In the past couple of weeks, LAS has had the pleasure of working with Coach Kirk Ventiquattro at the Rhino Lacrosse Academies. A truly accomplished coach and all-around great guy, Coach Ventiquattro encompasses the idea of ‘growing the game’ by traveling out west to help out at the Rhino Lacrosse camps each and every year.
Throughout both camps I attended, he was everywhere on the fields; organizing, directing traffic, coaching youngsters, and even lightening up the mood with the occasional joke. Coach V brings a ton to the table, both on and off the field. Check out a little bit of his résumé for starters:
– 9 time Frontier League Coach of the Year
– Section 3 Coach of the Year 1997
– Syracuse Post Standard Coach of the Year 2000
– Coached 12 High School All-Americans, 30+ Division 1 players, 100+ college level players
– 13 League Championships
– 5 Section 3 Championships
– 2 Upstate Championships
– 2 State Title appearances (2000 & 2002)
I sat down with Coach V to get his take on all things Rhino. Check out our conversation below!
Shaw: How long have you known Ryan Powell and his brothers? What makes them so special?
Kirk Ventiquattro: I met Ryan Powell the day I signed a contract at Carthage in January 1983. I pulled out of the school, West Carthage Elementary and I noticed a dog, a Beagle, pulling a 6 year old on a sled. The six year old was Ryan Powell! I snapped a picture, asked him who he was and told him I was his new Physical Education teacher. What makes him and his brothers so special is that they are great people first, way before they are great lacrosse players. Their story is the American Dream!
How long have you been working with RP at his camps?
Kirk Ventiquattro: I began working at camps back in the late 80’s. I started the Carthage Lacrosse Camp where the Powell’s participated and it wasn’t long before they weren’t attending my camps but working at them. Before I knew it, shortly after the Syracuse years for Ryan and Casey, I was working their camps!
I have now had a chance to visit and work in cities like Dallas, Texas; Whittier, California; West Linn, Oregon; Cheshire, Connecticut; West Point, New York; Seattle, Washington and some other places too!
How are Rhino Lacrosse Camps helping to ‘grow the game’ and advance lacrosse in the West?
Kirk Ventiquattro: To be honest, I am proud of what Ryan has accomplished in Portland, Oregon. I have been fortunate enough to be a small part of what he has done, that is him allowing me to be there a week or two every year. He has taken the Portland Lacrosse Community from infancy to being on the verge of explosion! His kids are well schooled on the game of lacrosse’s finer points. I marvel at their use of both hands and their knowledge and understanding.
Ryan has created a formula for success that could be used anywhere in country to advance the game of lacrosse. His principals of hard work, commitment, honoring the game and fundamentals are extraordinary! Ryan has now expanded into Boise, Idaho; Flagstaff, Arizona and Denver, Colorado to name a few. My advise to these communities is to “grab on to Rhino Lacrosse and don’t let it go!” I don’t know everything there is to know about lacrosse but I do know what “good lacrosse” looks like at every level, and that is what Ryan Powell is bringing West!
As someone who has coached 12 High School All-Americans, 30+ Division 1 players, and 100+ college level players, how would you rate the level of coaching that players receive at Rhino Lacrosse Academies?
Kirk Ventiquattro: Rhino Lacrosse Camps offer participants top level lacrosse taught by top level coaches presented in various ways all approved by Ryan Powell himself. Ryan is at the camp 100% of the time and though he can’t be everywhere at once at the camp he makes sure the principals, skills and knowledge are up to his standards in every way. He gets his hands dirty! He is right in the middle of everything and he makes sure every kid has not only a great time, but a chance to improve while at the camp, as well as takes home with them information to continue to take their game to “the next level”! My camp in Carthage over the past 20 years looks a lot like the Rhino Camp. The only real difference is Rhino can’t get back here most years!
At Rhino Lacrosse Camps, players are pushed to reach the next level by intense coaching, yet they’re also encouraged to develop a true passion for the game. Why is this so important?
Kirk Ventiquattro: Kids from every generation aren’t going to spend time participating in anything that isn’t fun. I think Ryan has figured out how to get a kid better, maintain the competitiveness and keep it fun at the same time. When the Powell Brothers were younger I saw them in their backyard competing at many of the “game within the game” pieces within situations they made up into competitions. Though the “battles” were competitive, the boys always had a smile on their face when their sticks were in their hands. Ryan has figured out how to impart his passion and love of the game to others.
To me, I still see Ryan and Casey “begin to glow” once they have a stick in their hands. Ryan is imparting that “magic” onto his campers and program participants. Regardless of the level they obtain, his kids “come to life” once they pick up their stick. We all know that the stick isn’t magical, though great players can make it look like it is; we all also know unless you “feel the magic” of the stick every time you pick it up, you will never reach the elite level because you won’t spend the time it takes with the stick without the magic!!
What is it about the camps that raises the bar and sets Rhino Lacrosse above from the rest?
Kirk Ventiquattro: Rhino Powell is the reason his camps are the best! If you get a chance to spend a week around the great game of lacrosse consider it. If you get a chance to spend a week with Ryan Powell at a Rhino Lacrosse Camp “grab on to it!” Grab the Rhino by the horns and let him take you for a ride. I promise you will be better for it. Better as a person, better as a player and like me, better as a human being for knowing my good friend and “brother in lacrosse” Ryan Powell!
What was your favorite memory from your experience with Rhino Lacrosse Camps this summer?
Kirk Ventiquattro: Let me tell you that I spend more time in laughter in the two weeks I am with Ryan than the entire rest of the year combined. Not to say I don’t laugh much, because I do! To me everything in life is funny. But when I hang with Ryan Powell everything in life becomes hilarious!
Maybe not my favorite memory, but an example of how it goes: I was telling Ryan the knock, knock joke about the interrupting cow. I said knock, knock, he responded who’s there, I said the interrupting cow. Now realize that I told him this joke each of the last 20 years I have known him because I am known to tell the same joke over and over again. Now before I get a chance to moooo while he is responding the interrupting cow who, he says “the interrupting cow who” so fast that I can’t interrupt him! Now maybe that isn’t funny to you and you may have had to be there, but to Ryan and I it was so funny we had to pull over his 1966 red Ford F-150 to laugh, or should I say cry! To us it was hilarious!
Thanks so much Coach V! It was a pleasure to spend a couple weeks with you. We had a blast being able to learn the game from one of the best.