Laxphilly and Edge of Philly Sports Networks own Gary Groob had a chance to catch up with one of the up and coming players that the Arena Lacrosse League has to offer…Henry Archie.
Henry has been an integral part of the Oshawa Outlaws this year, on his journey to one day playing in the National Lacrosse League.
Let’s go one on one…
GG – How did you get started in box lacrosse?
HA – I’ve been interested in the box game since high school. I was impressed and intrigued by players like Mark Cockerton, Cam Flint, Jeremy Noble, Kevin Crowley – how they held their sticks, set up their dodges, executed offensive sets, etc. It wasn’t until 2017, though, when I moved to Philly for graduate school at Drexel University that I got a chance to step into a box game for the first time. I played for the Reapers of the Philadelphia Box Lacrosse Association (PBLA).
GG – Where did you play your College ball?
HA – I played at Arizona State University.
GG – How did the coaching staff help you develop your game?
HA – The coaching staff, namely Chris Malone, helped to expose me to a high level of competition in practices and games that required a deep sense of discipline and self-motivation. They also helped me understand that playing time is rewarded to the smartest-working player, not the hardest-working player.
GG – You have been honing your craft for some time now…
Talk about your days playing in Philadelphia and playing Tournaments.
HA – I enjoyed playing in the PBLA, as well as participating in the American tournament circuit. I’ve met many great guys that share my passion for the game. The tourney circuit requires players to sacrifice their free time and travel great distances to showcase their skills, which often results in intensely fought bouts amongst weekend warriors. I knew, though, that if I wanted to improve quickly, I needed to travel north of the border and work with a program of true box players and coaches.
GG – You’ve been in Canada for the past couple of years playing in the Ontario Senior B league. How have you developed playing for Kitchener?
HA – I enjoyed playing with Kitchener’s Senior B program. The players and coaching staff were extremely welcoming and quick to lend a word of advice as I transitioned into more authentic box lacrosse play. I gained confidence quickly on the floor as the coaching staff gave me the opportunity to make mistakes without fear of being sent back to the states. They sensed my passion for the game and dedication to improve, and as a result, we developed a strong and lasting relationship.
GG – Will you be at the Major Series Lacrosse level soon?
HA – I will be living in Vancouver this summer, rather than Ontario, and I am hoping to make the jump to the Senior A ranks within the Western Lacrosse Association.
GG – Playing for the Oshawa Outlaws of the Arena Lacrosse League, how good is the league to get you to the next rung on your ladder of success and achievement?
HA – I joined the Arena Lacrosse League this year with the intention of helping me to transition from Senior B to Senior A. While I wasn’t able to earn as much offensive playing time this season as I was hoping, I was glad to have been exposed to a higher level of competition. Players are sharp, aggressive and competitive – hungry and poised for the call up to the pros. I did my best to keep an open mind and watch/listen to skilled teammates and opponents. This season I’ve learned a great deal about the defensive side of the box game (body positioning, defending the two-man game, slide packages, etc.), which I am hoping to utilize to improve my offensive skillset this summer.
GG – Are there many differences in the box game in the U.S. and Canada?
HA – US Box is a battle of athleticism, Canadian Box is a battle of skill. US players need to shed the ego we develop from years of executing 1-v-1 dodges in order to slow down, share the rock and pick apart the defense using a honed and patient mental edge. US players also need to understand that the physicality of the box game is not simply a matter of cross-checking to cross-check. Solid Canadian offensive and defensive players develop their physical skills and lacrosse IQ in tandem, as a result of vying for a small amount of space within a walled playing surface. Hard, bruising physical contact is unavoidable in true box, but it can be legally used to a player’s advantage if he can develop tough skin and an even tougher mind.
The native game, though, is my favorite style of box. These players possess the athleticism of US players, the skills of Canadian players and a deeply-rooted appreciation for the game unmatched by any demographic of lacrosse player. Their sticks are sharp, but loose, their feet are fast and fleeting, and they are almost always smiling because they understand that playing hard and respecting the game trumps winning or losing any day.
GG – What do you do for a living outside of lacrosse?
HA – Outside of lacrosse, I work as a baker – making breads and pastries. I studied engineering in school, but once I was exposed to the joy of creating something nourishing from scratch and sharing it with an appreciative guest, I knew that I would never return to that technical discipline.
GG – Your family has a foundation…The Alex Archie Foundation…
What is it? and What does it do?
HA – The Alex Archie Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. It began in 2007, following the suicide of my oldest brother, Alex. The Foundation helps to provide scholarships and donations to student-athletes and programs at large that embody Alex’s most admirable qualities: discipline, dedication, ambition and humility. The Foundation also promotes mental health awareness in hopes of eliminating the negative stigmas associated with depression, anxiety, personality disorders and many other commonly possessed, yet rarely discussed illnesses. Most recently, we have worked with multiple schools (secondary and university level) to sponsor speakers from Active Minds, “the nation’s premier nonprofit organization supporting mental health awareness and education for young adults” (Active Minds, 2020).
I want to thank Henry for taking the time to talk with us, and wish him the best of luck, and success on his journies in and out of lacrosse.