Summer Select/Tournament Teams

Posted: March 22, 2012 in HRLax, US Lacrosse
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What to do when the season ends? I have been a lacrosse dad for over a dozen years and every year seems to get more and more complicated for our summer options. The number of summer tournament teams, camps, and clinics are multiplying and the sign-up dates seem to move up each year. If you are a lacrosse parent and your son wants to play lacrosse this summer you have a lot of options. Unfortunately because of the growing number of summer programs it is becoming increasingly harder to do, and because of the competition among summer teams, camps, and clinics there really does not appear to be any one source for information. Please bear with me as I attempt to share some of our experiences and hopefully provide enough information to allow you to make good decisions.

Several years ago our youth programs in Roanoke, VA would offer summer options that were generally composed of players from several teams. Most of the time our coaching staff put together the team, collected the fees, provided a summer jersey and off we went. Another great component of that model was that other coaches from the area would all work together to build and coach the team. Generally, we played a couple of tournaments that were very rewarding for both players and parents. Most of the tournaments that we attended were in the Baltimore metro area and were organized by local lacrosse clubs.

One year we even had a college head coach helping which in conjunction with our coaches enabled us to have a highly competitive team. That year we played a team from Texas for the championship on a Sunday in Cockeysville, MD for our bracket in 100 degree temperatures. We lost by 1 in one of those classic buzzer beaters. Our boys were disappointed with the loss but that didn’t last long. Our boys were so excited to have achieved such an accomplishment and did so with players that they had competed against during the regular season coached by coaches that were unfamiliar to them and in most cases had previously competed against each other. Bonds were formed and most continue to this day. What I remember most was the sense of camaraderie that resulted between parents, coaches, and players regardless of the team.

Another component of that chapter of our lacrosse lives was summer lacrosse camps. Through the years we attended many camps but one of the most memorable was the camp conducted at Roanoke College in Salem, VA. Youth players from our area as well as others converged every summer to attend the camp conducted by coaches from all over, including several of our coaches. The kids were formed into teams and every night the parents would head over to watch them play before heading off to Mac n’ Bob’s across the street for food and “fellowship”. Again,  bonds were formed and relationships were forged that continue today in high school and college. Competitors and teammates working together for mutual benefit.

Today the options are more complex particularly for those players at the high school level. The growth in our sport is exponential and teams are not only conducting try-outs but recruiting players from other states. I spoke with a coach in Virginia yesterday that told me that some of the kids he coached have already committed to playing for summer select/tournament teams in Pennsylvania and New York after being recruited by those teams. It’s game on folks and the stakes are high as many teams enter into college recruiting tournaments and the process starts in the 9th and 10th grade. What is significant is the fact that not every team is limited to college recruiting, many are dedicated towards improving skills and making players better for the regular season and there are dramatic differences between summer teams. Parents and players need to decide on their objectives before choosing a summer team because not all teams will have the same objectives.

In our area there are three really good options for summer/select/tournament teams. Team Venom, Peninsula Patriots, and Ironclads all coached by experienced and knowledgeable coaches. There are links to those teams on the left-hand side of this page to connect you with them. Team Venom was formed last year and has done extremely well, while the Patriots and the Ironclads have been in existence longer and have excellent coaches and reputations. Those coaches can also make recommendations on camps and clinics suited to your son’s position and skill level.  Two of my sons aged 15 & 17 will be doing the summer circuit with Team Venom. My 17 year old participated with Team Venom in the inaugural season and it was a very positive experience although we did attend one tournament that was less than desirable, Team Venom will not be participating in that tournament again.

Here’s my advice:

  • Do your homework, check out each team
  • Look at the credentials of the coaching staff
  • Determine your needs and objectives of your player and discuss them with the coaches
  • Ask your current coach for their recommendations as they will probably be in the best position to understand your player’s skill level
  • Break out the checkbook, summer programs are not cheap and travel expenses can add up quickly.
  • As with anything that becomes immensely popular, money will enter the equation and it takes money to support this game. My strongest advice is to make sure that you are truly getting what you pay for, is your student/athlete getting a lacrosse experience that benefits them?
  • Most importantly, if your current coach threatens to withhold playing time next season because your son chooses to play a summer/select team that is not of his choosing you probably have a coach that does not have your players best interests in mind. It has been my experience that coaches are highly supportive of summer programs regardless of whether or not they are actively involved because in most cases they benefit from the experience gained when your player returns next season.
  • Equally important is not to accept the excuse that the summer programs conflict with “Fall Ball”. In this area most of the fall tournaments are “fun” tournaments and designed primarily to “keep the rust off” and promote the sport. Many serve as fundraising opportunities for area clubs/leagues and offer the chance to get together with players, coaches, officials, and parents.  The summer programs that I mentioned generally conclude their seasons in August and do not conflict with “Fall Ball”

I am not an authority on lacrosse; however, I am relentless in obtaining the information that benefits the players and the game and willing to share what I learn. Over the years I have made at least one bad choice that I now regret with respect to lacrosse, fortunately which was not fatal. I  I have discovered there is a wealth of information available related to our sport and I have also discovered that the overwhelming majority of coaches are totally supportive of the game, have our players best interests in mind and action, are totally collaborative while maintaining an abundance mentality,  while a minuscule minority cling to a scarcity mentality and avoid collaboration and seem only interested in their own egotistical pursuits.

I have found that there is no definitive source of information related to lacrosse but I have come to rely upon the information that US Lacrosse the governing body of lacrosse shares and that information has been very beneficial in my lacrosse education. I have also spent considerable time discussing lacrosse with college coaches, high school coaches, officials, and supporters of the game. I recently completed my level one coaching certification although I have never played the game and I am the elected Vice President of the York Lacrosse Club, a non-profit entity devoted to building and supporting both girls and boys high school lacrosse in York County. Players in the Williamsburg area are eligible for that team and it is our fervent desire to build a high school team in Williamsburg for the 2013 season.

This year we formed a high school boys team that competes in the Hampton Roads Chapter of US Lacrosse of which more than half of our players have never played the sport. Our newly formed team played it’s first official game against a very good Grassfield team to a 3 -3 tie. On Friday, March 23rd will scrimmage Walsingham Academy at 5:00 pm at the Warhill Sports Complex and we urge parents to come out and support both teams.

I hope that you have found this to be useful information and I welcome your comments.

Odor Gladiator

Comments
  1. JEason says:

    Great Message! Team Venom has been a great experience for our son. The Coaches know all aspects of the game and want your child to be successful! My eldest son really benefited from the experience last summer! We are excited for what this summer brings and our youngest son will be joining Team Venom on the U13 team. Go Team Venom!

  2. Katy says:

    Great Article! I am from a non-traditional lacrosse area and am a Division I coach as well as a club owner. I have found that parents in our area do not do the necessary research to find the best fit for their athlete. What is more disappointing, is that club owners/coaches do not do the due diligence to provide accurate and up to date recruiting/college information. Sounds as if your area is doing a great job! Congrats! We are reposting on our club site!

    • Katy,

      Thank you very much for your comments and advice for parents and student/athletes. We really appreciate your time and your feedback.

      Have a Great Lacrosse Day!

      Mark