Yet ANOTHER great time in Philadelphia at the annual US Lacrosse Convention. I got into Philly mid-afternoon on Friday. Last year my first task was to head directly to Pats for the obligatory cheese steak but having busted my butt this past year to drop over 50 pounds, I took a pass this year on the cheese steak and went for a huge salad in the Reading Terminal. Not nearly the same but a surprisingly good salad!!
After satisfying my hunger and checking into my hotel I entered the Philadelphia Convention Center.
Since the coaching clinics were not slated to start for a few hours I immediately hit the convention floor to check out all the hot new gear, say hello to old friends and make some ones. One of my first stops was to say hello to my buddies Joe and James at HeadWrapz. Their stuff ROCKS. Best in in the business. If your club or team is still sporting plain helmets, check out www.headwrapz.com and put in an order for your team. I also appreciate all the introductions that Joe facilitates for me. I got to say hello to Paul Rabil and Max Seibald at the HeadWrapz booth. After admiring all the wicked HeadWrapz I headed over to say Hi to Michael Colleluori at the HEADstrong Foundation booth. Mike is a great guy and the HEADstrong Foundation (headstrong foundation) is such a powerful force of fundraising for blood cancer research.
I then continued on and stopped by to see my boy Vinnie of The Art of Lax (www.theartoflax.com). Hands down the best lacrosse artist there is. Vinnie is also now doing artwork in other sports as well. Years ago my town Rec team used one of Vinnie’s drawings on t-shirts for a very successful fundraiser. Vinnie has branched out in a big way and now has one of his iconic drawings on an iPhone case. Get it while its hot!! Moving on I went to meet with Dustin Dohm of Stylin’ Strings (www.stylinstrings.com). Dustin and I had spoken previously and had been e-mailing for months so it was great to finally be able to meet him in person. Dustin and his partners do some of the finest stringing and head dyeing I have ever seen. They are true master stringers! Dustin also gave me a sneak peek at a WICKED new lacrosse game for phones and tablets coming from Crosse Studios. I was ready to head back to my hotel and immediately download it but it was only at that point that he told me it will be out in about 2 weeks. You can view the Crosse Studios press release here: Lacrosse Dodge Press Release
Visited some other booths where I was shown some pretty neat technology. There is a really nice app for your lacrosse roster and stats at www.intangiblesoftware.com and available from the Apple App Store. I spent some time with Brain Sentry (www.brainsentry.com) learning about their innovative helmet-mounted sensor that provides alerts when an athlete suffers a potentially dangerous impact. Shouldn’t be too long before those things are on every player’s helmet! I also loved the concept being promoted now by ReQRuitme (www.reqruitme.com). ReQRuitme is a simple, fast, and affordable way for student-athletes to deliver their academic and athletic profiles to college coaches/recruiters using personal scannable QR codes! Awesome stuff! Another wicked cool app is from Rip Net Lacrosse (www.rip.net) which is player development app and social network for lacrosse players and which allows lax players to enter their stats and scoring, and see how the compare with others. Very cool stuff with tons of potential for assist in visualizing a player’s strengths, weaknesses and improvement opportunities.
I hit up the IMG Academy (IMG Lacrosse Academy) to chat with Ben about IMG’s lacrosse camps and programs and then spoke with Dave Jenkins of 3d Lacrosse (www.3dlacrosse.com) to get the low down on the variety of camps and programs offered by 3d Lacrosse. Great stuff. As the coach of 8th graders (and the father of one as well), I enjoyed speaking with the guys at the Lacrosse Recruits (“The Official Recruiting Tool of US Lacrosse”) booth and learning about their services (www.lacrosserecruits.com). You guys will surely hear from me next year!!
I stopped at the OdorBalance (www.odorbalance.com) to say hello to Drew but we kept missing each other. Any lacrosse player, coach or parent knows that sweaty lacrosse equipment reeks!! Drew’s Odor Balance products work! Trust me – my son’s pads, jerseys, and pinneys have gone from fetid, putrid, rancid, rank, malodorous to smelling almost new again. The best part is that the OdorBalance line of products are long-lasting, hypoallergenic, eco-friendly and fragrance-free. Highly recommended!
I was fortunate to be able to meet and chat with one of my favorite defenseman – Brett Hughes. I always enjoyed watch Brett play when he was at UVA and as a pro. Hardcore! Brett also the co-founder of Lacrosse The Nations (www.lacrossethenations.com) which uses lacrosse as the conduit to achieve the mission of improving the lives of children in need across the globe. The LTN program uses the lacrosse field as a platform to teach students valuable life skills and health education, while ultimately bringing joy to their lives.
Other cool things I saw included the Cradlebaby cradle practicing aid. Hit them up at www.laxcb.com. I also stopped at the Youth1.com booth to learn more about their Super Series National Lacrosse Combine events. That promises to be an awesome opportunity for lacrosse players. More info at: www.superseriesevents.com.
The first educational clinic I attended was a great one led by Chris Snyder entitled “How to Make Proper Contact”. I then grabbed some dinner, relaxed a bit and headed to the Major League Lacrosse draft. What lax fan wouldn’t think it incredibly exciting to stand in a room of lacrosse greats – current and former - and watch as the MLL Commissioner announces the selections by each of the MLL teams. Can’t imagine such a dream come true for the players selected. Wow!
Saturday for me was all about learning. After first saying good morning to my friend Ryan Boyle, lacrosse great and one of the National Directors of Trilogy Lacrosse (www.trilogylacrosse.com) I headed to listen to Coach Petrone of the Haverford School speak about running the 1-4-1 offense. Top-level stuff!! Next I moved on to watching Joe Spallina run his incredibly impressive Team 91 Lacrosse U11 players through some great drills that any youth coach would want to implement into upcoming practices. Late morning I attended a great session run by Coach Danowski Sr and Coach Danowski Jir (that is John and Matt). That session was fantastic as son and dad bantered with each other while offering a tremendous amount of very valuable information. After a quick lunch it was off to watch the great Paul Cantabene teach face-offs. He’s a legend! My last session of the day was watching a Kyle Harrison, Sam Bradman and Max Ritz STX/LXM demonstration on the Live Field. I was fortunate again to have a moment to chat with Kyle. Great guy!!As a coach attending the Convention and seeking to learn as much as possible, hear from the great coaches, etc. its simply impossible to attend every educational clinic and seminar. Every hour I had to debate attending one of 3 or 4 possible sessions that I wanted to attend. Fortunately, US Lacrosse uploads all the sessions/clinics and makes them available online for all registered attendees to view.
So that was my 27 hours in Philadelphia!! I go to the convention because I love this sport. I love to continue learning so I can coach more effectively and learn how I can help my players improve – especially now that many of them are moving on to high school. Any lacrosse coach or any business operating in the lacrosse industry is missing out by not attending the annual convention. The 2014 convention returns to Philadelphia on January 10-12.
Grow The Game!
- Coach B