Now that the Spring 2012 Lacrosse is in full swing, I can’t help but start to think about the upcomming Summer Club Lacrosse season. A lot of planning has been done by Clubs, Future’s programs and even the town and HS programs in regards to tryouts, roster size, uniforms, schedules, hotel reservation, fan wear including custom gloves, helmets among other things to not only promote the future of their Club, but try and give their Members a good, positive experience in the hopes that they will come back not only next Summer, but this Fall and Winter.
Not so long ago, the only kids who would have this opportunity were the best, most competitive (and Parentally political Players). This was due to the few Summer Team options. Here in New Jersey, there were only a handful, primarily Patriot Lacrosse that is owned and run by Delbarton Head Coach Chuck Ruebling, then came Leading Edge, NJ Elite, Tri State and 2Knights. When my young laxers were coming up through Elementary, Middle School, having an opportunity to wear that Silver Patriot helmet was the Pinnacle of your Lax existance.
Today, in New Jersey alone, there are about 35 different Clubs and there is an opportunity for a lot of Kids to play in the “off season” as if there is one anymore.
Clearly the quality as in Lacrosse IQ, pure playing ability and overall dominance is suspectfully suspect.
The difference makers is the Coaching. Is it a college kid or a Dad (frowned upon in Club) or someone who has experience having the available time in between their main job to do it.
From my research 1 Club has risen to the top of its class, that is TRILOGY. They are in the business full time, this is all they do, have some of the top pro’s in the World as Owners and accept the input of its membership.
Let me back up a little. I never played Lacrosse, I fell in love with the game through the eyes of my then 2nd grade son JP, and Kindergarten son Jake. Through the years, I found my way into the game helping some of the Worlds best Players and College Coaches navigate through the growth opportunities in apparrel, Lacrosse Manufacurers endorsement and appearance-clinics deals. Since 2004, I have worked with Matt Ward, John Christmas, Paul Rabil, Zack Greer, Grant Catalino, Kevin Casssese and Mike Pressler, including his crisis Management during the Duke Scandal in 2006 with deals ranging in about all the Lacrosse Companies and top programs.
I have prided myself in telling it straight with sometimes not making friends, unfortunatunately I only know this way and have only one speed.
Over the years, my sons have played in various clubs and saw my son Jake have the opportunity to wear that Silver Helmet in 6th Grade. Flash forward to 2012, JP is a Sophomore in HS starting at Attack for Randolph Varsity and Jake is a top scorer for Joe Nazzaro’s 8th grade Randolph Varsity.
I have heard the talk from Jersey Thunder who has their members AKA “Thunder nation” believe that they are among the top clubs around, though they have rarely if ever played against the top Teams in the area in any Tournament.
Leading Edge, who has been ultra successful at every level, moving their operation to the Watchung area and having independant people rate their tryouts to be as objective as they can be. Mark Moreau is a class act and no surprise his entity is successful.
Like him or hate him, but you cannot ignore Charlie Shoulberg’s Steps program. Charlie has help unite the “stay with your town concept” and offers those eligible players the opportunity to make an All Star Team in Fall and Summer that is as good as any. Charlie is honest and for those who know him know that he is a winner that charges a fair wage and has rounded up some of the best Coaches in the area to Coach his Teams.
2Knights, owned by legendary Coach Chuck Appel is always competitive and a force. His history of Coaching some of the best Teams including U19 makes playing for them a quality choice anyday of the week.
The aforementioned Patriot has had a lot of success. Communication with staff is very minimal and Coach Ruebling is not particularly approachable. They are incredibly organized and priced fairly. The true secret about them is that noone really knows truly how their Teams are selected, what if any help their is to get into Delbarton. Their selections and program decisions have been very un predicatable with no answers ever respoded to. Thus, if you can make one of their Teams, be proud, that Silver Helmet really means something in the Lacrosse community.
Trilogy, I cannot say enough good things about Ryan Boyle and Company. Their invite Camps draw from every Club out there, they are top quality, their gear is awesome, they are Classy, educated and best of all, they do this full time.
Then there is Building Blocks. They originately had a good concept of year round training, 2 Teams per level with a rotating ladder of position. The more you dig in, you realize that they have huge turnover and are run more like a cult than a Lacrosse club. Their Cult leader Andrew Hubschmann has found a good set of believers that are willing to pay a ransom of money all throughout the year, comparable to paying Hockey costs.
Tri State has been around for a long time. They have been called a lot of names and accussed of a lot of things, including all about making Money. If your son plays for their top 2 Teams at each age level you have a Home Run. Their Black Team has turned out some of the best College Laxers in the game over the years. Every business has the right to make money, and if people are willing to pay, who is it to say its wrong. The Turco Family have put together some excellent top billing events and are always in the game.
These mentioned Clubs as well as a thousand others across the Country are now fighting for the services of these kids as they get into High school to play for them in lieu of the pressure from their respective High Schools to stay together and play for them. Those with aspirations of playing College Lacrosse are being invited to Recruiting Camps, individual College Prospect days and 3 day camps.
Making a good decision on where to play as a Middle Schooler has beome more signifigant in years past. Hopefully this article either taught you something, confirmed something, peaked your interest or made you think that I am off my rocker.
If it the first part, Thank you, if its the last part, take a number because there is a long list ahead of you.
See you on the field…