USA Lacrosse Names Coaches for The World Games

Bobby Benson, Amanda O'Leary, Andy Shay and Regy Thorpe named to men's and women's coaching staffs.

SPARKS, Md. — USA Lacrosse has named the coaching staffs for the U.S. teams that will compete in The World Games 2022 this summer in Birmingham, Ala. The World Games is an Olympic-style, multisport event that will feature men’s and women’s lacrosse using the new Sixes discipline developed by World Lacrosse.

Coaching the U.S. men will be Bobby Benson and Andy Shay. The U.S. women will be coached by Amanda O’Leary and Regy Thorpe. The World Games take place from July 7-17 with the men’s lacrosse competition running from July 8-12 and the women’s competition held from July 12-16. 

Earlier in the summer, USA Lacrosse will host the World Lacrosse Women’s World Championship, using the traditional full-field version of the game, from June 29 to July 9 at Towson University.

All four coaches named to The World Games coaching staffs were involved with training opportunities last year as USA Lacrosse explored the Sixes discipline. The U.S. held a training camp at USA Lacrosse headquarters with a public exhibition at the USA Lacrosse Youth Nationals in Frederica, Del., in July, participated at the Lake Placid Summit Classic in August and then competed against Canada and Haudenosaunee during the Super Sixes event in October.

Sixes is a fast-paced version of the sport played on a smaller field (70 x 36 meters), with fewer players (6-v-6), a condensed game length (four 8-minute quarters) and a 30-second shot clock.

The Sixes discipline was formally announced in May 2021 by World Lacrosse, the next step in a process that began in 2018. World Lacrosse appointed a working group to develop a version of the sport that would complement the existing box and field versions of the sport that would meet the following five objectives:

  • Support and encourage the continued growth of lacrosse worldwide

  • Provide greater access to lacrosse by eliminating barriers to entry (e.g., cost, team size, field size)

  • Appeal to the next generation of sport participants and fans with a discipline that features tempo, speed, scoring and less specialization

  • Over time, create greater competitive balance internationally by bringing more nations within reach of the podium at major international events

  • And, fit within the 21st Century Olympic framework, where the International Olympic Committee and Host Cities are working to reduce the cost and complexity of staging the Olympic Games.

Since the launch, World Lacrosse has sponsored Sixes competition around the globe over the last year. The World Games will be the first major international championship utilizing the discipline.

“We look forward with great anticipation to The World Games competition,” said Skip Lichtfuss, director of national teams and high performance for USA Lacrosse. “The process to this point has been a unique adventure with players and staff alike fully immersed and committed to its success. We’re learning together each time we get to train and promise to deliver a fast-paced, high-scoring and exciting product on the field.”

Benson is currently the assistant men’s lacrosse coach and offensive coordinator at the University of Maryland and helped the Terps reach the national championship game last season. A member of the gold-medal winning 2002 U.S. men’s senior team, he previously spent 14 years as the offensive coordinator at Johns Hopkins University and helped the Blue Jays win the 2007 NCAA title. Benson was a three-time All-American as a player at Hopkins.

“Sixes lacrosse is exciting and a ton of fun to play,” Benson said. “I thoroughly enjoyed our first adventure with the sport this past year. I look forward to continuing to work with USA Lacrosse and our great athletes to develop a winning Sixes program.”

Shay is the head men’s lacrosse coach at Yale University and led the Bulldogs to their first NCAA championship in 2018. The national coach of the year that season, he has led Yale to seven NCAA tournament appearances, including another trip to the NCAA title game in 2019. The defensive coordinator at Massachusetts before taking the job at Yale, Shay was a two-year captain and four-year starter on defense at LeMoyne College as a player.

“It is a tremendous honor to work with this team and wear the red, white, and blue,” Shay said. “I think the Sixes discipline is a pure form of this game, and I couldn’t be more excited to be help introduce USA lacrosse’s version of it.”

O’Leary is the head women’s lacrosse coach at the University of Florida where she has built a powerhouse program from scratch. In her first 12 years at Florida, O’Leary has led the Gators to 10 NCAA tournament berths, six quarterfinal trips and one semifinal appearance. Previously the head coach at Yale for 14 years, O’Leary has won over 350 games in her career. A National Lacrosse Hall of Fame inductee, O’Leary was an All-American in both field hockey and lacrosse at Temple and led the Owls to the 1988 NCAA lacrosse championship. She went on to the national team, helping the U.S. win gold at the 1989 and the 1993 world championships and later coached with the U.S. developmental team.

“I am incredibly honored and excited to be named to the coaching staff for the USA Lacrosse women’s Sixes team,” O’Leary said. “I have enjoyed a wonderful journey with USA Lacrosse as a player and now I get to continue to coach. I am indebted to USA Lacrosse for giving me this prestigious opportunity to go for gold!”

Thorpe is in his first year as an assistant coach at the University of Florida. He has been involved in all different levels of the sport, including serving as head coach of the U.S. men’s box team that won a bronze medal at the 2019 world championship. In women’s lacrosse, Thorpe helped build Pitt’s inaugural team before taking the Florida job and he previously spent 10 seasons as the associate head coach at Syracuse, helping the Orange reach nine NCAA tournaments, six semifinals and two championship games. He also led the Long Island Sound to the 2017 United Women’s Lacrosse League championship. As a player, Thorpe won a NCAA title at Syracuse and played in both the MLL and NLL, helping the Rochester Knighthawks win two NLL championships.

“It’s an exciting time to be involved in the Sixes process and an honor to be part of the staff with a legendary player/coach in Coach Mandee,” Thorpe said. “I look forward to the challenge of helping us put together the best team that can win gold this July in Birmingham. We have a great young player pool that is hungry and eager to reach the expectations and standards that USA Lacrosse teams of the past have set. The expectations are high,¬ and the players and staff will be up for the challenge.”

The World Games, which dates to 1982, is anticipated to feature 3,600 elite athletes from over 100 countries competing for gold in more than 30 of the fastest-growing sports in the world. Lacrosse made its debut at The World Games in 2017, with the U.S. women defeating Canada in the gold medal match in Poland. This is the first time that men’s lacrosse will be included in the program.

The men’s field will include Australia, Canada, Haudenosaunee Nationals, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Japan and the United States.

The women’s field will be comprised of Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Haudenosaunee Nationals, Great Britain, Israel, Japan and the United States.

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