US Club Lacrosse is excited to partner with US Lax Events on one of the biggest showcase tournaments in the country this summer, coming to the Midwest. No need to travel to the East Coast the weekend of July 11th and 12th, because the Chicago Summer Shootout will have everything your club team is looking for - highly competitive games, premier college recruitment, and the chance to move yourself up the club rankings! This high school level event is sure to draw the best teams and college coaches from the region and beyond.
The 2020 Summer Shootout will take place July 11-12 at the Frontier Sports Complex in Naperville, IL. Just a short trip from downtown Chicago, this great central location is easily accessible to all of the Midwestern programs.
Henry Sitkiewicz, US Lax Events Director of Business, is excited to continue the great tradition of this tournament, “The Chicago Summer Shootout is where Midwest teams play to get ranked by US Club Lax. An extensive list of college coaches from across the country make the trip to the Chicago Summer Shootout knowing future collegiate players are in attendance.” Last year's tournament saw an impressive list of over 50 Division I through Division III college coaches on the sideline, and this year that list will grow as these coaches now know they can’t miss this event.
US Club Lacrosse will be powering the Summer Shootout for the first time this summer. “The partnership between US Lax and US Club Lax brings a whole new level of tournament experience to everyone in attendance, creating the best Midwest recruiting event”, adds Sitkiewicz. The 2020 Summer Shootout participants will benefit greatly due to the US Club Lacrosse partnership. Player and team profiles and highlights, All-Tournament teams, video recaps, coach and player interviews, an Interactive Vendor Village, and much more can be expected at this year’s event.
For additional information on this event, or to register you team, visit https://www.uslaxevents.com/page/show/1141479-summer-shootout.
The Legends Lacrosse National Cup has quickly become a can’t miss winter event for boys and girls teams across the country. “We are thrilled to officially be powered by US Club Lax and are excited to elevate the event experience on and off the field. By working together we will create a truly unique atmosphere that cannot be replicated anywhere else,” says Rory Doucette, Co Founder of Legends Lacrosse.
The National Cup is held at one of the top facilities in the country, the Surf Cup Sports Park, which is home to 20+ manicured grass fields and located less than a mile from the beaches of Del Mar. Mix in 35+ NCAA Coaches and 130+ boys & girls teams, there’s no reason to think twice about making this an annual stop on the club lacrosse circuit. This years’ tournament will have divisions open to 2020-2027 teams.
San Diego is widely known as “America’s finest city” and is famous for it’s miles and miles of sandy beaches and year round perfect weather. You can feel the ocean breeze while competing throughout the morning, and by the afternoon you’ll find yourself enjoying the beach, visiting the San Diego Zoo, or exploring the historic Gaslamp District downtown. There’s no shortage of off-field attractions for visitors of all ages!
"We are so excited for this opportunity to partner with Legends Lacrosse on this event. The Legend's National Cup is one of the premier events on the west coast and we look forward to providing national exposure to all the clubs and players who will be in attendance." says Denis Noonan CEO of US Club Lacrosse.
“I wish I had the opportunity to attend something like the National Cup as a kid. Growing up on the East Coast (Long Island), I feel like this would have been the perfect chance to get out of the cold and experience a dual vacation/lacrosse trip with my family” says Reid Doucette. He continued to talk about how the growth of the sport in the West, and non-traditional areas as a whole, has been substantial over the years. It has helped pave the way for the National Cup to be the perfect platform to showcase all of that growth and talent, and furthermore to put some of these high level clubs from hotbed areas to the test against national level teams that they don’t typically see. In just it’s third year, the National Cup will see teams from 13+ states and Canada put on a show in front of some of the top NCAA programs across America.
By Eric Black
US Club Lacrosse is excited to announce that we will be powering The Club Lacrosse Nationals 2020 in January near Orlando, Florida. The new tournament will be held from Jan. 3-5 and feature boys club teams from 2022-2029. It is a collaboration between US Club Lacrosse, Madlax and LI Legacy, who already own and operate experienced event management companies in MDLX Events and Top Lacrosse Tournaments.
