Brett Dobson, Ryan Ambler, Tom Schreiber, Matt McMahon, Graeme Hossack, Connor DeSimone, Mike Sisselberger, Brian Kavanagh, Paul Kim.
Those were the eight individuals considered by the Archers organization to be the funniest individuals in the locker room. Through four weeks of the PLL season, the Archers are in first place in the league at 3-1 with a +6 score differential. Although there’s been plenty of on-field reasons for the club’s success so far, arguably the most significant has been how the team has bonded off the field via an environment that not only invites, but encourages humor.
“It’s a lot of fun to be around the guys,” says veteran All-World defender Graeme Hossack. “In all locker rooms there are talented players and guys that get along. But trying to build that atmosphere where you don’t really get clicks, where everyone wants to hang out together and be a team is what we’re aiming for.”
The 2023 Archers are a fairly new team from the club that started the journey with the league over five years ago. The offseason departures of organizational stalwarts Dominique Alexander, Scott Ratliff, Adam Ghitelman, Will Manny, and Marcus Holman have meant that this season’s locker room is far different from years past.
“It’s been an interesting feel to the locker room this year,” adds Matt McMahon. “Obviously we had a lot of guys that were with us from the beginning, and a lot of them moved on. These were pillars of culture and camaraderie of the locker room.”
But, in the process of rebuilding a locker room for the future, it’s been the willingness of the club as a whole to embrace a degree of fun and humor that allows for everyone to be comfortable. McMahon notes that “in order to be successful on the field, you have to care a lot about the people in the locker room and that stuff doesn’t develop out of thin air.”
With that in mind, the veterans currently on the Archers have taken it upon themselves to curate an environment that brings people together through light-hearted antics. Whether it be pranks, the good-natured “Kangaroo Court” the club established in the 2020 bubble season, or just good natured ribbing, the club is always quick to make new faces comfortable.
“The big jokesters on the team are the veterans,” says Club Liaison Paul Kim. “The Tommy Schreibers, the Ryan Amblers, the Matt McMahons, the Graeme Hossacks. Almost criminally jokesters. There’s a reason why those guys went to Ivy Leagues, you see it even in their humor and in their jokes. There’s great preparation, it’s detailed, it’s planned. And it’s got so many twists and turns. In the end, all you can do is say bravo and clap your hands and applaud.”
Humor was how Hossack was brought into the fold back in 2021. When he joined the team, Ambler, Schreiber, and McMahon all made a conscious effort to goof around with him in order to make him feel at home. Now, two years later, he’s one of the most prominent leaders in the team.
“I think to some degree those things are related to each other,” notes McMahon.
From a roster construction perspective, the fun-loving element of the locker room is an important one for Head Coach and General Manager Chris Bates. “When you draft somebody, trade somebody, or sign somebody as a free agent you’re always trying to think about what kind of impact they’re going to have as it relates to the community.”
“There’s some subtlety and nuance to the humor,” adds Bates. “There’s some self-deprecating humor and a gentle tease of each other. And that can create bonds.”
So far, so good for the collection of new players for the Archers this season. The club has three rookies and a pair of free agents in its 19-man roster this week and have effectively incorporated all five into the heart of the team.
After the first game of the season and the conclusion of training camp, rookie faceoff specialist Mike Sisselberger was already feeling the love from his teammates. “These guys welcomed me with open arms and I can’t thank them enough,” he said. “I just can’t thank these guys enough for the compassion and friendship they’ve shown me.”