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Summer Branding: My Crazy Schedule

Hey everyone!

You may remember me from my ‘Branded’ interviews.  Sorry to end that series so abruptly but I had to focus on my coaching duties at Centenary College and Caddo Magnet High School. Now that both of those respective teams seasons have come to an end (both with winning records but without championships) I would like to give you a glimpse of the second season of the lacrosse calendar. The summer camp/tournament/recruiting showcase circuit has absolutely exploded in the past few years. Back in my day (ew I feel old saying that) we went to about one camp a summer and played in a couple tournaments. Nowadays the youthful laxers have become road warriors and lax to the max. I will be chronicling my travels for the loyal readers of LAS. Get ready for a wild ride.

Before I share my laundry list of events for the summer I would like to share with you what I have been up to since my season(s) ended.

On May 1st I traveled south to Lafayette Louisiana to coach in the Louisiana High School Lacrosse League’s annual all star game. Two of my student athletes, Patrick Connor and Connor Dunlap started in the contest and helped the West to a convincing win. After the all star game was the La. state championship game between St Thomas More of Lafayette and Brother Martin of New Orleans.  The cougars of STM represented the western district well with their second straight state championship. Coach Guidroz has built a dynasty from scratch, but were coming for the title in twenty twelve!

Mike Brand Summer Branding
My all-stars Connor "C-Bird' Dunlap and Patrick "PC" Connor and I

A week later I took another trip south but this time it was to Houston Texas (actually the suburbs which was literally 45 minutes outside of downtown) and the Texas High School Lacrosse League Division 1 and 2 final fours. Texas lacrosse has been on the map for a while now but the level of lacrosse would have satisfied even the biggest northeastern snob. In the semis the brackets were set up a bit different. In the D2, the four lacrosse regions of TX (Dallas, Austin, Houston and San Antonio) were represented with Hillcrest, Stony Point, Clear Lake and the Texas Military Institute. The D1 was much different (readers feel free to decipher the reason) with four Dallas area teams, Coppell, Episcopal School of Dallas, Dallas Jesuit and St. Mark’s battling it out with one school surprisingly absent in Highland Park. The D2 final saw Hillcrest from Dallas and Clear Lake from Houston matched up with Hillcrest taking the title 13-11. A young man I have had the opportunity to coach at last years Brown recruiting camp, Trevor Atkins, lived up to all the hype with an awesome showing. He will excel at the next level when he makes his way to Hamilton NY and D1 NCAA Colgate. The D1 final took Texas lacrosse to the next level as Coppell, in the first season in D1, took on the very well coached Jesuit. Everyone who pays attention knows Coppell is stacked with an infinite number of D1 commits and it showed on the field. Tyler Landis, the Brown commit went off and won game MVP honors but I will let the highlights do the talking. Keep an eye out for Coppell goalie Jonathan Ferree, the freshman garnered defensive MVP honors for the Cowboys. The overall feeling I took away from Conroe Texas is that TX lacrosse is at a higher level than I think most people realize. The so called “brain drain” of the northeast is starting to make waves!

After a bit of a break and the day after seeing UNC vs UMD on ESPN1 then the NLL championship on Versus (two very different styles of lacrosse on national television) I was off to one of my favorite events of the year. Due to living in no man’s land I had to drive back to Houston to board a direct flight to Denver Colorado to webcast the 2011 MCLA National Tournament on CollegeLax. I still think this tournament is a little more underground than it should be although websites such as this one and CL are giving this event the exposure it deserves. The MCLA tournament is a test of endurance with the champion winning four games in five days. Also, the abundance of lacrosse on day one is mind bottling to say the very least. Of course apocalyptic weather is par for the course and this year it shot a birdie. This year it wasn’t just low temps, there were thunderstorms, hail and a tornado directly above us. As always I got to catch up with many old friends, cheer on the Western New York players in the tourney, and meet new people who seem to become old friends instantly. The highlight for me was to do the sideline reporting for a couple games and get into other programs huddles. The hottest topic this year was obviously the weather and the future location.  Although the weather has been biblical at times, the facilities and staff at Dicks Park do more than most think.  The setup and breakdown of the event alone is a massive undertaking done with precision. Wherever the tournament is held in 2012 I just hope to be there.

