich Free Academy head boys' lacrosse coach Nate Wheeler and Stonington boys' coach Nick Warhola are part of Rand's experienced 15-20-person coaching staff and Rand, who oversees the overall Shoreline program as well as undertaking an ambitious recruiting initiative with the players, also still coaches.

He will coach the Class of 2021 until the end of summer — the year-long committment runs from August to August — then take over the third-grade team, the youngest of all the Sharks.

"When I was playing professionally, I knew I had to make a decision," Rand said. "If I wanted to dedicate all of my focus into the club, I couldn't do both. I thought, 'It's time to go all in.' In lacrosse, you have to find an outlet to get that great feeling again like you had when you were a player. I found that in coaching."

As far as keeping the players engaged during the days they were quarantined due to the coronavirus, Rand held recruiting meetings via video conference and he instituted a wall-ball challenge, giving prizes at the end of each week during an eight-week period for players who had the most wall-ball repetitions.

"It kept the kids out there, kept them active," he said.

The Sharks are scheduled to make their first tournament appearance of the summer in Stowe, Vt., July 18-19. New anti-fog face shields, produced by Cascade, which designs lacrosse helmets, will be added to all of the program's helmets.

"The players are very anxious, but I couldn't tell you if the coaches are more anxious or the players," Rand said.

"The most important to us is the kids, just the kids mentally in general. That was something that hit home with us. Times are changing as a program. We need to ramp up, but how do we return to play? How do we return safely to eventually get back out on the field? We wanted to make sure our members knew we had their backs; no matter what, we're going to create a solution for them.

"I had a conversation with a couple parents about the pandemic, the kids being home, the kids not being motivated. There's always a will and a way to find control to come out of something. We want to help message the kids: 'A lot was taken away from you. There's positive behind it. Now you know the value of what those things mean to you.'

"I personally believe this group of kids are going to learn a lot from these times. There are a lot of impressive leaders that are going to come out of these boys and girls."

v.fulkerson@theday.com

 

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