Welcome back to “A Lacrosse Weekend” my weekly compilation of thoughts, ideas, history, stories, myths/truths about the great game of lacrosse! I hope you find it interesting!
Holy cow what a beat down that was! I don’t think anyone saw 22-6 coming! Ethan Walker, a Canadian from Peterborough, ON scored 8 goals and is leading Division I with 38 for the season in ten games. I’m going to have to go back and watch this dismantling on demand….Just to see the precision of Denver. This is the Pioneers at their best: 27/30 on face offs, shooting 51%, giving up 6 goals on 34 shots, ridiculous ball control, and physical team defense resulting in 6 goals and 7 saves. Wow! Is there a better tandem than Bill Tierney and Matt Brown? These guys show the world how to coach lacrosse!
Summer of 2013
Speaking of Ethan Walker, in the summer of 2013 we launched 3d Canada, a club team made up of the best ’97’s and ’98 birth years (everything is birth years in Canada) and I coached the 2015 team (they almost all became 2016’s) team at High Point Head Coach Jon Torpey's (my former assistant at Denver) “Baltimore Summer Kick-off.” At the time our team seemed pretty legit, but looking back, it was a pretty amazing compilation of talent.
Here is a list of the ’97’s:
• Ethan Walker Denver, off the charts scorer and much more athletic than you think
• Jeff Teat Cornell, will be an all-time great in field and box
• Ben French Vermont, played on Canadian u19 national team
• Jake Fox Johns Hopkins, plays Jr A and Sr A in Peterborough
• Warren Jeffrey Vermont, beast of a D man in field and nasty for Mimico in box, played in the Minto Cup last season
• Connor McClelland Marquette, speedy 2 way mid
• Johnny Wagner Marquette, Best player on his team, beast of a dodging athlete, grew up playing Jr B in Niagra on the Lake, ON
• Bryce Yetman Whitby, went hockey route and is just now getting looks in DI. He’s a dynamic pole in field, but plays “O” in box and is a power play level forward for Whitby Jr A
• Dawson Theade, top 10 scorer in Jr A for Whitby
• Nick Ellerton, stud pole who went to Boston University
• Justin Lemcke: this kid was the prized recruit of the ENTIRE summer. Literally every program wanted this kid as their number one guy. Ryan Conrad had already been taken, now this kid was up! A 6’3’’ dominant athlete who could do it all in box and field. He went the hockey route and is still trying to make it to the NHL. Coaches still call me and ask what he’s up to!
I’m down here in beautiful Chapel Hill supporting the ‘Heels! This is such a big game for both teams. UNC desperately needs a W and Virginia still hasn’t won an ACC game since 2014. It’s raining here now and there is a football inter -quad game, then a women’s lax game on the field before the men’s game at 6pm ET. Should be a mud-fest and will be a hard fought game that will leave one team very depressed.
How do you get recruited?
This is one of the most common questions that turns into an obsession for parents of serious lacrosse players. Here are a few thoughts:
1. Focus on being a good enough player! How do you do that? In my opinion, the best way BY FAR to become really freaking good at lacrosse, is the "Sandlot Model" of pick up games. In pickup games players learn competitiveness and creativity that sparks greatness. Think about it. How did you grow up playing sports? Pick up basketball, pond hockey, soccer in the streets… world class athletes all over the world have used the Sandlot Model to become great. And in lacrosse, almost nobody plays pick up. EXCEPT the Native Americans, who play backyard lacrosse all the time and guess what? They are the most skilled and creative lacrosse players in the world!
2. For girls, the “Pick up game” model is equally powerful. Most girls youth and club lacrosse is full field, full speed, up and down, and not a lot of team play because the no checking rules in youth create an environment where the fastest girl literally doesn’t have to pass to be the best. The tight confines, the touch passes and off ball movements in pick up games is an environment is invaluable.
3. Touches: based on stats I’ve taken from pick up games and club games, you can expect 10x more touches in pick up games
4. Everyone is looking for the best club team to play on….. Maybe they should also look for the best pick up game to play in!
5. Make a development plan. Does anyone actually go through the process of evaluation and improvement planning?
6. Use video to evaluate what you’re good at, what you need to work on, what you should do more of, what you should do less of, where on the field you have the most success, off ball…. Video is the most powerful teacher. Leverage it!
7. Find a club program that focuses on team play. Coaches that can create legitimate ball movement, people movement, and team defense can create an environment where the high IQ player who is skilled will shine. Without this type of play, the only players who truly shine are the biggest, fastest players who dodge all the time.
8. Find a club program that will compete at events where college coaches traditionally attend. Look at last year’s list and if it’s a new event, look at the history of that event company’s college coach attendance list. The best event operators / club organizations are consistent with the type of attendance. Reason: they pay for coaches to be there and it costs a lot!
9. Find an advocate: the lacrosse world is tight knit and coaches develop a network of trusted coaches that tip them off on legit players. There is no doubt that college coaches make their own decisions on who the best kids are, but there is also no doubt that they will take a hard look at players recommended by people they trust.
What is a waste of time in the recruiting process?
1. Expecting to get better at Tourneys or Showcases: you don’t get enough touches to get better. Count them. I did. It’s not pretty.
2. Making lists and visiting schools you’d like to play at. There is a time and place to visit colleges… when you’re getting ready to apply or when you’re actually being recruited and need to make a decision. Before that, you are putting the cart before the horse. You could spend that time getting better!
3. Going to prospect days and showcases if you’re NOT a dodger. At these types of camps, there is almost never team play (there are exceptions) and if you’re a player who is a high IQ,/Skill player who doesn’t dodge a lot, you will not get a look. Guaranteed. (See the bullet above regarding finding a club team that focuses on team play)
4. Focusing on exposure when you’re not ready for that step. First step: be good enough. Second step: exposure.
I have come to love watching and coaching women’s and girl’s lacrosse. There are many who think that the games are totally different and I disagree. The best players at either sport can do the same things! Dodge, shoot, feed, cut, and fake with a great repertoire of moves and skills. It drives me crazy when dudes say, “I don’t know anything about girls lacrosse” or when women say, “The games are totally different, you can’t do that in women’s lacrosse.” The truth is 95% of the games are identical- the moves, footwork, concepts….. there is a lot to be learned and enjoyed from both games!
I believe that deception in general and specifically faking passes, shots, and dodges is the difference between good and great. Look at John Grant Jr or Lyle Thompson-the wizards of lacrosse- they fake the most. Although faking is a skill anyone can do, not many players fake very often other than a “hitch and go” or “fake high shoot low.” Maybe faking is innate!?
Here’s a funny story about faking. When I was in college I used to play a lot of guitar and sometimes I’d play with our goalie, Steve Ayers AKA, Snake. Snake was a classic goalie (crazy), who actually showed up to school sophomore year with nothing but his equipment on his stick over his shoulder… he had overslept and was going to miss the train from Charlottesville to Providence. When our friend JP woke him up and he had no time to pack, Snake looked around his room at 5am, grabbed his stick/equipment (there were no equipment bags back then) and headed off to school.
Anyway, Snake knew how to play guitar but didn’t know any songs… he just knew all the chord progressions and could follow along by watching my left hand and the chord changes. I would watch him watch my left hand and then I realized if I faked chords I could make him, say, jump all over a D chord when I was really going with a Bm. Watching a goalie bite on "Chord Fakes” was hilarious. Finally he realized I was messing with him and it was pretty funny. Is faking innate? Maybe.