Getting To Know Forrest MacConnell Xcelerate Lacrosse Camp Director

Forrest MacConnell has a wealth of experience having been a collegiate player at Lees-McRae College, and he enters his second season as the head coach of the Young Harris men's lacrosse program. 

Coach MacConnell will be directing our Blue Ridge Mountain Adventure Lacrosse Camp at Young Harris College this summer, July 21-25.

How many years have you been coaching lacrosse?
I actually started coaching lacrosse when I was a Freshmen in college. I'd work camps and tournaments all over the place and always coached a club team during the summer. After college, I spent a year at D-III Bethany College up in WV, two years working with Cary Academy's Varsity and Middle School Teams, and am now going on my fifth year up at Young Harris College. I spent the first 3 years as an assistant, last year I was named Interim-Head Coach, and this is my first year as a college head coach. I have been working with Xcelerate since I was in college and them putting myself in a leadership position had to only help with getting to where I'm at now. 

What is your favorite camp drill/activity?
I love any drill or activity that has some competition to it and can be played as a game. Anything from West Genny, 4v4 Box Lacrosse, Goalie Wars, and of course scrimmaging. I put a lot of focus into making lacrosse an enjoyable time for the boys with all sorts of fun games that also help to improve their skills and knowledge of the game. Pizza time every evening is a very close second, nothing like a fourth meal!

What do you find most rewarding about being a coach?
Being a college coach, the most rewarding thing to me is the relationships that I'm able to have with all of my players and being able to watch them grow up and mature over their 4 years. Whether kids have played for me for a year or four years, that was time that was invested into our program where we shared the same goals and spent some great times together. A big goal of mine when I started coaching was that I really wanted to recruit a class and see them graduate four years later. It's an unbelievable feeling to sit down with those four-year seniors and reflect back on the beginning of their college career to the end.

What is one of your favorite memories of being a coach?
My favorite memory is really a culmination of all the memories from the past five years while coaching at Young Harris College. When I started out coaching at Young Harris as an assistant back in the fall of 2013, we were going into our second year as a program and our campus was full of new construction and renovations. I've been able to not only see this program grow and develop over these past five years but also all the individual players and the campus as a whole. My wife moved up here with me a couple of years ago and we always enjoy having groups of players or the whole team over for a meal. 

What is your most memorable experience playing the sport?
My most memorable experience playing the sport would be my four years spent playing at Lees-McRae College. I met some of my life-long best friends and we spent so much time together on and off the field creating memories. We didn't win a lot of games, but we did grow up and figure out what we all wanted to do in life. 

What is your favorite sport outside of lacrosse and how do you think knowledge/skills in that sport translate to lacrosse?
Outside of lacrosse, I'd have to say my favorite sport is basketball. I lived with our Men's basketball Assistant Coach for a couple of years and would go to a lot of their games. It's crazy how similar the two sports are when it comes to X's and O's and offensive and defensive concepts. Defensive zones, 2-man game, off-ball screens, pick-and-roll's, isolation plays, off-ball movement, initiating the offense, etc. are all concepts that are used and seen in both lacrosse and basketball. Some days instead of conditioning my team, we will change it up and go hoop it up in the gym. It's always a great team builder and they get a good competitive work-out in.

What do you believe are the most important characteristics of improvement?
I think mental toughness, a strong worth ethic, a positive attitude, and being coachable are all the most important characteristics of improvement. Without these characteristics, I believe it's very hard for someone to reach their true potential. Good effort and a positive attitude are two things I remind my players of throughout the year and it's what I ask for at all practices.    

What do you think is the most under-appreciated skill/ability in the sport of lacrosse?
Goalies.. Even if they are appreciated, I don't think someone that is attempting to step in front of a fast moving object for the betterment of the team can ever be appreciated enough. With the little amount that they wear for protection and for them to have to almost alter the way their brain thinks to want to step towards the fast moving ball, it's an absolutely insane position. It's also one of the most important positions on the field. This isn't to mention that a lot of drills during practices are un-even situations causing the goalie to be even more at a disadvantage.. Respect!

What is your go-to Nike apparel/equipment?
Nike CEO Head, Nike Vandal Handel, All Dry-fit shirts/shorts and of course some dry-fit socks. 

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