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National Showcase: Face Off Guys EVERYWHERE!

Face offs have taken a couple of quantum leaps over the last number of years. There were always good face off guys out there, but the craft has never been practiced and studied as much as it is currently. We could still see some big changes in the future, but right now we’re approaching a face off man explosion in the college ranks. Since the numbers seem to be swelling, who better to talk to than a guy who just ran a National Showcase featuring face off athletes from all over the country?

Greg Gurenlian answered the call, and after we got through a little Faceoff Academy National Showcase recap, we got into some of the details on how the world of the face off man is rapidly changing.

I know you were excited for this event… so how did it go?

To say that it was a success is a huge understatement man. Our first National Showcase and we had 77 athletes from every corner of the country. The talent and effort was extraordinary. The players, parents and coaches in attendance have been relentless with positive feedback via email and phone. We’re ecstatic.

Where were most of the best athletes coming from?

The most athletes came from NJ. But we had some shocking performances from LA, Florida, St. Louis, Michigan and Minnesota.

How many of these kids are destined to be D1 lacrosse players?

We’ll have to wait and see. We have to remember there are only about 60 or so D1 spots. It’s not fair to a parent to tell them “You’re kid is a D1 product” just to try and milk them for their money. We brought in Coach Sheridan of Denver and Coach Madalon from Princeton to talk to the players and parents honestly and openly about the recruiting process. What to look for, how to approach it and the pitfalls of a lot of these “cash grab” events that are prevalent in lax these days. There are a ton of great D2, D3, and club schools that these kids may fit better at based more on their personalities and future aspirations.

Could you have beaten the best kids at the national event back when YOU were in high school?

When I was in HS? I would have been lucky to beat half of these players. I taught myself to face off. Now as a 29 year old All-Pro, these guys are using the techniques and skills I use TODAY. They would have wiped the floor with a 16 year old Greg.

Did any of the kids do anything that blew you away? Did you learn anything new about face offs during the weekend?

These players blew us away with their intense focus. Literally we would teach them something and they would hammer at it until it was perfect. When the college coaches spoke to them they asked very impressive and very mature questions. These kids loved being there and they meant business. Will Fox, our overall champion, is going to be a serious force at Fairfield next year.

Where has the art of face offs gone in the last 3 years. The last 10 have been a revolution, but what has happened in the last couple years?

The revolution has been fascinating. 10 years ago the “FoGo” became big. A guy who sits on a knee and gets the ball but can barely play “lacrosse”. Now the game has changed. No horns, quicker game play. Elite coaches aren’t interested in FoGos. They want ATHLETES. Players that can excel at the X while helping the team in other ways without being a liability. Players have to be better, and they have to be smarter.

What would happen if the face off rules were changed again? How would you and the FOA react?

We didn’t care about the idea of eliminating moto grip because great athletes adapt. We applaud the NCAA for cracking down on cheating. We applaud the NCAA for moving the hands completely off of the plastic. The final move that would perfect the X play is to add another referee up there (right now there is just one) and to have referees hold the space between down and set. And have a quick whistle after set. We have found that this is the best way to make the draw fair and eliminate “rolling into the draw” it also cuts down on players false starting.

The days of cheating are coming to an end and we’re happy about that. The three of us have dedicated our lives to this position and to this sport and our goal is to reprogram the youth players who are being taught to cheat by so called “experts” and coaches that don’t care. Anything that will keep the face off clean so the real athletes can flourish is awesome in our books.