Stealth look to go from ‘worst’ to first in NLL

EVERETT — The Washington Stealth are ready for rebirth.

After a difficult 2012 National Lacrosse League season that saw them finish with the league’s worst record (4-12), the Stealth are focused on better days ahead as training camp begins Saturday for the full roster.

The team 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 pare 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.

The coaching staff, led by head coach Chris Hall, will use the upcoming weeks to evaluate talent and attempt to mold the team into one as successful as the franchise’s first two years in Everett. The Stealth appeared in the NLL’s Champions Cup both those 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 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, health was the lightning bolt that struck down the Stealth. The team was riddled by player injuries and Hall missed half the season after being diagnosed with throat cancer. By the time Hall returned, the team had dug itself into too deep a hole and couldn’t climb out.

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 Dec. 8-9 at the Langley Events Centre in Langley, B.C., Dec. 15-16 in Everett at Comcast Arena, and the camp’s final weekend is Dec. 29-30, also at Comcast Arena.

The Stealth open the regular season on Saturday, Jan. 5, at home against the defending NLL Champion Rochester Knighthawks.

Aaron Lommers covers the Washington Stealth for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at alommers@heraldnet.com.

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