The top 100 teams in our 2022-2025 rankings will be automatically invited to participate, while all 2026-2029 teams nationally are welcome to join. Thanks to the tournament being the first of the calendar year, it’ll also serve as the first piece of results for our 2022-2026 rankings next season.
Located just 20 minutes away from Disneyworld, the tournament will take place on luxurious Bermuda grass fields at the Austin-Tindall Sports Complex. Teams will play games over the span of three days, allowing for off-the-field fun in and around the area.
“We felt teams nationally wanted a warm weather, vacation style, first-class tournament (that was not a recruiting event),” Madlax founder Cabell Maddux said, “but (also) attracted some of the top teams ranked in (the U.S. Club Lacrosse rankings).”
Maddux hopes to expand the tournament to include both girls and boys in its second year. With Madlax already part of the NAL and its tournaments, he hopes The Club Lacrosse Nationals will serve as a fun vacation event that features strong lacrosse. He added that the partnership with U.S. Club Lacrosse makes it extremely exciting and validates the quality of the teams that will be participating.
U.S. Club Lacrosse is the go-to site for the lacrosse community to obtain information on tournaments, rankings, tryouts, clinics, and further details on Club teams. It was created to conduct research in order to find the best fit for your player or team's developmental needs.
Usclublax.com also provides a forum for club and tournament directors to keep their information up to date with the rest of the lacrosse community. The Club Lacrosse Nationals is the first-ever tournament powered by U.S. Club Lacrosse.
“We are really excited about powering this event that utilizes our social media and marketing to make it fun, competitive and exciting for all the boys and teams competing,” U.S. Club Lacrosse owner Denis Noonan said, “and helping make this the biggest event of the new club lacrosse season.”
By Eric Black
When Brian Langtry first moved to Colorado 20 years ago, few people were involved with lacrosse at the youth level. Aside from a handful of coaches and a high school scene dominated by only a few teams, lacrosse was a largely-unexploited sport.
“Then everyone went all-in on the club scene,” Langtry said. “And I felt like there was a piece of development that wasn’t really getting done.”
Langtry, a Long Island native who played over two decades of professional lacrosse, noticed that while there was a lot of team building going on, there wasn’t a big enough focus on individual development. A few years ago, he began training players on the side before their parents spoke up, wanting more. They told him he should start putting club teams together and when his brother, Rich, doubled down on the thought, Langtry committed to the idea.
Today, 6 Star Lacrosse has boys teams at the 2023, 2025, and 2026 level with tryouts for 2024 and 2027 teams set to take place in August. At the core of each of their practices is specialized training based on what each specific player needs to work on or what the team struggled with in their last game. Langtry’s commitment to player development and training is what he believes sets 6 Star apart from other programs.
“I spent 16 years as a teacher, knowing that each kid needs something different,” Langtry said. “So I try to look at the player as an individual and meet their needs.”
Langtry played attack for two seasons during his lacrosse career - his senior year of college at Hofstra and his last year with the Long Island Lizards of Major League Lacrosse, when he was 35. In order to adjust to playing the position, Langtry focused in and studied the game.
After starting in the MLL when all midfielders had short sticks, he had to break down how to carry against a long pole, especially in the latter stages of his career. To do so, he began to watch more lacrosse, something he still does today. If he’s not going to a high school or youth game he’s watching college games, either live or taped.
“I played 21 seasons of professional lacrosse, and I'm not exactly the most athletic person on earth,” Langtry said, laughing. “So I know the skill aspect of the game.”
Langtry’s love of watching lacrosse extends into his coaching and training, as at least once per season he’ll break down video of his team’s game, minute-by-minute, writing notes as it goes on. Then he’ll send it out, notes and all, to the players and their parents for them to review. In the fall, he’ll even go over video with the parents and players himself.