Mike Brand Summer Branding
PCLL OPOY and fellow Grand Island HS alum Alex Hultgren and me in Denver

Since then I of course followed all the action from Baltimore and have begun to prepare myself for another world tour.  Here are this year’s tour dates and they kicked off this past weekend:

June 4th & 5th Texas Top 99 – Dallas Texas
By far the best recruiting showcase for Texas lacrosse players and a spectacularly run event (travel size Gold Bond is given to each college coach in their welcome pack).  I had a great group of kids who played very hard considering the 100+ temps and being understaffed.

June 13th – 16th Centenary Ladies and Gentlemen Camp – Shreveport Louisiana

My programs camp and a great opportunity for the youth of Shreveport to get some great college level instruction. This year we have our first girls session!

June 18th-23rd Maximum Lacrosse Camp at TCU – Fort Worth Texas
An emerging instructional camp put on by Max Siebald. I have heard nothing but great things about Max and his staff and I look forward to teaching the youth of TX LA and OK. Word on the street is that this camp is sold out!

June 27th-30th Blue Chip 225 Seniors – Smithfield Rhode Island
Another one of my favorites and a very well run recruiting camp. BC225 is one of the best formats for camp and is chock full of great athlete and top coaches alike. The camaraderie up at Bryant make this one of the best camps in the country.

June 30th-July 3rd Lars Tiffany 300 – Providence Rhode Island
Straight from BC225 I will take the short trek to the beautiful campus of Brown University for another top notch recruiting event. Coach Tiffany and his staff put on a highly competitive event located right in the heart of College Hill on the East Side of Providence.

July 4th-7th Blue Chip 225 Juniors – Smithfield Rhode Island
Right back to Bryant I got for another session of BC225 this time with the Juniors. It should be fun to watch the boys get after it on America’s birthday.

(Writer’s note: I have already been hooked up with Sox tickets for their July 8th clash with the Orioles at Fenway. Not a baseball guy but just like NASCAR you gotta experience Fenway at least once.)

July 9th & 10th Mid Summer Classic – Amherst Massachusetts
A great opportunity to pull up the lawn chair and watch some club teams go.  I will be there running my own field scouting some future Gentlemen so I am looking forward to this tournament that carries a great reputation.

July 11th-14th Blue Chip 225 Sophomores – Smithfield Rhode Island
My final session at Bryant and my first year working with the rising sophs. I look forward to watching the youngsters go yet sad to depart from another year at Blue Chip.

July 16th-19th Tar Heel Instructional Camp – Chapel Hill North Carolina
I have long desired to get on the campus of UNC and see what the hype is about and I will get my chance in July. This camp comes highly recommended and my angst toward a certain basketballer who once wore #23 will be extremely suppressed.

July 24th-27th Johns Hopkins Blue Jay Camp Session III – Baltimore Maryland
Another of my favorite clinics, the Hopkins staff runs a class operation. Simply being around the coaching staff and the players is half the experience. My favorite moment every year is when I get the educate the campers of the hallowed ground that is Homewood Field. I still get chills every year when I talk about the Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden, Old Trafford, Notre Dame Stadium, Maple Leaf Gardens of our great game.

July 29th-August 1st Tar Heel Team Camp II – Chapel Hill North Carolina
Maybe the camp I am most looking forward to. In my return trip to UNC, I will be bringing a group of young men from Shreveport to experience another level of lacrosse. I must warn you that the kits we have in the works are breath taking. I just hope my boys get as much out of this as I will.

(Writer’s note: On our arrival back to Shreveport I get to spend some time with my lovely girlfriend on her birthday. She must be mentioned for simply allowing me to go on this whirlwind tour and truthfully it may be my last at this pace)

August 5th-15th American Revolution European Tour – London and Copenhagen
If you’re a reader of this website and the 412 blog you know all about this. Myself and Indiana head coach Peter Tumbas will be taking a select group of college aged men across the pond for an experience of a life time. This is obviously the event I brag about the most and will be my third foreign lacrosse tour. I can assure you this will be covered from every angle on Lax All Stars.

August 20th – The 11th Annual Beaneater Tournament – South Buffalo New York
My baby, the “Bean” is the only men’s tournament in Western New York. This year we are looking to legitimize the tournament yet still keep the level casual fun that this tourney is famous for. This is a great chance for me to catch up with my hometown lax buddies and close out my summer tour. If you have a group of fellas interested please don’t hesitate to contact me.

That will conclude my summer and I can guarantee an infinite amount of memories will be made. If you see me on the trail feel free to say hello! I am planning on posting from each event so stay tuned!