Dave Cottle Talks Paul Rabil, Future Success of the Premier Lacrosse League


Dave Cottle won four championships with the Bayhawks — two as a coach and two as a general manager.

Dave Cottle’s coaching career overlapped with the launch of Major League lacrosse in 2002. Cottle, the former Salisbury All-American and coach at Maryland, watched as some of the greatest players in the sport ushered in a new era.

Eight years later, he joined the Chesapeake Bayhawks as a consultant under owner Brendan Kelly. Eventually, he worked his way to becoming the head coach for the Bayhawks, leading them to MLL championships in 2012 and 2013. He added two more Stenfield Trophies in 2014 and 2017 as general manger.

Cottle has seen the professional lacrosse landscape change over the course of the past 20 years, but never more so than when the Premier Lacrosse League merged with Major League Lacrosse this offseason. The move left many questions for the future of the sport and left many wondering what direction the game would trend.

The MLL legend sat down with Paul Carcaterra on Season 4, Episode 13 of the “Overtime” podcast to share his thoughts on the future of professional lacrosse, which he believes in a bright one.

“The PLL is nothing more than the MLL in 2002-10 — everyone played in one league,” he told Carcaterra. “I think Paul Rabil’s ability to market a vision — the TV package they have, all that, is light years ahead of what the MLL did. None of it matters if you don’t get fans to the game. That is the biggest challenge that any pro league will have.”

The Bayhawks drew 12,000 fans in their final home game back in 2019 before ceasing operations after the merger. He said many of the fans at that game were new to lacrosse, a key to the sport’s growth.

“We have to market it better and get non-lacrosse fans interested in lacrosse,” he said. “Look at hockey. They are selling out, but there’s probably 80 percent of the people at the hockey games that have never skated before. The speed of the game and the size of the players, all that is headed in the right direction.”

Cottle was complimentary of the job Rabil, PLL co-founder and former MLL player, has done with the PLL. The league launched late in 2018 and has since seen exponential growth on social media.

The league has also announced a partnership with DraftKings, which will allow fans to bet on professional lacrosse for the first time.

“If you have gambling lines on lacrosse, it matters to people,” Cottle said. “Them setting up a deal with, whether it was DraftKings or whoever they set it up with. There’s another interesting concept.”

Ultimately, Cottle is rooting for the success of the PLL, and for professional men’s lacrosse, in general. With Rabil at the helm, Cottle believes the sport is in good hands.

“With Paul in charge of this league, I believe that this will be the best opportunity that lacrosse has to establish itself as a professional sport,” he said. “They have the best chance of any league to get it done, and hopefully it will work out for all of us.”

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