During practices he’ll use Coach’s Eye, an app that allows him to film a player shooting and break down their body movements. It allows him to determine the technicalities of how they’re shooting, like if they’re snapping their wrists or not. With help from Chase Clark, another coach in the program, 6 Star also does Black Diamond training, which involves offensive and defensive groups splitting up. The defense goes with Clark while the offense follows Langtry, then the players begin playing 1-on-1, 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 before shifting to a full-team situation.
“Practices are really intense, I personally have my hand in everything,” Langtry said. “...My goal is to make every individual player better, and at the end of the day the wins will follow if every player is improving.”
Langtry explained that he’d rather have five more kids join 6 Star than have a team win a gold medal or a t-shirt from some tournament. The growth of Colorado lacrosse at the youth level is what’s most important to him, and so far he’s making a difference.
There weren’t many kids committed to the sport when Langtry first started coaching in the area - rather, it was more of a “fun sport” that they played on the side. Now, he’s seeing players get to the point where they’re being serious and seeing their potential opportunities with lacrosse. Quality-wise, there’s a long way to go to get to the level of play of their peers on Long Island, but the gap is smaller than it used to be.
“I couldn't have played on these teams, like my sixth-grade team,” Langtry said. “When I was in sixth grade I wouldn't have made this team, in Colorado, and I lived on Long Island. They're just a lot better. The level of everything has been raised.”
By Eric Black
Recently, US Club Lacrosse has been notified of the issue of players switching club teams for a weekend, game, or tournament. Often, these players are some of the stars of their teams, and their absence or presence could decide a game one way or another. These “ringers” are becoming apparent all around the club circuit, and raise the question over whether or not the practice is fair or in any way undercuts the value of tryouts or the sportsmanship of competition.
On one hand, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, most players compete in these club tournaments in order to get exposure from college coaches. Many tournaments are even deemed showcases, rather than tournaments, because the ultimate goal is to have players display their skills.
Tad Doyle, the founder of Rising Sons lacrosse, is generally not in favor of adding players to load a team, despite the fact that he’s seen it been done at the younger ages. That being said, he permitted one of his players to briefly switch teams in an effort to improve his college hopes.
“We did just have one (player) who Amherst wanted to see play,” Doyle said. “So I called (the team) to see if they would let him run with them. They were short kids and obliged. That is how and why it should be done. Not to stack a team versus regular club teams.”
Patty Daley, the head coach of the 2020 Check-Hers Elite team, has seen her players been recruited by other teams in the past. While they’ve never decided to change teams, Daley’s players are given the opportunity to make the decision for themselves and consider the pros and cons of doing so.
She believes that ringers defeat the purpose of a team’s tryouts, and no matter what team a player decides to play for, they’ll always receive exposure and recognition.
“It really comes down to the team and coaches a player wants to play for,” Daley said. “And the philosophy of the club. All three things are considerations for players.”
Daley thinks that the mid-season recruitment of players shouldn’t occur as much as it does, but there isn’t really any plausible way to police it. Another coach that has seen his players been recruited in a similar fashion is Andy Pons, the Director of Lacrosse Operations for Thunder LB3 lacrosse. Teams have reached out to the kids on their Elite teams in the past through social media, something Pons described as “slimy”.
Thunder LB3 Elite, based out of the Atlanta area, never recruits kids outside Georgia because that would “hurt their overall mission.” While they do have a national team, with players outside of the state, Pons explained that they only play in one tournament (Naptown Challenge) and instead enjoy weekends filled with college tours and training. If a player is already on a team scheduled to play in the Naptown Challenge, Thunder LB3 doesn’t take him.
“The topic of ‘ringers’ is always a hot conversation,” Pons said. “Personally, I don't understand the attraction. Our guys get the best training in the country and we have developed a great track record of college commitments...We do not want to develop a reputation for ‘stealing kids.’”
Dave Mitchell, the President and Owner of Next Level Lacrosse, often sees ringers at big-time recruiting events in the November, June, and July months, he said. Many of these kids are likely on a different team than usual because their original squad either wasn’t playing in the event, or they thought they’d get more exposure on the new team.
