BY ANGELA BARBUTI
It was at summer camp that Max Seibald was first introduced to lacrosse so it’s only fitting that he returns to that setting to get children to appreciate the game the way he does.
The midfielder for the Boston Cannons has been running his own lacrosse camps since he graduated from Cornell University in 2009. This summer, he partnered with Gold Coast Academy to help start a sports series at its camps in New York and New Jersey. As their lacrosse expert, Seibald built curriculum, assisted in selecting coaches and created a daily video message shown to all campers, who range in age from six to 15.
When he is not playing or coaching, he is working towards a business degree at New York University and volunteering on the board of CityLax, a nonprofit that provides lacrosse programming in high schools throughout the five boroughs.
The Long Island native, who has been playing professional lacrosse for eight summers, has been on fields all over the country, but always returns to his home in Manhattan. “With all my travel, I get to escape to other parts of the country almost on a weekly basis, especially in the summer,” he explained. “It’s nice to get away, but also nice to live in the best city in the world.”
How did you get started playing lacrosse? I started at sleepaway camp in 1994. I was 6 years old turning 7. I went to Camp Starlight, an all-sports camp with a boys’ side and girls’ side. I was introduced to lacrosse that summer and kind of fell in love with it then and have been playing it ever since.
You played at Cornell. How did you balance school with sports?Sports has always been a part of my life and given me structure. So it wasn’t much different than being at Cornell doing the same thing. The only difference being that you have a little bit more free time on your hands when you’re on your own in college. But for me, between practice and training and weightlifting, it gave me a schedule which allowed me that structure and time you had to get work done. And I’m an organized person, so at the beginning of each semester, I laid everything out so I knew what I had to get done and when. The school and team also provided support which helped me ease my transition into college. It was not too much of a challenge to keep the workload on point. Obviously it’s a very good school. Time management is key and that was one of the skills I had learned before going away, so it wasn’t too tough.
Tell us about your pro career.This is my eighth summer playing pro. I was drafted and played for the Denver Outlaws for three years. I got traded to New York and played for the New York Lizards for three years. And I’m currently on the Boston Cannons and this is my second season with them. I played professionally indoor as well for the Philadelphia Wings from 2010 to 2013. I played for the Team USA outdoor team in 2010. In 2011, for the Team USA indoor team. And then again in 2014 for the Team USA outdoor team.
You are based in New York. Why do you think you always come back to the city?I’ve always been based in New York. I grew up in Hewlett, Long Island, and have been living in Manhattan since I graduated from Cornell. I have a lot of things based here. First of all, my family. I have two older sisters and now two nephews and a niece, all on the Upper East Side. My parents still live in Hewlett, so I’m close by there. I run a couple of business based out of New York. One is a lacrosse club team called LC New York, which are travel club teams based out of New York City. I run a couple of other training programs in New York City and Long Island in the off season. And I’m also currently in business school at NYU, so that’s another reason I’m in New York right now. And a majority of my friends from high school and college all reside in or around the Tri-State area.
What skills do you think you need to be a good coach?I look at it as almost a teacher. You have to have extreme patience, obviously, for all different levels of kids. I think you have to understand whatever it is that you’re doing on a very fundamental level and be able to translate that to whoever you’re teaching or coaching in very basic terms. The beauty about lacrosse is that to be good at it, you have to really master the fundamentals. Keeping it simple and fun at the same time to try to keep the kids’ attention. And again, drilling the fundamentals and making it a competitive, but encouraging environment. I’ve played for a lot of different coaches and coached a lot of different groups in many different areas of the country. One thing I ask of the campers that I have to do myself is to be able to adapt, because kids in Long Island are a lot different than New York City which are a lot different than Texas and they all are exposed to different things.
You’re on the board of CityLax. Explain the organization.It’s a not-for-profit, a public-private partnership based out of New York City that supports public schools in the five boroughs to play throughout the year. Because the state doesn’t fund the programs in the high schools, someone has to. We raise money to support the teams at the high school level. There’s over 40 high school boys’ and girls’ teams and they fund the coaches, equipment, field, travel, transportation and anything that they need. And because at the high school level, it’s a little late for some people to start, we’re starting to transition to middle school, so the kids can start younger.
What are your future plans?I always plan to have some involvement in coaching and spreading the game. I’ve been doing it as a business now and have also been very active with CityLax. My playing career, I don’t know how much longer it will last. Having been playing for eight years, I’m definitely at the tail end of my career. So I think I have a couple more years left with that. I have another year or so of business school. Once that’s done, I’ll be entertaining other options full time outside of lacrosse, but I’ll always have that outlet to give back to the game that’s give me so much.