Summer Youth Lacrosse
The 2018 summer has so far brought on some great challenges and some greater opportunities. I’ve been playing with the Onondaga Redhawks, training for the upcoming NLL season and appearing, and coaching at several lacrosse camps and tournaments. Each experience teaches me something new about the game, and about the players and spectators.
My first opportunity to coach the youth this summer was from Ryan McClernan of Crabs Lacrosse out of Baltimore, MD. The Crabs are a perennial powerhouse on the select team scene, a Nike Partner and are well known as the team to beat. Ryan invited me to coach the Florida Crabs team at the Crab Feast in late June. This was an awesome experience because I was exposed to the speed and athleticism that comes with Florida athletes. The challenge was to increase their lacrosse IQ to match the top teams from NY and Maryland. The players were receptive and coachable, and they were fired up to have me as their coach— that fired me up! We left our mark at the Crab Feast and the players headed back south.
After the Crab Feast, I was invited to be a defensive coach at the Crabs Prospect Camp. This is a 4 day overnight camp, where 6th, 7th and 8th grade players participate. This is a true teaching camp with a lot of lacrosse. My goal was to teach these young lacrosse players the love for the game and ensure they had a great experience. I was able to get a couple workouts in with fellow Lacrosse Pro and meat head, Scotty Rodgers (Goalie Director for the Crabs Prospect Camp). That boy Scotty is strong!
This past week I was invited to two different summer lacrosse tournaments: first the PrimeTime National Invitational in Lake George, NY, and then the Lacrosse Federation Mid Atlantic Showcase. Both tournaments had a great number of high-level lacrosse players and teams. It was a cool experience to be able to interact with the players, speak with college recruiters on what they’re looking for and watch some high-level lacrosse.
So far this summer I’ve learned something new at each event:
1. Lacrosse swag style varies from each part of the country.
2. Winning is important, but learning from losses can benefit players more.
3. The players who gave it their all typically had better overall experiences.
4. Some parents shouldn’t attend tournaments.
5. It’s our responsibility as pros, coaches, role models to ensure that each athlete enjoys their experience.
At the end of the day, these lacrosse players are the games’ future. We must instill the values that grow the game the right way and learn from the losses. Everyone deserves a great experience, but handing out trophies to every player sends the wrong message. If I had not failed and lost while growing up in youth sports, I would not have developed as a player or person. Life's most valuable lessons come from failures, mistakes and losses.