If this was the case for all ringers, there’d likely be less brushback from opposing coaches, parents, and players. Although winning games is always important no matter what the setting, that concept may need to be viewed through a different lens when it comes to the future careers and college choices of teenagers.
Mitchell doesn’t think ringers are a problem for club lacrosse, but he does think they “undermine the value of the team,” and its long-term chemistry. What do you think? Is the increasing frequency of ringers in club lacrosse good or bad for the sport?
By Eric Black
Greer Hanlon was the only one of his friends who owned a stick when he began playing lacrosse in the suburbs of Chicago in the late ‘90s. They didn’t know the game, nor did they have much opportunity to watch it, and instead opted for more popular sports. Hanlon had to work on his game by himself.
He ultimately committed to play the sport collegiately at the University of Denver and played there for four years before moving to Charleston. There, last July, he started Charleston Elite, a new club lacrosse program for boys and girls in the area. Although it’s still early on in its stages of development, the program is already inspiring kids to start playing the sport of lacrosse at a young age.
The first call Hanlon made before he started the program was to Matt Brown, the current associate head coach at Denver. Brown is also one of the founders and directors of Denver Elite Lacrosse and the Denver Elite Box Lacrosse Program. Despite the distance, Hanlon knew he wanted his program to be connected.
“I said, ‘Matt, look. I want to start a club. Can I affiliate with you?’” Hanlon explained. “And he said ‘absolutely’...One of our players is going to play for their box team this summer and we hope to have them down for some clinics and things of that nature to help promote the game by us.”
Box lacrosse is a major part of the plan to teach the game and develop players by Charleston Elite, which runs a box lacrosse academy in the winter. If Hanlon had it his way, all kids in 5th grade and below would play box lacrosse instead of field lacrosse, where many kids could take a number of trips up and down the field without even touching the ball.
With box, they can develop their comfort with and without the ball in constant high-pressure situations, which field lacrosse games feature significantly less often. The skill aspect that box lacrosse can help with is something the program is really trying to expand in with its teachings. One of the ways they’re doing this is by going to schools, classrooms, and specifically physical education classes to teach the game. Hanlon’s found that it’s a great way to organically introduce the game to young kids.
“I talk about it with PE teachers all the time,” Hanlon said. “(The kids) like sports, they’re okay at sports, but they’re really enthusiastic about lacrosse. Whereas they’re not enthusiastic about soccer or football or basketball or whatever else. For me, that’s awesome. If we do that for one person, we’re doing our job of growing the game.”
Hanlon explained that they’ve ventured to four different middle schools so far, all with about 700 kids in them, in addition to a high school. He’s been helped by the fact that there’s “no better place” than Charleston to play lacrosse because of its climate, aside from some rain. So far, Hanlon estimates that they’ve introduced lacrosse to over 2,500 kids that otherwise would’ve been unable to play due to barriers of entry such as cost and equipment.
Charleston Elite features six boys teams and two girls teams in the program, numbers that are expected to grow in the near future. The girls' teams are specifically of interest to him because he’s noticed that there’s a drop between 8th and 9th grade in the level of participation.
“What we're trying to do is garner that interest early on,” Hanlon said, “so that we can push through that drop-off.”
Another way Charleston Elite is trying to establish interest in the game is through the free clinics they offer, which kids can just show up to and play at. After the first clinic, there are five or six sessions of only stickwork that follow, so the key is just trying to get the kids to stay with it. Using freelacrosse.org to spread the word, they got 75 kids to come to the first clinic and play the sport for the first time, of which 50 signed up for the next clinic.
After the interest has been garnered and the fundamentals established, Charleston Elite’s goal is to ultimately compete at the regional and national levels. To do so, Hanlon hopes to be able to grow the game organically around Charleston and attract kids from all over the region to come play for the program. Even though Hanlon had to create his own path into the lacrosse world, Charleston Elite is making sure kids in the area don’t have to do the same.
"There is a lot of similarity, so what I see is the same thing Illinois had, is athletes that just haven't played the game very long or don't know the game very well,” Hanlon said. “So if we can just capture those athletes, teach them the game the right way, foster the growth, I think the success will come, it's just gonna take a bit of time.”
