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Annapolis native Josh Sims assumes pivotal role with PLL

When Josh Sims initially heard about the Premier Lacrosse League, he contemplated a comeback.

The Annapolis native played professional lacrosse both indoors and outdoors up until 2012 when he retired following a second stint with the Denver Outlaws of Major league Lacrosse.

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Sims has been inducted into both the Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame and the Chesapeake Chapter of US Lacrosse Hall of Fame since then. However, the Severn School graduate remains in tip-top shape at the age of 40 and looks like he could still get up and down the lacrosse field.

“My brain would say yes, but my body would certainly disagree,” Sims said when asked if he thought he could play in the Premier Lacrosse League.

It turns out Sims is involved with the PLL in an even more significant way, serving as the inaugural Head of Lacrosse – an all-encompassing position that involves almost every aspect of the operation.

“When we looked at the Head of Lacrosse role we wanted to source a candidate that had dynamic business development experience, but also had clout in the lacrosse industry. There were minimal people that fit that description and Josh was at the top of the list,” said Paul Rabil, founder of the Premier Lacrosse League along with his brother Mike.

Sims is responsible for overseeing the head coaches-general managers for all six PLL teams, serving as a liaison to the players, scheduling and monitoring the officials, managing the medical staff as well as ordering and distributing equipment.

“It’s been one of the most challenging jobs I’ve had in terms of being involved with a start-up and having to be adaptable while learning on the fly,” Sims said.

Sims spent several years as a lacrosse specialist for Under Armour and feels that position prepared him well for this one. He was very involved with running the Under Armour All-American games along with other major events.

“What I did with Under Armour provided a good foundation for what I’m doing now,” he said. “In terms of organization and logistics, there is a lot of common ground there.”

Audi Field in Washington, D.C. is hosting the fifth weekend of Premier Lacrosse League play with a total of three games on Saturday and Sunday. Sims has massive responsibility for making sure the league’s touring model comes together as planned.

Sims is charged with booking enough hotel rooms for 120 players and securing practice facilities. Truck loads of equipment must be moved from city to city as the league is responsible for shipping the helmets, sticks and pads used by all players. Buses must be arranged to transport the six teams to practices and the host stadium.

“Now that we’re in season, it’s a matter of getting the entire league structure from one venue to the next in the span of a week,” Sims said. “There’s an awful lot that goes into making sure we’re putting a quality product on the field.”

Getting the Premier Lacrosse League up and running was a monumental effort with Sims involved with creating a rulebook, hiring medical staff and scheduling officials among many other tasks.

“We had considerable work to do leading up to Week 1,” Sims admitted.

Sims also played a role in brokering agreements and partnerships with various supporters and sponsors. Adidas provides the uniforms for the PLL while Maverick, Cascade, STX, Wolf Athletics and East Coast Dyes all provide various equipment.

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“Some of our players are sponsored and others are not. We are really focused on giving the players the freedom to wear and use what they want,” Sims said.

PLL has a rules handbook that provides certain behavior guidelines by which players must abide. Sims formed a safety committee to review various issues and there are times when certain players must be scolded or disciplined.

“One thing we are most concerned with is player safety. We’re playing a fast-paced game and guys are really getting after it. Action on the field has become very intense at times,” Sims said. “We’ve had to address a few situations and issues. We’re just trying to maintain a level of consistency in terms of player safety.”

Rabil, who also plays for the Atlas team in addition to being co-founder of the Premier Lacrosse League, has been pleased with the performance of Sims so far.

“I think Josh is doing a great job. Everyone within our organization is wearing multiple hats and Josh has shown the ability to handle a wide range of responsibilities,” said Rabil, a former Johns Hopkins All-American.

“Our leadership team needs to have supreme work ethic and a level of resiliency to be working in professional lacrosse, and Josh possesses both. He knows how to think critically and to strategize while operating in a fast, efficient and motivated manner,” Rabil added.

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