Pro Lacrosse is Here to Stay: Welcome the Waterdogs Lacrosse Club
When the Premier Lacrosse League debuted a little under a year ago, in June 2019, many people were doubtful. For a sport that is trying gain popularity, many people thought that it would be unwise to form two different professional leagues. When the PLL Championship was played on September 21st, Paul Rabil, a co-founder and midfielder for the Atlas Lacrosse Club was on the field for an interview after the Whipsnakes Lacrosse Club just scored and became the first team to in PLL history to win the championship. Rabil said, “the product on field has been fantastic, let’s look into the future, we are looking at new venues, we sold out venues this year, we beat viewership expectations, pro-lacrosse is here to stay long into the future, and we look at the signal of market growth we talk about expansion.” Not obvious to all, Chief Strategy Officer of the PLL Paul Rabil hinted at the creation of a 7th lacrosse club. When Paul Rabil joined the Barstool Sports podcast “PardonMyTake” to talk about the PLL and this expansionary team, Barstool Podcasters Dan “Big Cat“ Katz, and Eric “PFT Commentator” Sollenberger really helped Rabil push the PLL to a new audience, who would not typically consume content concerning Professional Lacrosse. On January 1st, 2020 PardonMyTake announced that the 7th PLL Lacrosse Club was going to be named the “Waterdogs Lacrosse Club” and that the Barstool Sports Podcasters are the owners of the Waterdogs.
In order to fill the roster of this new team, the current teams were required to submit an 11-man protected roster, and the players who were deemed not to be protected can be drafted during the PLL expansion draft. The PLL expansion draft will take place on February 12th, 2020, and all players not marked as part of the “protected roster” of the team they currently play on in the PLL will be available to the Waterdogs. The Waterdogs are unable to select more than 4 players from one Lacrosse Club. The Waterdogs will draft 18 players. Some notable players in the expansion draft include Chris Cloutier, both Thompson brothers, and Ryan Drenner. This list includes All-Americans, National Champions, and players who have scored multiple game winning goals for their previous Lacrosse Clubs.
As a lacrosse fan, I love this move by the PLL. Not only did they collaborate with Barstool Sports, an extremely popular sports media company that has been recently valued at $450 Million Dollars, but this 7th team makes for a great story line within the sport. The PLL is not a league that shy’s away from drama or “beef.” During the second week of play there was a fist fight, and Ryder Garnsey, an attackman on the Redwoods Lacrosse Club is famous for his smack talk during PLL games.
The Waterdogs carry the motto that “every game is a revenge game.” As none of the lacrosse clubs “belong” to a certain city, some people may find it hard to connect to one lacrosse club; however, I feel as if this “underdog” mentality is something that many fans can connect to. The Waterdogs and its players will enter the league this season with the mentality that every game they are the underdogs because they are full of players that were not prioritized by their previous teams.
I think that the PLL has done a great job making it easy for each lacrosse club to have its own personality: mic’d up players, on field interviews, and cameras in the team huddle have really given fans the ability to make tangible connections with athletes that may not be as big as football players. The Waterdogs are just a continuation of good things being done by the PLL to grow the game of lacrosse and show that professional lacrosse is here to stay.