Coach Ladouceur drawing up plays for the offense in training camp. Photo Credit: Zach Fletcher
Dan Ladouceur, 43, joined the Georgia Swarm over the summer as its newest assistant coach, replacing former assistant coach Blane Harrison who retired from the NLL. With 11 seasons as a defenseman and four seasons as an assistant coach with the Toronto Rock, Ladouceur brings a plethora of lacrosse knowledge to this young Swarm team. Ladouceur was part of five championship teams during his time as a player and helped coach the Rock to the Champion’s Cup Finals during the 2015 season. Ladouceur recently took some time out of his busy schedule as a coach and constable for the Durham Regional Police Service to talk with us about the 2017 season and coaching the Swarm’s offense.
Q: How’s training camp going so far?
A: It’s going well. Those two preseason games, not the result we wanted, but as far as the offensive players go, seeing their timing, spacing, and intensity level improve with every session, I think it’s good. Marginal gains towards where we need to be at the start of the season, building towards the end.
Q: Is there anyone or anything that’s really been impressing you so far on the team?
A: Before I got to the team, I knew this group cause I had to draw up defenses against them, and I knew that they were creative and unselfish. But the way they communicate and the level that they play together and want to get each other open for scoring opportunities, I didn’t expect this level of unselfishness and creativity. It’s pretty interesting to watch and be a part of.
Q: You spent 15 years with the Toronto Rock as a player and a coach. How was your time with the organization?
A: It was good. They’re great – first class organization. As a player, I was part of five championships in 10 years, and on the coaching side of it, we made it to the finals there in 2015. Successful organization, run very well by Jamie Dawick (owner of the Toronto Rock). They’re one of the trendsetters in the league as far as how they treat their players, how they treat their fans, and the product they put on the floor. I was proud to be a part of that organization.
Q: Switching over to your other job, what drew you to be a constable with the Durham Regional Police Service?
A: I like the idea of having a career where there are all kinds of different avenues you can pursue. A lot of different options whether you want to get into investigative or tactics or traffic, there are all kinds of different ways you can go. I was young when I decided to do it … There were lots of options, and it gave me the ability to give back a little bit and help out in the community I was raised, which was also attractive to me. It was really a no-brainer for me.
Q: How do you find the time to balance that with lacrosse and everything else in your life?
A: You have a really supportive family network, for sure. You’re away a lot of weekends, and as much as my wife and daughter love it, it’s a bit of a grind for them, too, me always being away. But it’s the lifestyle of this entire league. For me, that’s the balance, strong support network at home with family as well as at work. My teammates here at work are awesome. They love being involved and hearing about weekend games and stuff and have no problem covering you. Without their support, you couldn’t do it. I’m lucky to have them.
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Q: What convinced you to become the new assistant coach for the Swarm?
A: To be honest with you, it’s two things: working with Eddie (Comeau) and Sean (Ferris) and the potential for this group of players. Having watched them and coached against them in the pro and junior leagues – I coached junior against Randy Staas and Johnny Powless on the way up and watched them play, saw how they beat and just picked us apart – having the chance to work with them was very attractive. Working with Eddie, who has one of the best lacrosse minds in the game, his laid-back approach and open communication, wasn’t necessarily something I was entirely used to. I really wanted to explore that and learn from Eddie, to develop myself and have the best experience in coaching I could have.
Q: What are you specifically bringing to the Swarm or trying to implement with them?
A: I was never an offensive player, and it’s funny cause people are asking, “You’re doing the O?” But this offensive group doesn’t need to be told how to put the ball in the net. They’re all natural scorers, and they want to help each other score. For me, it’s just helping them identify trends on defense, identify how they’re being defended against, and keep Eddie’s Swarm principles in mind and in check. A little bit of experience in championship games and seasons helps to get over those types of adversity both on and off the floor, when teams go on runs or you’re suffering some injuries or you’re having some trouble getting some momentum. I have some experience to draw on and hope I can bring that to the game … There’s all the intangibles, and I’m hoping to be a big part of that.
Q: You have a ton of playoff experience both as a player and a coach. I know the Swarm is hungry to get back there after getting that taste of the postseason last year. Is there anything you’re telling them in regards to the postseason?
A: I talked to a lot of guys preseason, and yeah, they’re hungry. They want to go back and they want a shot at the championship. Guys are left feeling this is our year, and that’s great. You have to have that mindset, but in that is the process. In that is the stuff that people don’t see: the work away from the floor, the film work, the attention to detail. I’m just trying to validate their hunger for a championship appearance by insisting that the process is met and we create habits that are season-long – career-long hopefully – the process to get to championships.
Q: The Swarm has lost two close matchups this preseason, the most recent loss this past weekend against the Rochester Knighthawks 17-15. Are there any concerns, anything you’re working on this upcoming week?
A: There are no real concerns. Obviously, we let the team get on a run on us in the first half in that Rochester game, and that’s something we identified early in our talks as coaches that we have to have answers for. A lot of that is us telling players about game awareness, and then some of it is them identifying and implementing stuff. We (the coaches) can’t be on the floor and do certain things to stop momentum; they (the players) have to. We can help them identify it; they have to practice and execute it. So not an area of concern, but definitely an area of focus for us that we identified early and we know is still there, so it’s a work in progress.
Q: The first game of the 2017 season is against the Saskatchewan Rush, two-time defending champions, here at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at the Infinite Energy Arena. Looking forward to it?
A: Really looking forward to it. What better way to test yourself than to have the champs come into your town? They have a different look this year. They’ve made some player/personnel changes, and so have we due to injuries and a couple of other things. I’m interested to see how this one is going to play out. I know our prep for this game has already started, and I know Derek Keenan (GM and head coach for the Rush) and his prep has started as well. As coaches, we’re going to prepare and be excited, but we don’t get to go on the field and execute … I’m excited to see how our guys execute.
Q: The Swarm will be playing away against the Toronto Rock on February 17th. Any thoughts regarding facing them for the first time ever in your career?
A: Yeah, it’s weird. The date is on my calendar. I talk about process and have to live what I talk about, but that date is definitely on the calendar. I’ve never stepped foot on the visitor’s bench, stepped foot in the visitor’s dressing room. That’ll be a different environment for me for sure, but the job will stay the same, and the focus will be the same. It’s definitely a date that’s in my mind.
Georgia opens the season at home against the two-time defending champion Saskatchewan Rush on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 7:05 p.m. ET from Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena. Fans can purchase Single-Game Tickets for all nine home games at GeorgiaSwarm.com/SingleGame.
The Swarm is currently offering a special Home Opener Ticket & T-Shirt Package for only $99! Fans will receive (3) Lower-Level Sideline Tickets and (3) Swarm T-Shirts (a 4th Ticket and T-Shirt can be added to the package for only $20!). Call 844-4-GASWARM for purchasing info!