NJ Riot lacrosse 2017
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Club Directors Panel: Do rivalries exist on the summer circuit?

The summer tournament circuit is over. Tryouts for next season have already begun which means the second season of the Club Directors Panel is here.

Webster Dictionary defines rivalry as a state or situation in which people or groups are competing with each other, then surely there are rivalries between lacrosse clubs despite players regularly switched teams and the compressed time frame of the summer and fall circuits.

If you’re on the road enough over the summer, there’s a good chance that you’ll compete against the same club more than once and even a club from the same region. Mix the phrase, “familiarity breeds contempt,” with 90 degree weather and stressed out parents and you could have a very exciting forty minute contest.

To kick off Season 2 of the Club Directors Panel, we asked our participants if rivalries did in fact exist and whether or not they got a sense that their boys really wanted to win certain games more than others.

JC Valore – SouthShore (New Jersey)

As a program based in southern NJ, it allows us to attend some of the best events in the country multiple times without major travel.  With other high level club programs wanting to attend the same events, we face the chance of playing a team more than once in the summer.  As a staff, we truly believe rivalries develop between particular programs, but more specifically over time, between individual grade level teams.  We ourselves have local rivals, not based on simply geography, but for the mere fact that when we face these particular teams, it is always a memorable game that the players hold as a must win situation.

We do enjoy playing teams from other regions of the country, but regardless, we want to always put our players in a position to play the best.  If that means playing the same club team at almost every tournament, we find that as a positive.  The teams we play are well known nationally, as are most of their players.  Our players take pride in going against teams of this caliber. They understand a major goal of our program is to challenge them to get better. We feel playing the best competition is essential to allow that goal to come to fruition.

The great thing about our sport, is the sense of a rival, especially in the summer.  It definitely is not an enemy or a program you do not like.  It is a program that you respect and want to go against.  Whether it is to prove something to a team from your immediate area or a different part of the country. The coaching staff will have mutual respect for each other, and most likely the directors of the programs are friends of ours while on the summer circuit.  Building relationships is crucial in sustainability and growth. With like minded programs wanting the best competition for themselves, we feel it gives our players the best opportunity to shine.

When it comes to hyping up our players, many times, little words are needed.  We obviously want to show well in all of our games.  Yet, against certain teams, things are simply understood and expected.  With the opposing team having just as much to offer as our own regarding perceived talent and ability, players take it upon themselves to make things personal.  Through time, these teams do get to know each other.  Our rising seniors may have faced a particular “rival” many times.  As the summer circuit ended, there definitely was excitement felt at particular games simply because of who was wearing the other jersey.  As long as these rivalries feel more like relationships, then we feel the tournaments and programs will continue to flourish.

Martin Kupprion – NXT (Pennsylvania)

There are definitely rivalries on the summer club circuit.  For one, there are so many great lacrosse players and good club lacrosse programs in the Philly area that everybody knows each other well.  Players in our area are fortunate to have opportunities to play on teams like Dukes, Headstrong, Mesa, LB3 and others.  The boys and coaches are connected and always look forward to some good backyard competition, whether it really is in our backyard or we meet at a tournament in a different state.  On the national level, social media has increased the awareness that players, coaches and entire programs have of one another.  With the more recent promotion of individuals and teams through highlight films, recruiting rankings and published college commitments, gone are the days of sneaking up on somebody because you’re from a different state. 

Since we run and go to most of the best events in the country, we embrace the high level of competition we face and enjoy not only playing against, but also learning from clubs that have been around longer than us and are doing things the right way.  Since our inception in 2010, we’ve enjoyed battles with clubs like Titanium, Laxachussetts, Fighting Clams and Team 91.

Jay Fox – Ottawa Capitals

Rivalries definitely exist. We consider our club brothers in Canada like Evolve, Edge Canada and Northern to be rivals. Also Sweetlax in Upstate NY.

We have a huge amount of respect for what they do but no question our boys get fired up to play them. As a club we play on it with our uniform selection. We have reversible shorts and pinnies..black and lime green…..if you ever see us in all green it is either a Championship Game or what we call a “rivalry” game. The boys love it…we love it…we have fun with it….we like to recognize the rivalry…we don’t pretend it isn’t there…we celebrate it.

Andy Kay – Founders Lacrosse (Missouri) 

Our kids crave competition, so regardless of if a “rivalry” exists or not, you better believe that they find a way to create one. With such a short circuit, it is tough to build the camaraderie that HS teams can build throughout the course of the long spring season. We find that one of the quickest ways to create the bond within a team is to make them feel like they have something to prove to everyone. Fortunately for us, we come from a non hotbed area, so it is easy to talk about how they must make a name for Missouri and how teams from other regions overlook us. This gives us the chip on our shoulder, and allows our kids to dig deep when their backs are against the wall.

There also is already a pretty strong Chicago vs. Saint Louis rivalry in place in hockey and baseball, so we try to play that up a bit when we meet our in region foes. We have had a tremendous amount of success locally, and our kids understand that the better we play, the likelier we are to maintain our reputation and therefore keep or acquire more talent. It’s kind of like a snowball rolling down the hill, the more snow it rolls over, the bigger and badder that snowball becomes.

Lee Southren – New Jersey Riot

I think that the rivalries are created due to the local competition that exists in a specific area. A lot of kids in New Jersey play for different clubs though they go to same school. One would think that there would be a monopoly in some places, but there isn’t. Thus, we have about four clubs that love to play each other and year to year see what happens. Rumor has it that the club that wears orange, navy, and white has made some real head way and will be very dangerous to play. Additionally, because some kids switch clubs, there is a natural inclination to want to beat the place you left.
Webster’s definition of a rivalry is a little broad for my taste when it comes to applying the term to professional and collegiate fandom. I believe a rivalry only exists between teams that have regularly and recently beaten each other in the playoffs. (The only exception of course would be college football.) By my standards, the Flyers and Penguins are a rivalry. The Steelers and Ravens are not.
Because of an ever shifting tournament schedule, the American Revolution hasn’t formed any rivalries regardless of whose definition you’re using.  However, I do really enjoy competing against Anthony Crimmins’ Dallas Select program.
He is recently engaged (Congratulations!) and spending some time in Greece, otherwise we would have expected him to contribute to this week’s panel. We’ve only beaten them once (Denver two falls ago) and played them once in the playoffs (UNC last summer). Their coaches are knowledgable and very passionate. The players are talented and compete for the full game. We know they’re going to bring it and I appreciate that.

Catch up on previous Club Directors Panels:

How to Email a College Coach

Tournament Selection

Early Recruiting & Coaching Staff Alignment

What makes a club lacrosse program successful?

Club versus High School 

Managing Expectations

Hope for Late Bloomers?

Team Selection

Want to talk recruiting, club teams, tournaments or camps? Leave a comment in the comments section or tweet me at @4onetwolax or @AmRevolutionLax.