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MacKay Preparing for Unusual PLL Season

UVM alumnus in Utah for Championship Series
Published: Jul. 25, 2020 at 7:06 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Back in early May, the Premier Lacrosse League became the first team sport in North America to announce a return to play plan, and now, 2 and a half months later, they're set to begin their season.

“The PLL did a really good job with communicating and giving us kind of the guidelines on when to start self-quarantining,” said 2018 UVM alumnus Ian MacKay, a member of PLL’s Archers. “We did a self-test at our homes through telemedicine. We had to wait to hear results back from that before we could actually fly out to Utah.”

Like many of the other sports leagues in North America, the PLL is operating under a “bubble” format, with the league’s 7 teams playing 4 “regular season” games to be followed by a single-elimination playoff. MacKay is one of a few with UVM ties participating in the tournament. He says the league is pulling out all the stops to keep things safe.

“We were in quarantine for probably about 36 hours before we heard our results back, and yesterday was day 1 of training camp,” MacKay said.

The league has put everyone involved up in the same hotel, which allows for MacKay and the rest of the guys to run into people they know on other teams...but he says he has yet to bump into UVM assistant coach Jake Bernhardt, a member of the defending champion Whipsnakes.

“I haven’t even seen him yet to be honest,” MacKay said. “I’ve been keeping an eye out for him, and when I do see him, I’ll make sure to throw a subtle jab or two at him. I’m fortunate and lucky enough to have Brian Kavanagh who’s also an assistant at UVM, he’s an assistant for the Archers here with us.”

Now Utah is not exactly a traditional lacrosse market, but at the time it was picked, it had some of the lowest case numbers of COVID in the country, and the facilities the PLL is using are perfect for a multiple-team “bubble” structure as everyone can practice and play at the same site.

“It’s the Real Salt Lake city soccer academy,” MacKay said. “It’s not the MLS team’s actual stadium but where their youth teams go to school and play and everything so I think there’s four or five fields there and then the main stadium we’ll be playing at is there as well.”

And for MacKay there’s an added bonus...

“The mountains are a little bigger out here, but as soon as we got off the plane, it reminded me exactly of being out in Vermont,” he said.

MacKay wasn’t a huge factor for the Archers last year as he missed training camp while playing for his indoor team, but he’s hopeful he can be a bigger threat in this tournament.

“I was a little late to the party last year and I think that kind of held me back a little bit just with my confidence and getting comfortable with the guys,” MacKay said. “Yesterday felt a lot more confident even just in our first couple practices being out with those guys and whatever they ask me to do, just go out and do it to the best of my ability and hopefully find a consistent role here and help these guys bring a championship.”

MacKay’s Archers play their first game on Monday and the PLL Championship Series runs through August 9th.

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