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The inside story behind the Carolina Chaos’ bolo tie tradition

Austin Kaut Austin Kaut - PLL

For four seasons, from 2019 to 2022, the Chaos followed the common lacrosse tradition of handing out game balls to recognize players for excellent performances. 

Then, before the 2023 PLL season, veteran short-stick defensive midfielder Pat Resch had a wedding to attend in Texas. The cowboy-themed event sparked a purchase that positively altered team chemistry. 

“I was looking on Amazon for a tie for a buddy’s wedding down in Texas,” Resch explained. “The wedding was cowboy-themed, so I Googled, like, ‘bolo tie.’”

Resch, a Philadelphia native, never needed cowboy attire in the past. But as hundreds of Amazon results flashed on his screen, one immediately caught his eye. 

“The first one that came up on Amazon had a scorpion in it,” the 10-year veteran said. “It was right before the season and right before training camp, so I was like, ‘I have to get one of these for the team.’”

The scorpion was fitting for the Chaos. After purchasing the tie, Resch had an idea and a plan to execute it. 

His idea was simple: award the tie to a player on the team who has a large impact on the first game, replacing the traditional game ball. Then, have that player hand out the tie the following week to a new teammate, and so on.

First, Resch wanted to make sure a couple of key teammates were on board. He quickly phoned fellow veterans Blaze Riorden and Austin Kaut to fill them in, and shortly thereafter, the plan was in motion.

“We thought it might be unique to, you know, have the guy who got it the game before, pick somebody to pass it along to, and kind of recognize their efforts,” Resch explained. “Whether it was they had a great game, or they had a hustle play or, you know, just something that represented what we were all about."

After getting the goalies on his side, Resch brought the idea to the team. His main selling point: letting everyone know that the tie was to be presented after every game, no matter the result.

“We were talking about kind of like a player of the game thing whether it's a win, lose or draw,” Kaut said. “Someone that really just exemplifies what we're looking for in a teammate of the Carolina Chaos."

A teammate of the Carolina Chaos is expected to play hard for the people on his left or right no matter the circumstances of the game.

A player who has often exceeded those expectations is Zach Geddes. Geddes earned the tie after his three-point (2G, 1A) performance against the New York Atlas in Week 2. His high-motor and hard-working approach has earned the respect of his teammates.

“I think just from our team perspective, everybody who's in the locker room knows how much Zach brings to the team, and he's really coming into his own,” Resch said about his fellow SSDM. “So he's one teammate that's gotten it a few times."

To make sure the tradition can carry on, the tie-winner has to bring the tie to the next game. Luckily for them, it’s hard to forget.

“Some guys almost forget, you know, leaving it at home that week, so we make sure we text everybody every week to make sure to bring it,” Kaut said.

The introduction of the tie has sparked some creative gameday fashion choices, with players like Josh Byrne and Riorden planning outfits around it. The tie also has a special feature that makes it hard to misplace.

“The nice part is it glows in the dark, so you can never lose it,” Kyle Jackson explained.

Even with all of the reminders from teammates and the glow-in-the-dark feature, the tie did disappear for a while.

“There was a period last season where, I think it got lost at some point, and we were without it for a little bit,” Resch said.

But it eventually was found, and the tradition has carried on since. Nobody knows who lost the tie, and some of the guys didn’t even know it was missing.

However, a theme is starting to brew on which teammates might forget the tie in the future.

Second-year close defender Will Bowen is at the top of that list as a guy to keep in check when he wins the tie. His teammates don’t think he’s a forgetful person, just that “he has big priorities.”

Even with the friendly banter and the harsh callout of Bowen, the tie has helped bring the team closer together, acting as a catalyst for bonding among everyone on the squad. It has helped to create a family environment across the board and has made transitioning into the league easier for rookies.

“The boys on the team made me feel like family the second I stepped foot in Albany at training camp,” third-round draft pick Ross Scott said. “I already feel like I have known all of my teammates for years and we have an amazing family culture in the team. Before the season even started, that was our biggest point about how we were going to create a winning team, through the culture and being close with each other.”

A family-esque locker room has always been a mainstay for the Chaos, and it’s something the team is always striving to enhance.

“We just need to win a couple more games to make the bolo tie a little bit more memorable postgame,” Jackson said. 

The bolo tie is getting some rest with the 2-2 Chaos on a bye this week. It won’t be needed again until July 19, when the Chaos take on the Maryland Whipsnakes in Fairfield.