By Eric Black
Ryan Flanagan didn’t last more than a quarter through a high school lacrosse game in the spring of 2012. The North Carolina graduate had just graduated and was interested in continuing to work with lacrosse, so he decided to check out the quality level of high school teams in the area. It was so difficult to watch that he left before the first buzzer.
Seven years later, the former NCAA division-I defenseman of the year is back watching high school games and nowadays, he can watch contests from start to finish.
“I went and watched Weddington High School play Mallard Creek,” Flanagan said, “and I’m watching a kid who’s going to Towson covering a kid who’s going to Duke...It’s a pretty good lacrosse game.”
Flanagan, a three-time All-American with the Tar Heels and current player with the Chrome of the Premier Lacrosse League, started Team 24/7 Lacrosse when he graduated from Chapel Hill. Nearly a decade since, Team 24/7 has partnered with Team Carolina at the high school level, now has 12 travel teams and puts sticks in the hands of hundreds of kids who otherwise never would’ve played lacrosse.
From the get-go, he’s encountered those cultural differences regarding the sport in the area compared to where he grew up, in West Islip, N.Y. On Long Island, lacrosse dominates the youth sports landscape and most kids, from fifth or sixth grade on, even walk down the street with a stick in their hands. In the Charlotte area, Flanagan explained, lacrosse takes a backseat to baseball, soccer, and football.
“It’s just not as ingrained in the culture,” Flanagan said. “You have a handful of guys that are playing lacrosse, but up and down your roster, your kids aren’t as committed to it.”
That lack of commitment has lead to a significantly smaller pool of athletes than areas like Long Island or Maryland have to choose from. The best athletes in the area or in schools are playing football or baseball and focusing on it, as opposed to up north, where many kids play lacrosse as a “1A” sport and another sport as a “1B”, Flanagan explained.
The next offshoot of the cultural differences is stick skills that aren’t as good, if only because kids are rarely working on them on a consistent basis. While there are always top players that will lead the team and be mostly, if not entirely, committed to lacrosse, the talent gap is more apparent as you go down the roster. That’s despite a lot of players being great athletes - they’re just unable or unwilling to play lacrosse year-round or close to it.
Flanagan described the growth and future growth of the program in terms of a pyramid. First, you have to attract more athletes to build a bigger pool of players to choose from. After that, those players have to practice and be trained and build consistent skills.
“Part one is always build the base,” Flanagan said. “Then develop the base. You have to have your pool and develop it, and then a byproduct of that is going to be consistently competing at the national level. And then another byproduct of that is going to be more recruiting opportunities.”
To build the pool of athletes, Team 24/7 has employed a number of different strategies. What first started as a singular camp has advanced to a rec league, travel teams, and day camps. Early on, they worked with 20 to 30 kids per camp, but now their day camps are filled with upwards of 100 players and their winter league has double that.
Flanagan made sure to emphasize how important the initiative to grow the game at the youth level is, both to him personally and his program. Team 24/7 has partnered with South Park Youth Association, the same one NBA star Stephen Curry was a part of as a kid, to build a lacrosse program. When Curry was younger, there was no lacrosse program. Now, Flanagan hopes that in the future, the next Stephen Curry will take advantage of the opportunity.
Team 24/7 also began Little Stix Lacrosse, an after-school lacrosse program for kids at the elementary school level. It’s one hour, one day a week, and last year, it gave 400 kids the ability to have a lacrosse stick for the first time.
“As that grows, and those kids come through the youth programs and into the high school program,” Flanagan said, “it’s gonna be huge for the sport.”
It’s not always as simple as just putting sticks in kids’ hands, however. During the first practice Flanagan ever ran, he told his team to go into a clear and none of them knew what he meant. Between shapes and positioning, some kids need to be taught the game from the ground up. But as those fundamentals have become more known in the community and at the youth level, the quality of play has improved in addition to the jump in numbers.
