Grow the Game®

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A Different Approach To Club Ball: NJ Riot 2016

I really do find the concept of elite club travel teams to be intriguing. Over the past decade, there has been an explosion of clubs, and many tout themselves as the “best way to get your kid onto a college lacrosse team“. For some, this may be true, but it simply can not be true for all the teams out there. So how do you know what you’re going to get out of one club team vs another?

Certain areas, often non-traditional places, only have one elite travel team and that makes the decision easy, but more established lacrosse areas can have 10 or more club teams call an area home. How does one pick the right fit?


In order to find out more about how club teams operate, especially in high density lacrosse areas, we’re going to follow ONE TEAM for the next three years, and report back with lessons learned, best practices, and observations from the club lacrosse scene, specifically in New Jersey.

The team we’ll be following is called the New Jersey Riot 2016. We chose this club partly because they are new, partly because they are doing things differently, and partly because the Riot is run by a guy who is as outspoken and passionate as they come: Lee Southren.

After Lee, and a number of other parents he knows, got frustrated with what they viewed as a murky system for evaluating players, and competing club programs, they decided to create a one-off club team for their kids, to make sure their children were served best. The feeling was that programs were more important than they players they served, and that by creating a one-off team, the interests of the kids would be kept at the forefront.

The goal was to create a SINGLE top flight team of 19 boys (all from the class of 2016) who will play together next Summer in 4 tournaments, and who will stick with this one team for the rest of their time in high school. They will be coached by the folks at FDU in Madison, NJ.

The mission of the NJ Riot 2016 is to take this one team through HS, and play in Summer, Fall, and Winter seasons, practicing and improving the whole way. Riot 2016 is operating as a family, keeping it small, and not for profit. If the team does lose a player for another season, the remaining current players will have a hand in who replaces them. Lee is operating as the GM and has set this team up AT COST, where all the money parents pay goes toward the expenses of the following, and not into the GM’s pockets:

Field rental
Tournament fees
Uniforms (see below for mock ups)

All of the boys are currently, or will be, going to recruiting Camps such as Jake Reed, 205, National 175, 225, 3D Bluechip, and will be representing the team and ideal, first and foremost.

As the team gels and solidifies, the Riot will also begin to formulate Grow the Game concepts, and how they can get involved in spreading our wonderful game, all while competing at a high level themselves. Down the line we will have blog entries from some of the players, and some of their parents. We’ll speak with their coaches, and follow this group around recruiting camps. We are going to dive deep into the world of club lacrosse, and the New Jersey Riot 2016 have handed us the keys.

It’s going to be an epic, information filled three years. So strap on your helmet, and get ready for the most in-depth look at the world of elite travel teams the planet has ever seen! The good, the bad, and the ugly… this series is guaranteed to have it all!