Thai training wins games

DAVE CAMERON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:07 AM ET

It's sometimes said that lacrosse is not for the faint of heart.

It's definitely not for the weak of body.

Or even mind.

Which is a train of thought conditioning coach Gordie Gong brings to Ontario's Six Nations Arrows junior lacrosse squad. Something he has practised all his life with martial arts.

"Muay Thai is known for its elite conditioning methodologies of building both your upper torso and your lower body," said the one-time Canadian Thai boxing champion before the Arrows beat Burnaby 8-6 last night at Bill Hunter Arena. "So I started to work the boys with a little Muay Thai, but also working on the mental and emotional components of sports.

"The boys were having problems with focus and discipline. So that was one of my jobs.

"With that I was able to convince them that discipline comes from them. As a coach I don't order my students, I don't make 'em, it's got to come from them. I encourage them. I use my discipline to teach them what discipline is."

Gong had hooked up with the team after moving to southern Ontario form his B.C. home. He still trains boxers at the Hamilton Muay Thai club.

COMMON GROUND

Apart from the mental aspect, Gong found much common ground.

"The physiology of my sport, Thai boxing, and lacrosse, both require strong upper bodies, from the hips up to the shoulders. So doing Muay Thai, they did that, they got stronger up there. Plus there's flexibility, endurance. Both sports require fast reflexes, agility, mobility, high cardio - run, run, run!

"I don't play lacrosse, but I know sports. I know performance. I know competition, I know travel ... stuff from my experience."

KNOWS PAIN

He also knows pain. And lacrosse is known to involve a crosscheck or two, so Gong said his massage and Asian healing techniques came in useful.

"One day I went to congratulate the boys after a win and they had their shirts off and (with all the welts and bruises) they looked just like my fighters!"

Discipline is also something Six Nations coach Randy Chrysler brings to the team.

From the Tusker Indian Nation near Niagara Falls, New York, Chrysler had played against many of the fathers and uncles of the players he's coaching.

He always knew the talent was there, he said, but there was something that need a little extra work.

"A lot of people say I'm strict, and I am," Chrysler said. ''I have practices before Sunday's games in the morning and you come in there smelling like booze, or you're late, then you're not prepared to play for me, play with this team.

''So I sit 'em. I don't care if your my highest score, my best defenceman, my goalie."

They are here to achieve the goal that has driven them all year.

"I told the guys you can phone a travel agency any time of the year, 365, and get a flight out to Edmonton. We're not here for the travel.

''We're here for the Minto Cup and the kids are ready and focused."


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