Hey guys, as you know I’ve been really busy on the lax camp circuit this summer. Last week, I was at Lax Evo’s Pinnacle Lacrosse Camp at the Valley Forge Military Academy, home of some of the nation’s bravest individuals (for working towards an education to protect our freedoms that we get to enjoy every single day). Valley Forge Military Academy was also the former college of NFL Wide Receiver Larry Fitzgerald. I had an incredible time. The staff was comprised of some great counselors, with everyone from former and current pro players, current D1 and D3 athletes and many others. And to add to this, the campers were a great group of skilled lacrosse athletes. Campers walked away from this camp not only as better lacrosse players but as better young men too… and they even left with some hilarious stories surrounding the Bridgeport/Philadelphia Barrage’s (folded MLL team) road trips way back when to tell their friends.
Check in was at 8am at the entrance to the campus, so the other counselors and myself showed up at 7am ready to go. As we’re unloading nets and just making sure everyone knows their jobs, guess who shows up? Our little guy with his custom Lax Evo/LAS helmet wrap, Marty and his dad. Just a bit early don’t ya think, bud? All Jokes though, as we were so pleased to have Marty back at a Lax Evo camp!
Soon after more and more campers showed up with their parents and over-packed vehicles. Some kids actually showed up with flat screen TVs and XBox 360s… there were even mini fridges with enough food to supply a small platoon. Kids these days. Got to love them! Some counselors continued to check campers in and get the kids their room assignments while the rest of us helped parents carry their kids stuff to the barracks, which they would call home for the next few days.
As this is going on I had kids constantly coming up to me going “coach when’s our first session?” What? They didn’t say coach when is lunch, or coach where is the pool… but, “coach, when is our first session?” These kids were here to work and I LOVED the enthusiasim. It makes coaching that much more enjoyable when the kid has a desire to improve their game any way they can.
After all the kids moved in and the parents left, we went to go have our first meal before our first lax session. So we headed over to the mess hall and when I say a “mess hall”, I mean it was a “mess hall”. After all, Valley Forge is a military academy. Flags from all different countries lined the sides of the mess hall, all of which were donated by cadets from that respective country. So everyone fueled up, headed back to the dorms and headed out to the fields, which were a good hike away. The walked allowed campers and counselors to take in the beautiful scenery of the campus along the way. (You can see a brief clip of the walk over in the highlight video at the end of this post).
We arrived at the field, Doc addressed the campers and we quickly got into drills. When you build a house, you need to start with the foundation so that’s exactly where we started. Basic line drills started the camp off so we could see how all the kids did and see if any kids needed to move up or down an age group at all. I must say I was very impressed by some of these kids. Just about all of the campers had both hands down to catch, throw etc. It was a very encouraging place to start.
Doc (Brian Dougherty) took the goalies to what looked like a shooting range, with nets lining the bottom of the hill. Goalies did their stretches and then had kids in rotation into these nets to take shots from some goalie counselors and some campers, with coach Doc and Kennan looking for anything to critique the kids on. Throughout the weekend he would shape these kids into amazing goalies, which I witnessed all weekend long. They spent a lot of time over there taking shots, working on technique, etc. and would be thrown into drills or scrimmages as needed. Every goalie got their money’s worth of work this weekend, that much is certain! And getting coached by a legend like Doc ain’t too shabby either!
As for me and the rest of the offensive counselors we went into dodging, going over all the essentials and then put these kids to work by setting up separate stations for each dodge. Once again, we had very skillful dodgers which was nice to see so it seemed like with each group of kids I just had to critique some small things in relation to their attempt. I stepped in to play D on each group just to make sure they were working in a game situation and practiced dodging with some pressure on them.
Defense… not exactly sure what they did, but they probably schemed more ways to terrorize attackman. Many of these kids also had the skill set to do so coming in, but going up against skilled offensive players set the stage for interesting match-ups all weekend. And elevating the players’ game is what it’s all about!
After the dodging stations we let the three offensive groups pick their group names which led to the younger guys picking “Champs”, the older guys… actualy I dont quite remember what they picked, but the middle guys picked “Biddy Swag District”. Don’t ask, I still don’t know. I guess I’m getting old.
Coach Eddinger (F/O coach for Chestnut Hill) and Coach Christmas talked a bit about groundballs and had some little GB battles. All just a practice for a GB contest we’d have on day 3. We do love GB contests!
WOOZLE SPOTTING!? This kid seemed like an aspiring Woozle, so I told him I needed to snag a pic. What do you Woozles think?
We then headed back to the dorms to relax a bit, get some grub and then head back out for the evening session. There Johnny Christmas gave a pep talk to some of the kids to get them ready for the next session. He then did dynamic stretching with the kids which is always a treat for athletes when their coaches volunteers themselves for the same drills they go through.
