Did you know that January 7, 2019 is College Football’s National Championship game? Odds are that at least one team from the Southeastern Conference (SEC) will be represented for the fourth consecutive year. It is arguably the most dominant conference in College Football with some of the most well-known coaches, talent, facilities, and fan bases in the country. The same can be said of The National Lacrosse Federation (NLF) as this organization is at the forefront of evolution to league play for Club Lacrosse.
As per US Club Lacrosse, there now are over 800 Lacrosse club teams spanning across the country, and the challenge remains to host competitive tournaments without lopsided scores. Six of the leading organizations decided to make a change and band together seeking parody in elite competition. The Baltimore Crabs, Big 4 HHH, Laxachussets, Leading Edge, Long Island Express and Team 91 were the original members of the NLF founded in 2015. The alliance has since grown to 16 with the additions of LB3 Thunder (GA), Mesa (PA), Eclipse (CT), West Coast Starz (CA), Edge (CAN), Madlax (VA/MD/DC), Legends (CA), Primetime (NY), Denver Elite (CO), and Sweetlax National who compete in some of the most exclusive “Super Series” and showcases in the country.
Similar to the SEC, teams of the NLF are not exclusively playing games against conference rivals. These highly competitive interconference battles are entertaining, excel player development, and display local talent on a national stage making it easier for scouts to identify a player’s skill set that will transfer to the next level. It can be noted that the SEC, for the 12th consecutive year, led all football conferences for the most prospects selected in last year’s 2018 NFL draft. It is why the NLF is a hotbed for Division 1 Lacrosse talent. It is why both conferences dominate the national Top 25 rankings.
As dominate as the SEC has been in popularity, other Power 5 conferences and smaller school conferences produce top NFL prospects, top 25 teams, and National Champions. Within the next five years, Club Lacrosse will be regulated and create its own version of Power 5 conferences where many summer and fall tournaments will be conference specific.
The Lax Federation (LAX FED) has already developed its own alliance of 20+ national programs that utilizes its resources as additional value programs for the student athletes beyond exposure of national tournament play. LAX FED offers its members a variety of benefits that include discounts on gear, travel, training, and even provide a college advisory service.
Club Lacrosse will benefit as a whole when it is regulated and conferences develop. Tournament play will produce more competitive play, collective resources will be passed along to the student athletes, and there will be improved efficiencies to the recruitment process for college coaches.
Could there one day be a Club Lacrosse’s version of the Orange Bowl or Cotton Bowl to determine a Club Lacrosse Final 4 National Champion? I think it’s closer than you think- and odds are that at least one team from the NLF will be represented.