PressBox's high school lacrosse e-mail, written by Tom Peace, brings you all the best in local lacrosse -- boys and girls, private and public schools, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Check it out, pass it on and tell us what you think.
Project 9 Lacrosse Develops High School Talent To Be Future Stars
For some, it's been almost three months since they've picked up a lacrosse stick and for others, even longer since they have actually had an organized practice. That is why Mark Millon and Paul Rabil came up with Project 9, which invites 63 of the top lacrosse players from the classes of 2015 and 2016 to attend a three-day developmental clinic.
The players compete and train under professional and Hall of Fame coaches who evaluate their physical conditioning and technical skill and teach them how to break down film.
The event, now in its third year, is designed to help participants understand both the on-the-field and off-the-field responsibilities of being a top-level lacrosse player.
This year, the event had kids from all parts of the country, including Colorado, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.
Millon, a member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and a two time NCAA Division I first team All-American, believes players coming out of high school can have the most talent on the field, but can also be lacking in skill development that will be crucial to grasp at the next level.
"Paul [Rabil] and I had this vision a couple years ago," Millon said after the first day of workouts Oct. 11 at St. Paul's School. "With kids playing on so many teams they just don't get as much individual instruction. The kids may be really athletic, but overall their skill level can improve.
"That's what we want to do -- get them ramping up their skills and speeding up the learning curve so they are ready when they get to college."
The other coaches that helped during the event were Tucker Durkin (USA All-World defenseman, Johns Hopkins 2013), Scott Rodgers (Notre Dame, 2010 and goalie for the MLL pro team the Ohio Machine), Tim McGeeney (Loyola, 1995), Ben Rubeor (UVA, 2008), Chris Garland (Hampden-Sydney, and coach of the Baltimore Breakers club team under Millon), and new Mount Saint Joseph head coach Stephen Berger (Washington College, 2004). During the three-day event, players are trained by well-known lacrosse trainer, Jay Dyer.
Kids were pushed hard during the clinic Oct. 11, where drills emphasized elite skills at a pace that resembled a practice at a top college program or at the pro level.
On Oct. 12, the Charm City Youth Lacrosse group came to a practice session. CCYL specializes in helping inner-city kids learn the game of lacrosse.
Rabil was pleased to provide the players with the top instruction and the setting to refine their skills.
"It's part of the overall environment we want to build for them; everything is first class and everything is top of the line," he said. "We preach that the little things should add up and help build the foundation for success. It wouldn't be fair to say that and not provide all the little accommodations that showcase greatness."
Archbishop Spalding Names Brian Phipps New Head Coach
Three years ago, St. Mary's Annapolis hired Ben Rubeor to be the head coach of the Saints -- a job that comes with considerable pressure to win in the MIAA-A Conference.
Rubeor was an All-American at the University of Virginia and played professionally for Major League Lacrosse. He entered the job at age 26, and some wondered if he could handle the tall task at hand.
This past season, the Saints won 11 games and advanced to the postseason to become the Cinderella story of the year. The move inspired other teams with coaching vacancies this offseason to go out and hire young but proven individuals.
Mount St. Joe hired alum Stephen Berger, 32, in June
And last month, Archbishop Spalding hired former University of Maryland star goalie Brian Phipps to replace Bear Davis as head coach.
Phipps went to Severn High School before going onto to the University of Maryland and becoming a USILA All-American goalkeeper in 2010. Phipps also plays professionally in Major League Lacrosse for the Ohio Machine.
St. Paul's head coach Rick Brocato, who is entering his 24th season with the Crusaders, is thrilled to have the younger coaches entering the conference.
"[I] love seeing younger guys coming back home to the MIAA," Brocato said. "All were very successful at every level of their playing careers."
The Cavaliers had a 7-12 record last season, finishing last in MIAA. But the program is developing Division I talent and appears to be invested in winning lacrosse games.
