It’s an ugly little word and pro athletes don’t like to talk about it. There’s even a nice little euphemism for it, ‘{unconditional release,” they call it in front office circles. But “cut” is more accurate and it’s what the Boston Bolts first training camp is all about. “We didn’t run a training camp to get players in shape, we ran a training camp to find in-shape players for our team,” is the way Bolts coach Larry Ferguson put it The place was the Emily Omemee (Oh-mee•mee) Cornmunity Center, 80 miles east of Toronto. There were 45 lacrosse players there when camp opened on April 1. There were 31 when camp broke on April 9. And that’s what cutting is all about.

It was a tough camp, physically and psychologically, according to Ferguson. “We opened with a couple of days of general conditioning and fundamental drills — passing and that sort of thing — but then we went with full length scrimmages twice a day and that’s when things got tough.’ What was played on the floor of the Omemee Community Center looked like just another series of rough box lacrosse games. But what it was, was 45 basically aggressive young men fighting for the 31 seats on the bus to Boston. A sort of musical chairs with hickory sticks. “Yes, we had a few fights,” Ferguson admits, “but 

mostly what we had was hard hitting. They were really whacking each other.’ Ferguson, managing director Bob Hanna and assistant G.M.  Rowe Barrett, kept game by game statistics. These, together with Ferguson’s judgement, went into deciding who would be brought to Boston and who would get an all expense paid trip back home.

Sometimes it’s easy. If a player is out of shape it shows up on the first day. Then you have the guys who turn in a great training camp. “A1 Lewthwaite, Ivan Thompson, Daffy McCarthy, Bram Wilfong and a few other guys were obvious choices just by the way they played,” said Ferguson. But, after the obvious cuts and obvious keeps, it comes down to the twilight zone of intangibles. Who has the desire? The competitiveness? Will the player you cut come back to haunt you? Will the man you keep let you down? Those are the kinds of choices pro get paid to make. And making it can be as hard as taking it, which is what the final cut comes down to  walking up to a player and telling him straight out that you’re not going to keep him. A lot of coaches palm the job off on assistants or hatchet men. Ferguson did it himself.  I called the players down to my room, one at a time, and told them why decided not to take them to Boston,” Cutting. It’s a miserable word. It’s a miserable job. But losing is worse.


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