Inside the MLL Bubble with Nick Washuta
Former UVM Lacrosse star gets first taste of the pro game
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - It certainly isn’t the way Nick Washuta imagined it.
“Never in a million years would I have thought it would be like this,” Washuta said from his hotel room in Annapolis, Maryland.
But the former UVM star goaltender is getting his first taste of professional lacrosse this week with the Denver Outlaws. And for obvious reasons it’s going to be unlike any other Major League Lacrosse season.
“It was supposed to be a bi-weekly thing, and I think they ran into issues with that with the Canadians traveling to and from the US,” Washuta said. “They started looking at other ideas and what other things like the NBA and NHL and all that are doing, so I think that’s how they decided to go with the tournament style thing.”
Instead of traditional home and away games on the weekends, Washuta and players from all six MLL teams are in Annapolis, Maryland this week, packing in 5 regular-season games per team and a four-team playoff in the span of just 9 days. It seems like a huge ask for the players, but Washuta says most of them are used to this type of schedule.
“Most guys, they’re going to recruiting tournaments when they’re in high school and playing 6, 7 games in a weekend,” he said. “And I think that definitely helps, I know some guys are farther out of college than others and whatnot, but I definitely think that everyone’s had that exposure and have a similar experience to what this is gonna be like.”
But what they’re probably not used to is the concept of all being quarantined in the same hotel as the other teams for the extent of the tournament.
“Yeah it’s pretty weird honestly, no one’s leaving the hotel, all the food’s getting catered in,” Washuta said. “We’re eating in our rooms alone, we’re trying to stay as socially distant as possible, everyone’s wearing masks. It’s a weird experience for sure.”
It’s essentially a “bubble” atmosphere, with players only leaving the hotel for their practice sessions and games at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. And that’s just one of many precautions the league is taking to protect everyone involved as we continue to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
“So we took one COVID test before traveling here, and then every single day we get temperature tested here. If anyone fails the temperature test, they will have to go do a COVID test,” Washuta said.
As for the actual lacrosse, Washuta says he’s still adjusting to the pro game, which makes sense considering the team just had their first practice on Thursday.
“The speed of play is obviously a little bit faster than college and I’m still getting used to the new ball,” Washuta said. “It’s like dimpled and it actually has a little more movement, it curves sometimes more than normal ball would have.”
And even though he will be the team's backup at first, Washuta says he's excited to be getting to play with and against some of the biggest names in the sport. As for an overall goal, Washuta has one thing in mind.
“Winning a championship,” he said. “Wasn’t able to do it at UVM, and I want to change that here.”
The tournament began Saturday and runs through next Sunday.
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