There may only be two major coaches conventions, but in my opinion, the event run by the IMLCA (Intercollegiate Men’s Lacrosse Coaches Association) is the only one you should make a point to attend if you’re a high school or college coach. Why?
Having been to both the US Lacrosse Convention (twice) and the IMLCA Convention (twice), I have noticed a couple of distinct differences, and these have informed my opinion on why I prefer the IMCLA Convention:
1) The IMLCA Convention in not a flea market…
Their vendor area is far smaller, more manageable, and features far less lower level product. That being said, if you’re a gear hound, go to the US Lacrosse convention. Every training trinket company imaginable will have a table set up amongst the big set ups.
2) Speakers are often coaches searching for jobs…
Speakers at the IMLCA are often times college assistant coaches who approach the presentations as interviews for future jobs. They are appropriately dressed, have ample video demonstrations, and are usually in the best of form. One year at the US Lacrosse Convention, a presenting team admitted they finalized their notes the night before after a long night at the bar. They used an overhead projector during their presentation. I have found the IMLCA delivers a bit more in many presentations.
3) Speakers take it seriously…
Speakers at the US Lacrosse Convention range from college coaches to high school coaches to professional athletes. As previously stated, you never know how seriously they took their preparation, and sometimes you get a gem, while other times… I would rather Brown’s head coach, Lars Tiffany, tell me about man down defense than a high school coach or MLL player talk about the game. I’ve heard more complaints about US Lacrosse Convention presentations than I have IMLCA presentations, and for me, the presentations are a big selling point.
4) Takes place right after NCAA conference meetings…
The IMLCA Convention takes place immediately following D1, D2, and D3 conference meetings, which means you’re likely to run into big time college coaches in the hallway. The number of college coaches at the US Lacrosse convention will be less because they simply don’t have to be there.
5) Keynote speakers are lacrosse specific…
Keynote speakers for the US Lacrosse Convention aren’t lacrosse folks. Bill Clement is speaking this year. I saw Lou Holtz speak a few years ago. Keynote speakers at the IMLCA are typically last year’s national champion. Duke’s John Danowski and Stevenson’s Paul Cantabene will each be speaking for an hour on Friday night. Can’t wait!
Can you learn something from the US Lacrosse Convention? Absolutely. But if you had a choice of attending one or the other, don’t think twice about picking the IMLCA convention.
If you’re going to the IMLCA convention this coming weekend, you’ll find me at the following presentations:
6pm – Paul Cantabene (Stevenson)
It will be a worthwhile presentation if he spends 3 seconds discussing face off technique. Anything about how he took Villa Julie from nothing and built them into Stevenson, the 2013 national champion, will be a bonus.
7:10pm – John Danowski (Duke)
Because John Danowski.
9am – Kip Turner (Brown), John Galloway (Providence), Adam Ghitelman (Harvard)
Sure all three are MLL goaltenders, but they’re also Division 1 assistant coaches. Do you think they spend more time being a D1 assistant or being a professional athlete? I want to learn about the drills they use to teach their kids.
10:15am – Lars Tiffany (Brown)
As a former attackman, I understand man up offense. As a former attackman, I don’t have the same grasp of man down defense as I do man up offense. If a D1 coach I greatly respect is discussing something that I would consider to be a weakness of mine, I’m going to be at that presentation.
*If I could be twice places at once, I would be front and center for Michigan assistant coach Ryan Danehy’s presentation on breaking down film. Danehy is one of my most favorite coaches in the game and someone I lean on heavily for offensive strategy and recruiting knowledge. Unfortunately, his discussion takes place during Tiffany’s man down talk, which is more critical to my development as a coach.
2:15 – JP Brazel (Hofstra)
Hofstra went 7-7 last year and were involved in five one goal games. That seems like a team that has to work really hard to manufacture goals under pressure. My high school team will be in the same position this spring. I’ve also never heard Brazel, a former Hofstra goalie, present. Greatly looking forward to hearing a fresh take on scoring the ball.
3:30 – Drew Delaney (Elizabethtown)
I like my practices to move fast. I send out practice plans in advance so players and coaches know what is coming so we don’t have to take time during practice to discuss what we are trying to accomplish. My belief is that we’re moving fast during practice and making things as challenging as possible for the players then game day will feel easy. I’m curious to learn how Delaney runs a fast practice.
*Ohio Wesleyan’s Mike Planholt is scheduled to speak at this time as well although his topic has not been announced. There could be a change of plans if his topic is very specific.
Sunday morning’s schedule features Scott Urick (District of Columbia) and Jim Rogalski (Lafayette). However, we have an American Revolution Scoring Academy Sunday night and will therefore miss one if not both presentations in order to avoid rushing the drive home. This places a greater emphasis on being dialed in during Friday and Saturday.
I’ll be tweeting throughout the weekend. Follow me @4onetwolax. Use the hashtag #laxcon if you’re also present.
I mentioned this in last year’s preview, and it’s a basic rule for coaches. Don’t drink too much and embarrass yourself in front of other coaches in the evening. Don’t drink so much that you cannot pay attention in presentations the next morning. Treat this like a business trip. Not a vacation.
MCLA teams need to set aside money to send their head coach to this weekend. If you’re really serious, you’ll send the head coach and at least one assistant. Last year, I saw coaches from Colorado State and St. Thomas. How did their 2013 seasons go?
Maybe these coaches even decided to pay their own way. That would let you know how important personal development is to them. Indiana paid for me to be there last year. We went 11-4 and were a goal away from going to the national tournament for the first time in program history. This is a critical weekend. MCLA teams need to understand the value of having a coaching staff that knows what they’re doing outweighs a matte grey Cascade R helmet.
Other MCLA schools in attendance: Colorado, Dayton, Grand Valley State, Missouri Baptist.
Feel free to bring a video camera. Get to a presentation early to set up.
Bring extra pens. You never know when someone important nearby is going to forget their writing implement.