With all the craziness going on in the world of Buckeye sports (read: football), today I will cover something totally different in tone and content.
The Lax Bucks recently had the time of their lives in Portugal on a field trip of sorts. It was an amazing time, from the looks of it, with Buckeye social media awash in amazing sights from the Portugal coastline.
It was a trip of a little lacrosse, and a lot of seeing the world, so there won't be much analysis of their games (which were not broken down by social media that I could fine in any fashion, even scorelines). But it is a really interesting trip for the Buckeyes to be taking at this point, for a variety of reasons.
The Lax Bucks got to Portugal, decompressed for a day, then got an immediate jump on the lacrosse portion of their trip.
A game against England was followed by a pep talk by Doug Shanahan, who is the current head coach of England. Shanahan is a former All-World player for the United States, with coaching stops in HS, MCLA, and now the international stage.
After a stop for some sightseeing, the Buckeyes played the Lions again, before spending the last few days exploring Portugal, surfing, and generally enjoying some time abroad. Part of the adventure was doing a few clinics for Portuguese kids, while sporting some pretty awesome t-shirts.
Overall, it was a trip to remember for those guys, especially as a bunch of new faces come into the squad. What's most interesting to me is the timing, and really the fact that they went overseas at all.
My fascination stems from the fact that trips like these aren't supposed to happen for teams like Ohio State. Notre Dame had a similar trip a couple years ago to Italy, where I believe they also played the same opposition.
The difference is that Notre Dame is a school you expect to be taking a trip with their players, because the alumni are notorious for being generous donors to the school. The Irish have a whole Twitter account dedicated to the lacrosse experience there, highlighting things like this trip.
What you don't see are teams like Albany (Final Four two years ago), Syracuse (good Lord, all the titles in 1990s), or Virginia (won another title in 2019) taking off for foreign shores like this. Ohio State's version of a gap year (summer?), in many ways, marks a brand new chapter of the team.
Despite two years in a row of bad endings, someone cares enough about the lacrosse program to donate to get them overseas. And, as lacrosse is really a niche sport dominated by blue bloods and Ivies, it really puts the Buckeye program on the map as an attractive destination.
The flip side, of course, can be summed up in one question: After an abominable 2018, and missing the tournament in 2019 because of a first ever loss to TTUN, what in the heck are the Buckeyes doing going overseas at all? The team had some early signs of improvement in 2019, to be sure, but really fell off at the end of the year.
You don't see Alabama's football team shoving off for Australia or the French Riveria to enjoy some nice sights while soaking up local culture. The staff and squad are too busy getting ready for another title run.
Highlighting the team-building aspect of a trip like this is not unwarranted. It certainly does imbue a lifetime of memories for these young men, and telling recruits they'll be able to see the world has an allure.
Honestly, the grumpy old man part of me may be steering the ship, but even my opinion doesn't change the fact that this is a brand new phase for the program under Coach Myers, and in its history.
The Buckeyes are looking to take a place alongside the blue bloods of the sport, and this is just one more tool to use to achieve that aim. That said, I am ready for fall practice.
Before the end of the month, I will be dropping a 2021 recruiting post that will cover a few of the recruits the Buckeyes will be chasing hard.
September 1st is the first day of contact for college coaches with 2021 prospects, and it will be a madhouse. I am excited to watch the chaos.
Here's a link if you want to check out more from the Buckeyes' trip.