Israeli Lacrosse Squad Returns to Field, Seeking Out a New Normal Despite Coronavirus

'Keeping your distance seems like a simple concept, but if the beginning goes well, you start getting into the flow of practice and suddenly find yourself on top of a teammate'

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Israel's national lacrosse squad practicing in Ashkelon, May 6, 2020.
Israel's national lacrosse squad practicing in Ashkelon, May 6, 2020.Credit: Jacob Silberlicht

Israel Lacrosse’s national men’s team held its first practice since the coronavirus pandemic shut down all team sports activity in March, taking to the field at Wingate Institute on Monday under government guidelines.

“There were five of us there,” acting player-coach Jacob Silberlicht told Haaretz. “It was funny because keeping your distance seems like a simple concept, but if the beginning goes well, you start warming up and getting into the flow of practice, and then you go to drink water or collect balls and you suddenly find yourself on top of a teammate.”

Silberlicht said the association had to submit a 10-player roster for each of the men’s and women’s teams, and that they cannot deviate from those lists. “You can’t have one player show up one time and another the next,” he explained. Silberlicht is also head coach for the under-19 national team and responsible for youth development, both of which are still on pause.

Taking temperature before Israel's national lacrosse squad practice at Wingate Institute, May 4, 2020.
Taking temperature before Israel's national lacrosse squad practice at Wingate Institute, May 4, 2020.Credit: Jacob Silberlicht

Under the new measures, players have to maintain two meters (6.5 feet) of distance between one another at all times. Their temperatures were taken prior to each practice, and they were not allowed to use facility showers.

“We are starting practices slowly to learn how to practice safely. In terms of the virus we’re being super careful,” Silberlicht said. “We’re trying to get enough experience where players can come to the field, keep safe and keep their distance from one another. We want to do this the right way.”

While the first practice was for the veteran players, another four younger members of the team joined for the second practice at the national training center in Ashkelon. “We sat down after practice Monday and discussed what was working and what wasn’t,” Silberlicht said. “We have since had a few more drills, and overall the way the practice ran was much smoother. I anticipate next week will be even better.”

It’s not clear when local competitions will resume. Silberlicht said the teams “will practice and see how it goes.” Several international competitions have been postponed or canceled. The nearest event is the 2020 Heritage Cup, which was moved from later this month in Philadelphia to early October in the New York City/Long Island area.

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