Flanagan’s long-term goal is to improve the recruiting process and success for kids in North Carolina. He doesn’t understand why places like Atlanta, which doesn’t have a college team nearby, should have so much more success on the recruiting stage than North Carolina, which has schools like Duke, UNC, and Limestone in the area.
He hopes that one day, there will be someone like Peter Baum, a Seattle native who was the first West Coast player to win the Tewaaraton Trophy, from North Carolina to give kids someone to look up to and emulate.
“We’re years away from that, but that’s a working process,” Flanagan said. “And there’s all the parts of the process to get there.”
By Eric Black
When Sweetlax Lacrosse co-owners Joe Huber and Kevin Martin started Sweetlax Florida three years ago, they waded into nearly-uncharted territory. The teams they’d seen from the state that played up north in the years prior still looked to be in their developmental stages, and there were no top-tier clubs.
But Martin, who moved down to Florida six years ago, saw there was a need for an elite travel team. He’d been working with lacrosse clinics and saw a lot of kids had talent and needed the exposure. Sweetlax Florida would provide them with that.
“So, we came down here and started Sweetlax. And the first tryout, we had five kids at it,” Martin said, laughing.
Since then, the Sweetlax Florida program has emerged as one of the top programs in the state after he and other employees began making phone calls, going to high school games, and identifying kids who may be interested. This summer, there are 400 players in the program on over 20 teams, with age groups in the fall that will range from 2020-2028.
One of the hallmarks of the Sweetlax Florida program is its four Regional Development Programs (RDPs) across the state. Former Loyola star Paul Hummer recently took the reigns of the Leatherbacks RDP, located in South Florida. There’s also the Wahoos North and South teams, their Gulf Coast regional programs, and the Tallahassee Redfish for the northern part of the state.
At the RDPs, coaches work with players to create consistency in drills, player development, and team development. That means no matter what age you are in the program, all of the terminologies are the same.
“These regional development programs enable us to give our players and other talented young boys the opportunity to train and play with us throughout the course of the week,” said Kevin Dugan, Sweetlax Florida Director and head of the RDPs. “That is really helping us prepare a lot of our players for when they're playing in these NLF events and the other big events that they're competing in across the country.”
In his role, Dugan travels around the state throughout the week to visit the RDPs and run trainings and practices. With the consistency he and the program are trying to build, the teams are more able to come together and get on the same page quicker. This vision for team and player development is already coming to fruition, and Sweetlax Florida’s 2020 team is one of the major beneficiaries.
At the 2019 Adrenaline Platinum Cup in early June, the Sweetlax Florida '20s went 3-0 in their Pool, outscoring opponents 33-12 in the process. While past Sweetlax teams had success on the club level, Martin said that the 2020 group is the first that’s been able to take the next step and beat elite teams up north.
“We started beating some of the teams, and we’re like ‘whoa, this group is good,’” Martin said. “...This was our team that really officially turned the corner.”
Martin pointed out the squad’s midfield line as one of the primary reasons it’s a force to be reckoned with on the club circuit. Players like Carter Parlette and Eric Dobson, who will both be heading off to play at Notre Dame next fall, have become a “wild 1-2 punch” for Sweetlax, Dugan said. While Parlette is a great two-way middie, Dobson is a dominant, 6’5” lefty and they love playing with each other.
They’re joined by Dylan Hess, a Georgetown commit who Martin compared to Ryan Conrad. One of the special things Martin noted about the team is where they all call home. Parlette is from Orlando, Dobson is from a small school in the Jacksonville area and Hess hails from a larger school right outside the city. Meanwhile, defenseman Kaden Brothers and midfielder Marcelo Arteaga, both committed to Johns Hopkins, are from Vero Beach and Miami, respectively.
“The culture of that team is very much a positive one built around friendships and relationships,” Dugan said. They've grown up together and they've kind of put Sweetlax on the map and they've helped Florida lacrosse sort of on the map.”
Martin, who handles most of the recruiting duties for Sweetlax Florida, believes that the explanation of the recruiting process is something that the 2020 players and their families really appreciated. He dedicates his personal time to walk them through everything, and at this point, there are only four players on the team that are uncommitted, two of which are new to the program.
