The Philadelphia Wings, led by team captain Brodie Merrill (center), opened training camp for the 2013 NLL season this past weekend with 36 players vying for 26 roster spots. (Photo: John McCabe)
The Philadelphia Wings kicked off their 2013 National Lacrosse League preseason with the opening of training camp at Bucksmont Indoor Sports Center in Hatfield, PA this past weekend. The coaching staff invited 36 players (28 runners and eight goalies) to compete for the team's 23 active roster spots, in addition to the three-man practice squad.
This season’s training camp was preceded by a rookie and free agent camp on Nov. 17. From the selection camp, 14 players were invited to take part in the official training camp and are vying for about six available spots to this year’s roster.
“We met with each of the 14 free agents and rookies to discuss camp and the opportunity they had here,” said Wings head coach and general manager Johnny Mouradian. “After the meetings, you could tell those players listened and really got after it. There was a lot of intensity and these players showed a lot of heart.”
Of the players invited as free agents, Ethan Farrell, a former Division III All-American at Lynchburg University, turned some heads with his offensive prowess and ability to find the net.
Rookie draft picks, Mike Manley and C.J. Costabile, both former Duke Blue Devils, showed signs they could join the team as key contributors for the upcoming season. Only a few months removed from the collegiate level, the rookies' progress adjusting to the indoor game was noted by many, including Wings captain Brodie Merrill.
“It always takes some time for college players to make that adjustment," Merrill said. "But both those guys [Manley and Costabile] have shown signs that they are ready to make a quick transition to the indoor game."
Merrill and defender Brett Manney showed their veteran leadership by taking time to talk and instruct players on both sides of the field. But neither Merrill, Manney or any of the other veterans on the Wings took training camp lightly. Each showed up fit and ready to compete for what would be a NLL-record seventh title in 2013.
“We’re ready," Merrill said. “We know what our goals are. We got a great start here at camp and we’re ready to take it to that next step.”
Fans that attended the weekend’s open practices were impressed with the team’s intensity, a sentiment echoed by coach Mouradian.
“Everyone here wants to be here," said Philadelphia's second-year head coach. "They want to be a part of the Wings organization and they’re focused on that. Guys were out there scooping up loose balls, getting physical and that’s what we like to see"
The team’s next step will be two exhibition games at Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (TRAC) in Oakville, Ontario on Friday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. against the Buffalo Bandits and Saturday, Dec. 22 at 7 p.m. against the Toronto Rock.
The Wings open up the 2013 regular season at home against the Bandits on Friday, Jan. 11 at 7:00 p.m at Wells Fargo Center.