5 Takeaways From Greg Gurenlian's Appearance on Overtime

Greg Gurenlian, one of the most influential players in the history of the game, joined Paul Carcaterra for Season 3, Episode 2 of US Lacrosse Magazine’s Overtime podcast. They covered plenty of topics in the hour-long interview, including his background with the game, his answer to haters and the future of the faceoff.

Still considering whether to tune in? Here are five takeaways from a compelling conversation. Listen now.



Lars Tiffany recruited him to Penn State
Time stamp: 11:09

Greg Gurenlian was born in Springfield Township, Pa., in 1984. At the time, it was hard for a Pennsylvania native to avoid the football juggernaut of Penn State. Unsurprisingly, Gurenlian became a Nittany Lions fanatic at an early age. So when it came time for the Springfield High School product to pursue college lacrosse, he had one school in mind. 

“Yeah, I made it look like I was going on recruiting visits, but I was a Penn Stater,” he told Carcaterra. “I could tell you every quarterback that played for Penn State since 1990.”

That recruitment process was led by an assistant under Glenn Thiel. His name was Lars Tiffany — who would eventually take the helm at Stony Brook, then Brown and win a national title with Virginia.

After Tiffany left Penn State, Thiel hired Guy Van Arsdale, who gave Gurenlian the “keys” to take the faceoff how he saw fit. The instruction gave him the freedom to become one of the best faceoff men in the nation.

The Taysom Hill analogy
Time Stamp: 16:40

If you had asked Greg Gurenlian what position he played in college, he would have said midfield. He honed his skills in the midfield, but his value came on the faceoff dot. Gurenlian used New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill as an example of a player that isn’t specialized to a position but can be used in a variety of situations when needed. 

“What position is he?” Gurenlian asked. “Next year, [Saints head coach Sean] Payton decides to put him at just a slot receiver, and he gets 1,000 yards receiving and goes to the Pro Bowl. And he goes, ‘Now I’m specializing as a receiver.’ Is that better or worse?”

Gurenlian’s point is that most faceoff men aren’t there because they couldn’t play midfield, but that they were one of few to possess the skills to win faceoffs.

He developed the Faceoff Academy system while recovering from ACL surgery
Time Stamp: 21:30

By 2011, Greg Gurenlian seemed destined to be a premier faceoff man in Major League Lacrosse. But just two games in, he blew his knee out. With his leg propped up, watching Lizards games at home, Gurenlian made a realization. 

“I was sitting and watching the Lizards game, and I’m breaking down the faceoff thing,” he said. “I remember saying, I really didn’t give enough care to this talent that I have. I played it on the weekends, but I really wanted to be great at it. I wrote the Faceoff Academy System on the couch, with my leg up, that summer.”

Using his degree in biomechanics and his background in facing off, Gurenlian created the Faceoff Academy.

How to fix the faceoff to make everyone happy
Time Stamp: 43:20

The future of the faceoff is in the draw circle? The concept of adjusting the faceoff has been a continuing discussion, but Gurenlian has offered an intriguing solution. On the podcast, Gurenlian told Carcaterra about incorporating a circle around the faceoff, 20 yards in diameter. He hopes that the circle will lesson the effect of a dominant clamper.

US Lacrosse Magazine wrote about the new faceoff concept last month. You can read that story here.

Vitriol toward the “trolls”
Time Stamp: 54:30

As much as social media was used to drive the sport of lacrosse forward, it also turned negative when “trolls” came after Gurenlian and his career. Sometimes, that negativity centered around Gurenlian’s training regimen. 

“Any time someone looks really good, people automatically think, ‘What has he or she done? What does he or she take?’” Carcaterra said to Gurenlian.

The Beast is done answering the Twitter trolls.  

“The pattern is always the same,” he said. “The guy who smokes a cigarette and drinks every week is the one who tells me that I have to be on steroids to look good. Meanwhile, I’m playing superheroes with my kid in the living room. If you think I’m on steroids while I’m sitting there on a Friday night, dog, you need that.”

The comments on social media were especially hurtful when it came to the status of the faceoff. The chatter about getting rid of the faceoff has certainly affected Gurenlian.

“I chose to do this one thing in my life, and every day, I have to tell people, even those close to me, why I should exist,” he said.

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