That’s just one of the ways Sweetlax Florida is investing in the growth and development of Florida lacrosse. Full-time coaches are being brought in to help with the RDPs and camps in an effort to really focus on the coaching, player, and team development pieces of the program, Dugan explained. At the end of the day, Sweetlax Florida wants to make sure it not only has the best players in the state, but they’re being coached and developed correctly so that they’re in the best possible position to be successful.
“We’re across the board looking at helping the state of Florida, from developing the top players in the state (and) having that attention to the grassroots component of it,” Dugan said. “We’re investing in coaching and staffing, which will enable us to better serve the Florida lacrosse community and better serve our players to their full potential.”
By Eric Black
Midway through the spring, 2023 Madlax DC Dogs head coach Matt Rienzo had a conversation with Colin “Mac” Christmas' father. The former Georgetown star wanted to move Christmas from a regular midfielder to a long-stick midfielder. His size and skillset, Rienzo explained, made him a perfect candidate to make the transition. But Christmas was hesitant to make the switch just yet.
A few weeks later, the DC Dogs found themselves down three defensemen due to injury. Christmas, with a long stick in his hands, went on to score three goals against Edge in their third game of the North American Lacrosse Summer Invitational. He finished the weekend with 7 goals and left his head coach shaking his head in awe.
“I coached Kyle Sweeney and Brodie Merrill at Georgetown,” Rienzo said. “Two of the best long-stick middies to ever play in my opinion, and (Christmas) has similar qualities. He’s exceptional.”
Christmas is one of the leaders on the 2023 DC Dogs, US Club Lacrosse’s No. 1 team in the class. Despite playing in just one tournament so far, the Dogs made sure it was a memorable one, going 6-0 in the NAL and finishing the run with a dominant 8-2 win over the No. 2 Annapolis Hawks. Coached by Rienzo, a Georgetown Hall-of-Famer who’s lined up next to by offensive coordinator Charlie Horning and Bob Dunn, the DC Dogs are one of the most impressive teams in the nation regardless of division.
Goalie Declan Monahan also stepped up during the Dogs’ undefeated slate. Thanks largely in part to his play, they averaged just 3.5 goals against per game, including three different contests in which they gave up just 2. Part of that defensive dominance can be attributed to their stellar ball-control, which is solidified by Jackie Weller's play at the face-off X. Rienzo believes Weller is one of the best face-off guys in the country in the age group and won over 75 percent of the face-offs during the tournament.
Colin “Barbecue” Burns is the quarterback of the team’s attack group, which reached double-digit goals in four out of their six games. He mostly plays behind the cage and is flanked by Caulley Deringer, a lefty wing player who has been a great addition to the team and Drew Stahley, a solid complementary player. But the Dogs’ strength lays in its midfield. It runs six deep, allowing for two different lines of high-caliber players on both sides of the ball.
“With our athleticism and depth, we'll find we wear teams out in the fourth quarter,” Rienzo said. “When we get in these tournaments where you're playing three games in a day, you get to that sixth game of the tournament and other teams are tired, we should hopefully still be able to be a little bit fresh because of how many people we play.”
While most teams with a high number of talented players may have trouble spreading the wealth around without getting selfish, that isn’t the case with the DC Dogs. Madlax’s CASE camp is a big reason for that. CASE, which stands for Character, Attitude, Success, and Effort, is taught to everyone in the program during the first week of the summer instead of playing in a tournament. Madlax founder Cabell Maddux has received his share of criticism for the decision, but he’s found it’s consistently paid dividends for his players on and off the field.
Now in its ninth year of existence, CASE has made teams’ play more fluid and recruiting way easier, Maddux said. While in the past some players believed that playing for Madlax meant they automatically were going to get recruited, that thought process is no longer allowed in Maddux’s program. If a player isn’t a good person off the field or isn’t doing the right thing, they’re cut from the team.
