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Making Elite Recruiting Events Truly Elite

0 - Published March 11, 2014 by in High School, Interviews

A decade ago, there were only a handful of truly elite recruiting camps and tournaments. If you wanted to be seen by top level coaches, and play against the best, this small number of events were where you wanted to be. Fast forward to today, and it seems like there are more recruiting events than there are recruits!

This phenomenon of camps and events growing in number and size had me intrigued, and while I had discussed it with a number of people, most just said how hard it was to find the right event nowadays. Enter Adrenaline’s Black Card and Platinum events… I got a press release from our partner, Adrenaline, and from what they sent over, it seemed like they were actually cutting back on the number of teams and players.

I had to learn more about their different approach to these events, so I spoke with Jono Zissi and Geoff Worley of Adrenaline to get the full scoop.

There are a lot of tournaments out there nowadays, and yet Black Card seems to be keeping its numbers down, while keeping the talent level high. Why is Black Card turning into a smaller style of event?

In a market that has become overwhelmed with a myriad of different showcase events, charging astronomical amounts, bringing in marginal talent at times, and promising the world, we really sought to differentiate ourselves from the others. Black Card is bringing together the top 114 players on 3 side-by-side fields, providing for maximum exposure, while keeping the event “at-cost,” with all of the proceeds going directly to charity. This event is mutually beneficial to both the recruits and the recruiters.

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How have you been able to get so many of the nation’s top club programs to get involved? Politics can make this tough, and often accounts for the spread of talent to different events. How did you overcome this obstacle?

We will be running the Black Card event in conjunction with the newly formed Adrln Platinum Cup. Platinum Cup is comprised of 8 of the top club lacrosse programs in the country (LI Express, Team 91, Dukes, Mesa Fresh, West Coast Starz, True, Sweetlax and Laxachussetts). The foundation of the Black Card event will be built and supported around the best players from each of the aforementioned clubs, as well as players from other top clubs not directly involved in Platinum.

How will the aforementioned players from non-hotbed areas be able to get involved?

The Adrenaline Evaluation Team (AET) has compiled a comprehensive list of top talent from all areas of the country and has also reached out to their trusted networks of college, high school, and club coaches for recommendations. We have players coming to the event from 26 states as well as Canada.

What does the move to Rutgers do for the event? Why is it important to be on the East Coast?

The event has been on the East Coast since it began back in 2012, however, the move to Rutgers is a big one. A world class University, with 9 state of the art, beautifully manicured and lighted fields, creates the perfect environment for our field staff and operations groups to set up all of the logistics that go in to running a first class event.

Rutgers is easy to get to for all players and recruiters as it is centrally located and this venue will be able to smoothly accommodate the large volume of people Saturday and Sunday as it will host the Adrln Platinum Cup tournament, with each club bringing their national team from 2015 down to 2019, for what is certain to be the most competitive championship style team event of the summer.

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What types of coaches will be present?

We have received tremendous support from the college coaching community on our new endeavor, both the creation of the Platinum Cup and the move to Rutgers. The Black Card, now in its 3rd year, has firmly established itself as a “must-attend” among the recruiter community.

What benefit do the West Coast players get from this event?

Western players who are selected for the Black Card event will get a chance to prove their metal against the best of the East Coast, and in front of a tremendous lineup of recruiters. The West Coast Starz teams joining the Platinum Cup will have a wonderful opportunity to compete and represent western lacrosse against the most formative lineup of East Coast clubs. West Coast Starz is the only western club with access to Black Card or the Platinum tournament, which is an enormous differentiator.

Can you explain how this event isn’t for profit? What is the charity element, and how does that work?

I won’t go into details beyond what the actual monetary donation is from Adrenaline, but with goods included this event is very well into the red for us, which is what we want. The goal is to raise awareness for a charity by focusing on the top athletes in the High School game and the best college coaches.

Beyond the expenses, Adrenaline donates $10,000 directly to the charity and we ask the players to also donate on their own. We put up signage around the event trying to solicit donations on site. The recruiters will be purchasing their books at a nominal fee, that will all go towards the charity as well.

Lastly, a percentage of on-site vending sales throughout the Black Card and Platinum Cup events will go to the charity. Anyone who wants to donate should check out the donation page and get involved.

Is there a benefit to having multiple age groups all competing at one event, and on one weekend?

Absolutely. The Platinum Cup will have each club’s national teams per grade on hand. From a club director point of view, it’s really exciting to have that family atmosphere created when the Middle School teams get to be on the sideline to watch their idols on the High School teams and get to see what that level of play, speed, and competition look like, so they have a frame of reference for what they can strive for.

It really creates a tremendous sense of camaraderie and pride for each specific club and the geographic region they represent. It also gives the Middle School parents their first glimpse of what a high level recruiting event looks like as that process seems to be starting earlier and earlier.

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What does the future hold for Black Card? Can other club programs get involved in the future, or is the roster of clubs set in stone?

The future of Black Card is really to continue to bring together the most talented, uncommitted players in the country and keep the price at-cost and the numbers low. We hope to continue to outfit and adorn the participants with custom gear (Cascade helmets, Maverick gloves, Adrln apparel and lifestyle wear) to reward them for a job well done. We also hope to continue to raise awareness and money for a tremendous charitable cause (American Prostate Cancer Fondation).

The Platinum Cup is comfortable as an 8 team boutique entity. There is a small chance we would expand to 10 teams, but only if the right two clubs came along, otherwise it will stay at 8 for the near and distant future.

I’d like to thank Jono and Geoff for taking some time to answer these questions so in depth. From the sound of things, Black Card and Platinum are going to be some of the top events for Summer 2014. It’s interesting to see how these events are smaller, and make less money (or even lose money) but how they are also becoming staples on the recruiting tour.

In a time when there are often over 400 kids at “Top 200″ level camps, it’s good to see a company keeping certain events small, instead of turning them into cash cows. I am also impressed with just how far Adrenaline will go to make sure that their West Coast Starz program gets to play against the best. It’s a smart move from the company, and it benefits their players immensely.

By involving other top club programs directly (with players they don’t compete for), Black Card should remain strong for years to come. I don’t expect  LI Express or Dukes to start slowing down any time soon, do you? Overall, this big blowout event is good for the kids who play in it, it’s easy for college coaches, and it gives Adrenaline a primetime event to show off. Everyone who is involved seems to be winning.

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