After warm ups we got into 1 on 1’s, 2 on 1’s and fast breaks. There’s tons of great footage from these drills in the highlight video so check it out, do I really gotta say it again? It’s at the end of this post!
We finished the day off with full field scrimmagess for each age group and we even messed with the Montville goalie a bit before we headed back to the dorms. He was staying in net a bit longer to get help from Austin Kaut, current goalie for Penn State and you just gotta see for yourself what happens at 5:19 of the highlight video.
By the way, a big shout out to Matt H. That night he hit his head in his room and suffered a bit of memory loss. Our great AT Drew ran a bunch of tests just to monitor his health at the time and Austin Kaut and myself brought him to the hospital and stayed with him until he was cleared to go. This tough little guy not only felt better but wanted to play the next day, and with clearence from the doctor was able to do so. Way to stay tough dude… or crazy, I guess that’s why you’re a goalie. But I’m glad we kept the priorities on safety! That’s the right way to run a camp!
Due to a family event I couldn’t attend day 2. Sorry guys = Heard it was awesome though. Not a huge surprise there!
At Lax Evo we always keep it entertaining so it’s no surprise that Coach Eddinger got a hold of a speaker and had techno going for the entire morning session. The goalies quickly bought into it and started fist pumping during stretching.
After line drills we had Coach Garzia (Assistant Coach at Cabrini) give the little guys a lesson in shooting on the run.
The talk was followed by shooting on the run drills, 2 v 2 groundball drills, which were then followed by a gb contest. Winner got an Encore hat, which is John Christmas’ new up and coming clothing brand, which benefits different organizatins in the community. Read more towards the end of this post where I will explain it a little bit more and let you know where you can get some of the apparel. (GB Finals for the middle group can be found in the highlight video.)
The evening session was cancelled due to rain. So instead the kids enjoyed a little recovery time at the rec center. Kids got to play billiards, ping pong, air hockey, video games or a favorite among many including myself…watching Shark Week in the movie theater at the rec center. They had a beautiful mini movie theater set up with real movie theater seats and a big screen. I rocked the LaxAllSharks jersey that day just to add to the thrill of the shark week viewing.
Time to rest up for the last day of camp.
This was it, the last day. Check out began at 12 so we only had one session. One last and final session for the laxers to show us what they have learned. We got them into line drills and then straight into our scrimmages. In the meantime Doc and Ryan Cranston took some shots on Austin. These little goalies got to see a d1 goalie at work, and it was impressive.
Once again these kids never ceased to amaze me. I saw everything from solid goaltending (my goalies played a half each and only let 1 goal in), solid defense and a very skilled, team-oriented offense. It was a great way to end the camp: On a high note! And not because of the score but because of how well everyone played. It made you feel like they took away a lot from this camp and in the end thats all that matters.
We headed back to the dorms packed up our things and headed down to the bleachers for last thoughts and awards. Afterwards we said our goodbyes and parted ways. It was a great camp with tons of memories and one I hope to work in the years to come. Thanks to everyone for making it a great week!
Before I go I just wanted to tell you guys to check out Encore Brand Clothing. It’s John Christmas’ new line of clothing and shoes. I hadn’t heard about the clothing line until that camp so I had to ask what it was all about and this is what Christmas had to say about it. “Encore Brand is a company I started that focuses on fashion mixed with social consciousness. We are focused on creating a lifestyle brand that will reflect a lifestyle in which people are conscious about doing their part to help organizations out there that are making a difference. I think with the recent explosion of lacrosse, similiar to the late 70’s early 80’s with skateboarding and other action sports, it’s a perfect platform to use my influence in the game to enact some social consciousness through some dope clothes and shoes”. Check out the site www.encorebrand.com.
You can see Christmas rocking one of his shirts during dynamic stretches on day 1.
Make sure you guys check out the site and help Christmas help others with his new clothing line.
Check out the highlight video from the week below and let me know what you think. Like I’ve said before it’s nothing like what Josh Lane is doing but I believe it’s my best work yet.
So just leave some feedback below the recap and highlight video. Believe me guys I appreciate it!
This week, I am up at Pro Lax Lacrosse Camp at the Golden Goal Tournament Park in Fort Ann, NY to coach my last camp of the summer. That runs Monday through Thursday so keep it here for a full recap this weekend. I’m also headed to Chesepeake that Saturday to cover the Bayhawks v Outlaws game from the sidelines, so make sure you check back for that post. My goal is to get some great photos, some video and hopefully a couple of interviews from both teams. Exciting week ahead of me. Till next time guys!