“There's plenty of good players, we had to start developing kids besides players,” Maddux said. “We know we're always gonna have enough athletes around here to develop the athlete, (but) let's develop the person too.”
In addition to the CASE camp, Madlax employs positional experts to coach players’ specific skill sets. For 30 to 45 minutes during each practice in the fall and early spring, Madlax players are split up into groups and coached by experts on face offs, goalies, shooting, dodging, and defense, among other areas.
The camps and coaching have also helped to prevent players from burning out. Past Madlax teams potentially played as many as 60 games a year, but are now down to about 30. For the 2023 Madlax DC Dogs, one of the best teams in the program, Maddux said, the new format is paying off.
“We won our first tournament because we were fresh. Some teams have already played in three or four tournaments,” Maddux said. “Those are the two things that differentiate us. One is our character piece, two is our emphasis on positional work, especially in the fall and winter.”
By Eric Black
MORRIS PLAINS, NJ — An air horn sounded, stopping all 80 players on all four fields in their tracks. The balls in play fell from their sticks or were shuffled to referees. Fist bumps and high fives were exchanged, and the players began to jog off in separate directions. It was time for the next set of games.
“Get in there and showcase yourself!” One parent chirped at his son, who had just finished the 20-minute game as an attackman. “You gotta be in shape.”
They were at the boys New Jersey Under Armour All-American tryouts at the Central Park of Morris County on Tuesday, the second and final day of the event. The tryouts are held every year to determine who will represent the state (one of 12 regions nationally) in the annual Under Armour All-American Lacrosse Classic Underclass Tournament. There, two divisions (“Command”, filled with rising freshmen and sophomores, and “Highlight”, made up of juniors and seniors) in each region for each gender will compete against one another for bragging rights and the regional title.
A total of 331 kids took part in the tryouts, called the “best recruiting event a kid can go to” in one of the videos on its website, and were broken up into 22 teams: six in the Command Division and 16 in the Highlight Division. The final selections, expected to be announced on Thursday, will feature just 23 players (two goalies and any combination of attack, midfield, and defense), on each team.
“As a past player, club coach and someone working in the lacrosse industry it’s truly amazing how many college coaches we “check-in” across the country for this event,” Ryan Corrigan, Director of Sales for Corrigan Sports, said. “If you’re looking to get recruited, the Under Armour Tryouts are a great way to be seen.”
Corrigan Sports has served as the operator for the tryouts since their inception, organizing the entirety of each massive event. That includes contacting and acquiring the 100+ coaches to serve as evaluators for each one, finding the venues large enough to hold them, and hiring officials, among other tasks. In doing so, Corrigan Sports’ main goal is to maintain objectivity among the evaluators and ensure that each event results in the best and most deserving players being selected.
While some players will be selected to one of the two 23-person teams, most of the boys won’t get that call. That doesn’t mean their two-day experience will have been useless, however. The games, scheduled to be 20-30 minutes long with a running clock, are set up to be fast-paced in order to showcase players’ skills. So even if a player isn’t selected to represent his region, he’ll still have had the chance to show dozens of college coaches (at the DI, DII, and DIII levels) what he has to offer.
“It would be really cool to represent New Jersey,” said one player trying out for the Highlight team. “But even if I don’t get picked, this was still a really cool experience.”
In addition to getting exposure at the tryouts themselves, some players will also have the opportunity to participate in newly-announced Under Armour All-American Call Back Academy. To be held on Nov. 8 and 9, the Call Back Academy will feature on-field instructional sessions, showcase games, and educational seminars.
The invite-only event, which is limited to 600 boys and girls, will be filled with the “best against the best”, as only players who were invited to their regional Call Back game and those that make the final team will be invited. In addition to the games and seminars, players will have the opportunity to speak with NCAA Compliance Specialists, Health and Nutrition Specialists, high-level college coaches.
For now, all eyes are on the results of the tryouts for the Underclass Tournament, which will be held later this month.
“Our tagline has always been “Rep Your Region,” Corrigan said. “The sense of pride that all of us carry for our hometown comes out through this tournament.”