By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
If there was any doubt that Washington Stealth head coach Chris Hall is healthy after his battle with throat cancer, one look at him parasailing in Maui is worth about 1,000 words. Hall and his players begin training camp for the Stealth’s full roster this Saturday looking to rebound from a season riddled with injury and Hall’s illness that saw the Stealth go 4-12, the National Lacrosse League’s worst record.
The Stealth held a tryout camp last weekend and signed five players to attend the official training camp. Washington has invited 40 players to camp, but will have to cut down its roster to just 23 and three practice squad players by Dec. 20.
Saturday’s first training camp session will be held at Soccer First Indoor Sports in Arlington. The team will hold two separate practices, the first beginning at 9:30 a.m. and the second at 6:30 p.m. Camp continues on Sunday at Comcast Arena with another 9:30 a.m. session. All three practices this weekend are open to the public free of charge.
For the coaching staff led by head coach Chris Hall they will use the upcoming weeks to evaluate talent and attempt to mold a team that is as successful as the franchise’s first two years in
Everett where they appeared in the NLL’s Champions Cup both years, winning the championship in 2010.
“In a nine-team league, it’s so competitive,” Hall said. “We’re living proof that there’s not much difference between from first and worst. It’s much like the NFL. A couple of things can go wrong. You get hit with a lightning bolt and take two steps backwards. Or, once you get to the playoffs, in one-game elimination, anyone can win.”
Last season, it was the lightning bolt that struck the Stealth. The team was riddled by injuries, but it wasn’t just the health of the players that was the issue. Hall missed half the season after being diagnosed with throat cancer and by the time he returned to the sideline the team had dug itself a hole it couldn’t climb out of.
Things could be much different this season, Hall said the team is healthy and he has been given a clean bill-of-health by his doctors.
The outlook for the Stealth is far less uncertain entering the 2013 season than it was a year ago.
“It’s let’s start working on it right now and get back to where we belong,” Hall said.
The Stealth continue training camp on Dec. 8 and 9 with sessions at the Langley Events Centre in Langley, B.C., Dec. 15 and 16 in Everett at Comcast Arena and the final weekend of training camp practices takes place Dec. 29 and 30, also at Comcast Arena.
The Stealth open the regular season on Saturday, Jan. 5 at home against the defending NLL Champion Rochester Knighthawks.