A couple things continually stand out while looking back on our 17 years playing the Sport. I realize how important every experience was in preparing us to play at North Carolina.
Growing up in Cincinnati there were only four teams to play for in the Spring. Milford, Loveland, Blue Jays, and the Jr. Crusaders – the sport had dedicated coaches, but not a standard of producing excellence. Soccer on the other hand had established clubs and a track record of turning out high level college talent. Playing basketball was similar – Harrison and I had many people and places to supplement our development.
There is serious power in a community. Our soccer team was pretty good relative to National talent at a young age, so being on that team, Harrison and I were on an elite level. However, for lacrosse, what does being on the Southern Ohio level get you? I am not saying there is anything wrong with what has been going on. But how can it get better?
First, we did not perform at this level by playing good teams growing up. The premier soccer tournaments were great to compete in! BUT, they are not what made us. It was the training. The consistent immersion in a level of soccer that greatly benefited our growth. Lacrosse clubs that brag about “going to the elite tournaments” are not doing any favors for your kids. (although this can be important Sophomore - Senior year)
How did we do it for Lacrosse - end up at one of the best programs in the Country? It was the training. Setting aside athleticism (addressed in another blog) Harrison and I invested in our development outside of practice. We enjoyed passing in the yard, watching lacrosse videos, and using our lacrosse sticks daily. But what took us to the next level is when we got formal training in 8th grade. Weekly we would drive up to Columbus to work with a guy named Joel. He would teach us new skills, refine our form, and challenge us to do things we had never even thought of. This is what got us to North Carolina – the emphasis of training. Harrison and I left every session thinking “wow this sport is fun.” We were motivated to continue learning, and now aware of how far we could go.
What ripple did this have? Harrison and I were filled with a spark that changed our lacrosse careers! From then on, we were able to elevate the talent of every player we played with in High School. Offensive teammates were being taught all the skills we were learning, and the defenders continued to grow in experience, competing against a new level. Harrison and I then were able to impress Coach Breschi and Metz to become Tar Heels, and that has led to the past four years of incredible moments on and off the field.
So how important is training? It is everything. The strength is in the details. When results don't matter, but you push to achieve greatly. Games are when youth players just deepen habits, good and bad, but do not significantly and intentionally develop new skills. I love training – it is freedom – it gives you freedom. You feel confident on the field. You enjoy being put in different situations during games. You grow in unexplainable ways during training.
Why are Harrison and I so passionate about investing locally? The ripple effect. We want to be even MORE than what we were blessed with. We are here to be mentors, coaches, and friends. It will change so many lives. Players will be filled with confidence on and off the field. Some will be inspired to take their games to the next level. This will give them opportunities to attend schools they would not be able to without lacrosse. That changes lives, and inspires those coming behind them to dream of doing the same. Not to mention increasing the collective talent on all the local teams. If the High School game improves, the youth model a better style of lacrosse, that gets passed down, and soon Southern Ohio has elevated the lacrosse standard. It begins with TRAINING, and will give kids the ability to go out East and really compete.
What have I concluded? It is all about the details. "In between the lines." Those moments grinding out new moves and skills. This is the Cincinnati Lacrosse Academy. We are going to bring the dream closer, provide players with the tools, and coach the skills and techniques it takes.
It is always amazing to watch this translate into other aspects of life. Because Harrison and I are systematic, at this point we control every detail of our performance. On and off the field, and we look forward to sharing this with every player who is involved.