After so many years being involved in youth lacrosse I am often asked what summer travel teams I would recommend to have developing players tryout for.
I have always believed that there is a number of quality summer travel lacrosse programs available in the state of New Jersey. The diversity of each program ensures that there is a place on the roster for players at various levels of commitment and ability. If a player want to play summer lacrosse in New Jersey they should always be able to find a team that a fit for them.
While my son has participated in and played against multiple summer travel programs I have had the opportunity to observe how many of them are run. We have been lucky in the fact most have been positive experiences for him.
You will never hear me criticize a program unless I feel the program is self serving and just out there to make money. We have had only one very painful experience with one program that clearly was only interested in pumping players through their one day tryout to make as much money as possible.
So now while I post a lot on social media regarding my son’s current team, the NJ Riot, you can look back through the history of my social media posts and see I have been complimentary to other programs he has been involved with. I will continue to expound the virtues and promote any of the programs I believe have the players best interest in mind. Through his participation in the NJ Riot program he received interest from several college coaches and in the spring of his junior year he committed to play at a division III school.
While our goal was to allow our son to get proper training to improve his game and get exposure to the college recruiting process, that might not be the goal of every family. Several of the programs that I know do a good job and get their players the exposure and training are NJ Riot, NJ Thunder, Building Blocks, Tri State, NJ Emeralds and Leading Edge. These programs offer mentoring and focus on getting the players on college coaches radar. A new comer to my list would be Phoenix Lacrosse run by Andrew Blasko. All the above programs have websites and social media presence with contact information.
There are other types ofprograms out there so I would offer the following. If your goal is to get instruction and college exposure look to the type of programs I mentioned above. If you just want your player to continue to keep a stick in their hands there are plenty of those types out there.
My Recommendation would be to first check the Website of a program and read their mission statement to see if their philosophy is in-line with your own. I would then try to speak with parents and players who have participated with the program in the past. Check out the caliber of tournaments that their youth teams play in and then what showcase events they position their High School teams to participate in. How many nights a week do they practice? How many tournaments will they play in? What is the cost of participation? What experience does the coaching staff have? What equipment do I receive when I participate? what is the retention rate of players from year to year?
If anybody would like more info on summer programs please feel free to contact me.