Q&A: Gonzaga Boys' Lacrosse Coach Casey O'Neill
The Gonzaga boys' lacrosse team is one of the hottest teams in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.
The Purple Eagles have been ranked nationally the past five seasons, and have a combined 94-13 record. They won the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title for the fifth consecutive time in May.
PressBox spoke to Gonzaga head coach Casey O'Neill about whether it is a good idea for lacrosse players to take part in other sports, the club fall lacrosse schedule, and the coaching changes at Georgetown Prep and Bullis.
PressBox: How do you feel about your players playing other sports besides lacrosse during the fall and winter?
Casey O'Neill: I love it. Athletes are athletes and I fully encourage guys to play other sports if they can in the offseason. At a school like Gonzaga, it is hard to manage so many different sports, academics and the high level of competition each season. But if your grades are steady and you truly enjoy it, then playing other sports is awesome. I love going to different games or matches to watch our guys, whether [it is] football, soccer, basketball, ice hockey, wrestling, swimming, etc. It is no mystery that the guys who go on to play at the next level for us are athletes and many if not all of them have played other sports at one time or another while here.
PB: Who on the 2015 team are you hoping steps up as the leader for Gonzaga?
CO: We have a lot of returners from last year's very young team. I always say you are as good as your seniors want you to be. So I guess my hope is that every senior on this squad really steps up and leads us. The schedule we have is again extremely difficult. The WCAC has become so balanced and strong and then our out-of-conference schedule is as tough as anyone could ever imagine. Senior captains this year are Ridge Slater (Cornell), Michael Borda (Michigan) and Luke Vassos (Delaware). And we have, for the first time, two junior captains in Luke McCaleb (Brown) and Henry Chastain (Maryland). By the way, all of those captains have played two sports. They join a lot of athletic guys in that regard on the roster.
PB: What are your thoughts on the coaching changes at Georgetown Prep and Bullis?
CO: Honestly, I am really sad in a way because I have great relationships with both Kevin Giblin (Georgetown Prep) and Bobby Pollicino (Bullis). Both those men are wonderful coaches, fathers, teachers and people I have enjoyed over the years. [They are] just truly unique and strong in their own ways. With that being said, Georgetown Prep has an awesome coach now in Charlie Horning, who I think the world of. [He's] just [a] top-of-the-line guy. And Jeff Bellistri at Bullis is a great coach, and a truly wonderful man as well. Both these guys know what it takes to win and teach. This is not the first rodeo for those guys on the sideline, so I expect those programs to continue to win and do well.
PB: Do you encourage your players to play fall ball club lacrosse?
CO: If a young man is not playing a fall sport, then yes I do. Young men need to be doing something with their free time. And most important is to find a club that offers great coaching, the right temperament and plenty of options for competitive, real lacrosse in the fall. Regardless, true lacrosse players need to find some time during the week to get a stick in their hand and hit the wall. I will say though, that too many of these Sunday fall games do drive me crazy during football season. Whatever happened to going to church, raking leaves in the yard and watching football?
PB: Are you impressed with the growth of the high school game in D.C.?
CO: Here in D.C., there are some wonderful coaches and programs doing great things not only at the high school level, but also with the youth. Make sure to look into what Winners Lacrosse is doing and their leader Matt Breslin here in the city.
Featured College Commitments
Boys' Latin long stick midfielder Michael Ubriaco -- Johns Hopkins University
Marriotts Ridge defender Caitlin Ohnmacht -- Johns Hopkins University
Oakland Mills defender Evan Riss -- Ohio State University
Franklin High School faceoff specialist Zach Alt -- McDaniel College
St. Paul's School midfielder Daniel Ferber -- Lynchburg College
Calvert Hall midfielder Austin Glab -- York College
Loyola Blakefield defenseman Jake Nordhausen -- The United States Military Academy at West Point
Northwest midfield-attackman Cory Hathaway -- Elizabethtown College
Gonzaga midfielder Liam Fitzpatrick -- St. Joseph's University